The territory of the Republic of Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. It is situated between the continents of Australia and Asia and between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. That is why Indonesia has a very strategic position of being the crossroads between East and West and from North to South.
Location + Extent
The Indonesian Archipelago runs along the equator. The distance between the outmost eastern and western points of the Indonesian Archipelago is about 5,400 km (~3,400 miles), while the distance between the outmost northern and southern points is about 1,888 km (~1,200 miles).
Indonesia has five main islands: Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java and New Guinea. The number of islands, large and small, found in this archipelago is around 17,500, which have a coastline of about 61,147 km. Around 8,800 of those islands have a name, but only 930 of them are inhabited. The western part of Indonesia’s territory is generally comprised of larger islands, such as Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan; whereas the eastern part, except for New Guinea and Sulawesi, is made up of smaller archipelagos, such as the archipelago of Nusa Tenggara and that of the Maluku.
Climate + Topography
Being located along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate with tow seasons: the dry monsoon (June to September) and wet monsoon (December to March). Indonesian physiography consists of low-lying plains in the coastal areas and plateaus in the mountain areas. Most of the islands are rugged, sometimes volcanic, and after covered with rain forest. These variations create 2 broad range of air temperatures.
On the lowland plains or coastal areas, the air temperature is rather high, around 27°-30° Celsius (81°-86°F), while on the plateaus or mountain areas, it is relatively low, around 22°-25° Celsius (72°-77°F).
The larger islands of Indonesia – Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and New Guinea – contain the majority of the population, but Java is by far most populated. Most Indonesians live in river valleys, alluvial coastal plains or on terraced mountainsides. Indonesia has about 400 mountains, more than ten of those are still active volcanoes. For this reason, Indonesia is classified as a seismically active area.
Indonesia has abundant natural resources; however, most of them are not yet fully exploited. The most important natural resources are petroleum, natural gas, tin, bauxite, manganese, coal, gold, silver and copper. Indonesia’s main agricultural products are rice, corn, cassava, soybeans, rubber, coffee, palm oil, and tobacco. Some of these products are exported, and are regarded as primary foreign exchange earners. Export revenue is used in financing Indonesia’s national development.
About 60% or around 113,500,000 hectares of Indonesia’s land area is covered by dense forests. In these forests thousands of plants and animal species thrive. Indonesian floras and faunas are valuable assets of the nation. Timber as a forest product, for instance, has been referred to in recent years as the “green gold,” for the simple reason that it has the highest potential as a non-oil export commodity.
As much as ~16,000,000 hectares of Indonesia’s forest area have been converted into forest preservations. These preservations are divided into:
a. 175 units of natural preservations (6,123,743 hectares)
b. 71 units of wildlife preservations (4,676,088 hectares)
c. 11 units of hunting parks (326,291 hectares)
d. 47 units of tourist park (165,265 hectares)
e. 1 unit for a national park (4,837,869 hectares)
This way, it is possible to protect and preserve various species of animals, such as elephants, rhinoceroses, orang utans, comodos, tigers, wild bears and various species of birds, such as bird of paradise, cassowaries, cockatoos and peacocks as well as thousands of plant species.