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September 2011

Indonesia

Indonesia

Indonesia, about three times the size of Texas, covers an area of 2 million sq. km., with a maritime area of 7,900,000 sq. km. The capital city of Jakarta has an estimated population of 9.6 million people; other major cities include: Surabaya, Medan, and Bandung. The official language is Indonesian, with the most prevalent local language being Javanese.

By the time of the Renaissance, the islands of Java and Sumatra had already enjoyed a 1,000-year heritage of advanced civilization spanning two major empires. During the 7th-14th centuries, the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya flourished on Sumatra. Beginning in 1602, the Dutch slowly established themselves as rulers of Indonesia. (The only exception was East Timor, which remained under Portugal's control until 1975.) During the first decade of the 20th century, an Indonesian independence movement began and expanded rapidly, particularly between the two World Wars.

During World War II, Japan invaded Indonesia (in early 1942). On August 17, 1945, 3 days after Japan’s surrender to the Allies, a small group of Indonesians, led by Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta, proclaimed independence and established the Republic of Indonesia. In 1950, Indonesia became the 60th member of the United Nations.

Indonesia is comprised of more than 17,000 islands; 6,000 of which are inhabited. The large islands consist of coastal plains with mountainous interiors. The climate is equatorial but cooler in the highlands. Natural resources include: petroleum, tin, natural gas, nickel, timber, bauxite, copper, fertile soils, coal, gold, and silver. Indonesia's natural hazards are: occasional floods, severe droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and forest fires.

On 14 September 2011 an earthquake of 5.3 magnitude struck 135 miles west southwest of Sumatra. To learn more about earthquakes around the world, go to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program site.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes; USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, 8/2011; 6/2011; 9/2011

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