Capital | Jakarta
Population | 245,613,043 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 1,919,440 SQ KM
Official Language | Bahasa Indonesia
Holidays | Independence Day, 17 August (1945)
Currency | Rupiah (IDR)
Time Zone | UTC +7
Best Time to Visit | May to September, during the dry season.
Connecting with the Culture | Climbing Bali’s Gunung Batur for exceptional sunrises. Taking a batik course in Yogyakarta, Java. Eating breakfast at the floating market in Benjarmasin, Kalimantan. Chilling out on Lombok’s Gili Islands. Watching the Ramayana Ballet full story unfold at the outdoor theatre in Prambanan, Java. Catching a wave at Pantai Suluban, Bali’s surfing Mecca.
Read | Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s The Fugitive, by the leader of a failed nationalist revolt against Japanese occupation during WWII. Ayu Utami’s Saman is a story of political repression, extramarital sex and religious intolerance.
Listen | to Iwan Fals, a rock idol who conveys society’s suffering, and Padi, the favourite group at the 2003 Indonesian MTV Video Awards.
Watch | Garin Nugroho’s Bulan Tertsuk llalang (And the Moon Dances). Joko Anwar’s Arisan is the first home-grown film showing two men kissing.
Eat | nasi goring (fried rice), the country’s most common dish, and sate (skewered meats with spicy peanut sauce).
Drink | kopi (coffee), as Indonesia is the world’s third-largest coffee producer; black the (tea); or bir (beer), especially the domestic Bintang and Anker.
In a Word | Tidak apa-apa (no problem)
Characteristics | World-class surfing; komodo dragons; terraced ricescapes; woodcarvings, textiles, basketwork and beadwork; exotic fruits; political corruption.
Surprises | The Balinese year is only 210 days long; snow is found two degrees south of the equator on ‘Puncak Jaya’ in Papua.
NEWS ABOUT INDONESIA
Powerful quakes strike Indian Ocean: Aceh says, ‘better prepared’ now
(HN, 4/11/12) - An earthquake measuring 8.6 on the Richter scale jolted the Indonesia province of Banda Aceh on Wednesday afternoon, followed by a tsunami warning issued by the Meteorology & Geophysics Agency (BMKG) & an alert that followed by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii advised countries along the rim of the Indian Ocean, from Australia & India to as far off as Africa, that a tsunami wave could head their way. Then, just as the region was relaxing, an 8.2-magnitude aftershock followed.
But residents in Aceh say that 2 deadly tsunamis in the last decade - the most recent off Japan just 1 year ago - have left the world & Aceh, much better prepared to face strong earthquakes compared to when the deadly 9.1-magnitude quake hit off their coast on December 26, 2004 & triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed tens of thousands in the early morning hours. This time, the quakes happened at a busy hour when most people were working & earthquake drills have been regularly practiced in Aceh province since the 2004 disaster. The tsunami alert was cancelled at 7:45 pm & the only wave to hit the coast was less than 30 inches high. The scare comes just 1 day after Aceh residents went to the poll to elect a new governor. (Read more at The Jakarta Post)
Indonesia's Aceh Province Votes in Crucial Test
(HN, 4/9/12) - Indonesia's only province ruled by Islamic Sharia laws went to the polls to elect its powerful governor Monday, in the province's second vote since the Asian tsunami of 2004 killed 170,000 people & since a 30 year war against Indonesian rule claiming 15,000 lives, ended in 2005. In the capital, Banda Aceh, new concrete homes, hotels, schools & mosques cover the tsunami damage, & new roads have been built, tho the devastation is always near. Aceh, on the western edge of the Indonesia archipelago, enjoys broad autonomy & is a rarity in a country where most of the 240 million people practice some form of moderate Islam. Alcohol is freely sold in the rest of Indonesia, but is banned in Aceh. In some of the province's regions, women are forbidden from wearing pants. Gamblers & imbibers are publicly caned.
Voters are electing the governor - the top post in the province - as well as 17 district heads & deputies. Irwandi Yusuf, the 51-year-old incumbent backs Sharia & who was elected in December 2006 & is seeking a 2nd 5-year term & is challenged by 4 other hopefuls. The main opposition candidate is Teungku Ahmad Tajuddin, a 49-year-old Islamic schoolteacher who won't say outright whether he backs the stoning laws, but condemns Yusuf for rejecting stiffer Sharia bylaws. Violence, including arson attacks & at least 6 fatal shootings occurred in the run-up to the polls, which have been repeatedly delayed since October. More than 3 million residents are eligible to vote at 9,786 polling stations that will remain open until 2:00 pm. Results are expected by April 15th & candidates must get more than 30% of the vote to win. (Read more at Bernama)