Indonesia: Land of many wonders


Agus S Djamil

AN INTRODUCTION to a big melting pot of ultimate diversity of Indonesia.

The Largest Archipelago on Earth

map ind
Indonesia consists of 18,108 islands, making it the largest archipelago
on Earth. However, only about 6,000 islands are inhabited.

The only vast archipelago beneath the equatorial line, with 81,000km of
beach line (the second longest after Canada), making it the most
abundant and concentrated beautiful white sandy beaches on earth. Most
are still unknown and best kept secret to the world.

The Long Stretch of Indonesian Archipelago
If you put the Indonesian archipelago over the European continent, it
will cover from Birmingham in Britain to Baku in The Caspian Sea.

If you placed it over Asia, it will stretch from Karachi in Pakistan to
Shanghai in China.

Or if you overlay it over American continent, it will lineup from New
York in the Atlantic to San Francisco in Pacific.

Country Linking the Two Oceans
Geographically, geoeconomically, geopolitically, Indonesia is simply
very strategic.Stretching in the boundaries of Indian and Pacific
Oceans, this vast archipelago garners the abundant benefit.

Indonesia is well positioned in the junction of energy exchange, passing
almost half of world oil tankers and more than two third of world
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) carriers, from the Middle East to
energy-thirst East Asia.

Its straits are passages of manufactured products from Asia and
intersection of two emerging world economic giant, China and India.

Indonesia hopefully will repeat the history of the oceanpolitan where
Indian, Arab and Chinese merchants met in Sriwijaya, Batavia, Bintan or
Ternate. Where many great voyagers like Marcopolo, Magellan, I Tsing,
Cheng Ho, Ibnu Batutah, James Cook, Raffles and many more noted the
prosperous spices islands, the archipelagos of many kingdoms (Al Mulks
or the Mollucas).

The Ultimate Diversity and Beauty

Raja Ampat, West Papua

Raja Ampat, West Papua

There are about 300 ethnics living united across 18,108 islands. They
live in the cross road of civilisations of Asia and India and Africa and
Arab and Europe, leaving the genetic of diversely stunning looking
people. Cross breeds of Polynesian, European, Chinese, Arabs and African
beauties can be found in many secluded mystical islands of Indonesia.

Red and White, the National Flag
Indonesia’s national flag is simply red over white. Red over white is
expressing simplicity of bravery over purity, truth and integrity.
During the Independent struggle in 1945, the white element of the flag
symbolises the pure intention to liberate the nation from the colonial.
The red element symbolises willingness to pay the freedom with their blood.

United in One Bahasa (Language) Indonesia
ethnicIndonesia has about 300 ethnic groups, which bear their own languages.
However, most Indonesians are bilingual, and converse in Bahasa
Indonesia besides their mother tongue.

More than 260 Million populations speaks Bahasa Indonesia, with slight
variance in Malay language across the Southeast Asian archipelago, make
it the top five languages spoken in the world after Spanish, Chinese,
English, and Arab.

The local dialect of Indonesian languages is also local languages used
throughout the southern Pacific to the east up to Hawaii and Maori, and
also to west up to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

Some native words that are used in Hawaii, and by the Maoris in the
Pacific Ocean, and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean resemble the local
Indonesian languages. We can trace them back to the seafarers era where
the ancient Indonesian emigrating in their catamaran and phinisi across
those two vast oceans.

The Java man

sangir fosMeganthropus Paleo Javanicus, or The Java Man, is one of the oldest Homo
erectus fossil found in the island of Java. Dated back about 1 million
years old fossil found in the midst of fossil abundant, including tusk
of giant elephants in Sangiran village of Central Java. The fossil
discovery in Sangiran site is indicating the existence of prehistoric
life in the archipelago.

This Homo erectus skull was featured on the cover of
American Scientist in 1996. It was discovered by S Sartono in 1969, the
most complete of more than 80 specimens from the Indonesian island of
Java. It was named Sangiran 17 after its geographic locality. Note the
long cranium, low forehead, and massive structure typical of Homo
erectus in East Asia. The estimated age of this skull is more than one
million years old, providing evidence for the theory that early hominids
first migrated out of Africa for Asia much earlier than previously
thought. (American Scientist, 84, 6, November-December, 1996)

Largest Muslim Population

muslims indLargest Muslim population on the globe resides in Indonesia.

Introduced to the islander by Chinese, Indian and Arab traders back in
the 14th Century, Islam has become religion embraced by 90 per cent
population. However, Indonesia remains as non-theocratic, open states,
pledging other faith believers to live harmoniously across the social
fabrics and political structure today.

Fourth Largest Democracy in the World
KAMPANYEWith 240 million populations, Indonesia is the fourth largest democracy
in the world, after USA, India and Russia. The first democracy to elect
president in direct voting for each eligible population.

Indonesia’s political stage is contested by 48 political parties which
campaigns for their representatives to be elected for national people
representative chamber.

The Reformasi (reformation) following the 32-years reign of Suhartos
slide down, people of Indonesia manage to elect four successive
Presidents, and remain intact as the Fourth largest Democracy in the
largest archipelagic nation on earth.

The Indonesians Are the First Circumnavigators of the World
phinisiThe west wrote that Ferdinand Magellan is the person who first
circumnavigated the earth. Indeed, he never completed the circle. He was
killed in Cebu Island of the Philippines on that expedition. But
Indonesian sailors who were recruited by Magellan in Spain continued to
sail his Victoria ship and completed the journey. In fact, when they
reached the Indonesian archipelago, in 1521, technically they had become
the first people to circumnavigate the earth.

The seafaring tradition of Indonesian is well depicted in the wall
relief of the 7th Century giant Buddhist temple of Borobudur in Central

European who went to visit Australia then also documented the sea
cucumber pickers of the Bugis fishermen in the 17th century.

The Most Frequently Stricken by Tsunami
tsunami aceh4_gallery__550x360Though Tsunami word is derived from Japanese word of harbour wave, the
giant wave strikes Indonesian islands more than any other places on
earth. The largest being recorded was in Aceh on December 26, 2004,
killing more than 250,000 people in three continents, Asia, Africa and
Australia. But other six giant Tsunami in Indonesia listed among the big
11 in the last century.

Emerging Indonesia Stock Exchange
bei-idxIndonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) has been active since 1978 through the
country’s economic crisis and boom. Daily transaction in 2006 is around
US$ 300 Million, increase sharply after crisis in 1999. Five years after
country’s monetary crisis, IDX emerged as an attractive global financial
market; posting second highest index grows after Japan.

The Best Cinnamon on Earth
spicesNicknamed as the Spices Islands, Indonesia’s thousand of islands well
known for exotic herbs and spices.

Nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, turmeric, ginger, are only named to few,
including cinnamon as recognised by a bakery chained in the west as the
best cinnamon on earth. The Indonesian cinnamon is well known as the
very best and the most flavourful cinnamon in the world.

Coffee, Cocoa, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Cloves, Tobacco, Tea, and Coconut milk
are delicacies for modern palate.

borobudThe 7th century build giant Buddhist temple in Java revealing civil
technological achievement of the Javanese, when Europe was still in the
Dark Ages. The largest Buddhist temple in the world is Indonesia’s
Borobudur. This huge volcanic rock structure, beautifully carved along
its kilometre wall is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Krakatau Is Life
krakatoaAfter the fierce eruption in May 20, 1883, the younger Anak Krakatau
volcano is ever-emerging from under the Sunda strait. This eruption, the
Second largest in Indonesia during historical time (the most violent
being the eruption of Tambora in 1815), caused more than 36,000
fatalities, most as a result of devastating tsunamis that swept the
adjacent coastlines of Sumatra and Java. The burning rocks surges
travelled 40 km across the Sunda Strait and reached the Sumatra coast.

The Brunei Times
Monday, August 17, 2009


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