The Great Archipelago State
The Republic of Indonesia is the biggest and the most diverse archipelago nation in the world with more than 17,504 islands which are scattered over the equator. Many of the Indonesian islands are still uninhabited and a number even still unnamed. The islands are alone covering an area of 1.9 million square kilometers and territorial waters covering an area nearly four times the size of the mainland. The five biggest islands are Sumatera, Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, and Papua. Java remains the heart of the country historically, culturally, and economically. The archipelago stretches between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, and bridges two continents, Asia and Australia/Oceania. This strategic position profoundly influences the country’s culture, social and political life, and the economy.
People & Culture
Inhabited by 300+ ethnic groups, there are 700+ languages and dialects spoken in the archipelago, representing many different ethnic groups. The national language of Indonesia is known as “Bahasa Indonesia”, it is the language of official communication, taught in schools and spoken on television. Most Indonesians today speak at least two languages or more, Bahasa Indonesia and their local language as well. Almost 90% of Indonesians are Muslims but there are also millions of peoples embrace other religion such as Protestant, Hindu, Catholics, Buddhist, and Confucian. Besides the world religions, traditional animist beliefs and practices remain important in many areas. Most Indonesians are very tolerant of different religions, and many people actually observe celebrations from more than one religious tradition. Indonesia is a very diverse nation. This great diversity is reflected in the country’s national motto “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” which means unity in diversity.
Being a tropical country, Indonesia is blessed with two seasons, namely dry and rainy. Dry usually occurs from June to September and the rest is the rainy season. Sunshine is abundant except in the rainy season when the sky tends to be cloudy. It is advisable to visit Indonesia during the dry season.
Indonesia Standard Time
Indonesia’s three time zones are as below:
- Western Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT +7 hours (meridian 105‘0 E), covering all provinces in Sumatra and Java, and the provinces of West and Central Kalimantan.
- Central Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT +8 hours (meridian 120’0 E), covering the provinces of East and South Kalimantan, all provinces in Sulawesi, and the provinces of Bali, West and East Nusa Tenggara.
- Eastern Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT +9 hours (meridian 135°E), covering the provinces of Maluku and Papua.
Since overcoming the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, Indonesia has charted impressive economic growth. The country’s GDP per capita has steadily risen, from $857 in the year 2000 to $3,847 in 2017. Today, Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, the world’s 10th largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity, and a member of the G-20. (worldbank.org)
Indonesia is a member of a number of regional and international organization and has ratified many bilateral and multilateral trade and investment-related agreements. While Indonesia alone constitutes a high-potential business country, its membership of the Association of the South-East Asia Nation (ASEAN) increases its prospects. Investing in Indonesia is also investing in ASEAN. Indonesia, together with the nine other ASEAN Member States, forms an economic block with a total market size of more than 600 million people and progressively more integrated economic area, moving towards the realization of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015. With the upcoming AEC, long-term investors in Indonesia are offered the opportunity to expand their horizon beyond the Indonesian market.