The world’s largest archipelagic country, Indonesia effortlessly blends the past and the present. It values its ancient traditions and ethnic diversity along with its modern conveniences and metropolitan edifices, which illuminate the night sky like futuristic beacons. Visitors relish its serene beaches, pristine rainforests, volcanic mountains, diverse wildlife, historic and cultural destinations, rustic villages, and lively cities.
Formally known as the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, the country is comprised of more than 17,000 islands and is the 14th largest nation, based on land area. The major islands are Java, Sumatra, Borneo (Kalimantan only), Sulawesi, the Malukus, the Lesser Sunda Islands (including Bali), and Indonesian New Guinea. A population that exceeds 264 million - with more than half of that number on Java alone - makes Indonesia the fourth most populous country.. and the most populous Muslim-majority country. It shares borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and eastern Malaysia.
Rich in natural resources such as natural gas and oil as well as tin, copper, and gold, the country also produces rice, palm oil, tea, coffee, medicinal plants, spices, and rubber for export. Surprisingly, in spite of the population density, there are vast areas of wilderness that offer amazing examples of biodiversity - a potent lure for visitors.
For many centuries, Indonesia was a center of trade - attracting foreign interference. Long periods of Dutch colonialism were broken up by Portuguese, French, or English rule. Of the country’s hundreds of ethnic and linguistic groups, the most dominant is the Javanese, and the nation’s motto, “Unity in Diversity,” encourages its citizens to value their differences as much as their similarities.
The sprawling capital, Jakarta, in western Java, is home to 10 million Indonesians, some of most hospitable people on earth. This modern city is known for its melting-pot culture, great shopping, and exciting nightlife. Other large cities include Surabaya in East Java; Bekasi and Bandung in West Java; Medan in North Sumatra; and Tangerang in Banten.