2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Asian Countries; Countries

Republik Indonesia
Republic of Indonesia
Flag of Indonesia Coat of arms of Indonesia
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika
( Old Javanese: Unity in Diversity)
National ideology: Pancasila
Anthem: Indonesia Raya
Location of Indonesia
(and largest city)
6°08′S 106°45′E
Official languages Indonesian
Government Republic
 - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
 - Vice President Jusuf Kalla
Independence former Netherlands colony 
 - Declared 17 August 1945 
 - Recognized 27 December 1949 
 - Total 1,904,569 km² ( 16th)
735,355 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 4.85
 - 2005 estimate 222,781,000 ( 4th)
 - 2000 census 206,264,595
 - Density 117/km² ( 84th)
303/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $977.4 billion ( 15th)
 - Per capita $4,458 ( 110th)
HDI  (2003) 0.697 (medium) ( 110th)
Currency Rupiah ( IDR)
Time zone various ( UTC+7 to +9)
 - Summer ( DST) not observed ( UTC+7 to +9)
Internet TLD .id
Calling code +62

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia ( Indonesian: Republik Indonesia), is a nation of 18,110 islands in the South East Asian Archipelago, making it the world's largest archipelagic state. Its capital is Jakarta. Indonesia is bordered by the nations of Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. With a population of over 200 million, it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation.

The Indonesian Archipelago, home of the Spice Islands, has been an important trade destination since early Chinese sailors began to find profit in the spice trade during ancient times. Much of Indonesia's history has been influenced by the many foreign powers that have been drawn to the archipelago by its wealth of natural resources. These have included Classical Hindus and Buddhists from India, Muslim traders in medieval times, and Europeans during the Age of Exploration, who fought for monopolization of the spice trade. Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch for over three centuries; however, the nation declared its independence in 1945, which was internationally recognized four years later. Since then, the region has had a turbulent history, including political instability and corruption, periods of rapid economic growth and decline, environmental catastrophe, and a recent democratization process.

Indonesia is a unitary state consisting of numerous distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups spread across its numerous islands. The modern borders of Indonesia are based upon those of the Dutch East Indies colony, rather than on any preconceived notion of unity. However, a shared history of colonialism, rebellion against it, a national Indonesian language, and a religious majority of Islam help to define Indonesia as a state. Indonesia's national motto, Bhinneka tunggal ika (derived from Old Javanese for unity in diversity), reflects the amalgamation of the country's myriad cultures, languages, and ethnic groups. However, sectarian tensions have threatened political stability in some regions, leading to violent confrontations and the secession of East Timor.


The name Indonesia was derived the from Greek indus, meaning India, and nesos, meaning islands. Dating back to the eighteenth century, the name far predates the formation of the Indonesian nation. In 1849, an English etymology expert, George Samuel Windsor Earl, writing in an annual science journal, suggested that the Hindia or Malaya archipelago choose a distinct name, suggesting either Indunesia or Melayunesia, although he favoured the latter. In a concurrent article in the same publication, another etymologist, James Richardson Logan, proposed using Indunesia over Melayunesia. He also changed the letter "u" to "o" to improve the pronunciation. The first Indonesian to use the name was Suwardi Suryaningrat (Ki Hajar Dewantara), when he established a press bureau with the name Indonesisch Pers-bureau in the Netherlands.


Fossil evidence suggests the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited by Homo erectus, popularly termed the Java Man. Estimates of its existence range from 500,000 to 2 million years ago. The modern peoples of Malay people origin are descendants of immigrants from mainland South East Asia beginning around 6,000 years ago. Ideal agricultural conditions, and in particular the mastering of wet-field rice cultivation as early as the seventh century BC, allowed villages, towns and eventually small kingdoms to flourish by the first century AD. Around the same time, trade was established between both India and China, fostered by Indonesia’s strategic sea lane position which would continue to be one of the most important influences on the country’s history.

It was upon this trade, and the Hinduism and Buddhism that was brought with it, that the Sriwijaya kingdom flourished from the 7th century AD. It became a powerful naval state, which grew wealthy on the international trade it controlled through the region until its decline in the 12th century. During the 8th and 10th centuries AD, the agriculturally-based Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java with great monuments built, including Borobudur and Prambanan respectively. The Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in 1294, and under its military commander Gajah Mada stretched over much of modern day Indonesia. This period is referred to as a Golden Age in the country’s history.

Arab traders first brought Islam to Indonesia in the late 12th century, establishing settlements in the Aceh region. It spread across the Indonesian archipelago, following trade routes. Rather than a violent conquest, it was, for the most part, peacefully laid over and mixed with existing cultural (and even religious) influences to form what is still the predominant form of Islam in Indonesia today, particularly in Java.

The logo of the Amsterdam Chamber of the VOC.
The logo of the Amsterdam Chamber of the VOC.

European traders first arrived in the early sixteenth century seeking to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in The Moluccas. In 1506 the Portuguese, led by Ferdinand Magellan, were the first Europeans to arrive in Indonesia; the Dutch and British followed. The Dutch became the dominant traders in Indonesia, establishing the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1602. The VOC, however, was dissolved in 1798 and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a fully-fledged colony.

The Dutch colonial presence in Indonesia existed in various forms for over 300 years until the Japanese occupation in the second World War. During the war, Sukarno, a popular leader of the Indonesian Nationalist Party, cooperated with the occupying Japanese with the intention of strengthening the independence movement. On August 17, 1945, Sukarno, with the Japanese organized National Committee of Independence (BPUPKI) unilaterally declared Indonesian independence. Sukarno then became the first president, while Muhammad Hatta became the vice-president. Over the next four years, the Netherlands mounted military campaigns to reoccupy Indonesia, but in the face of international pressure acknowledged Indonesian independence in 1949.

Increasing tensions between the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and the Indonesian military culminated in an abortive coup on 30 September 1965 which saw six top-ranking generals murdered in circumstances that remain contentious even today. A quick counter-coup led by Major General Suharto resulted in an violent anti-communist purge centered mainly in Java and Bali. Hundreds of thousands were killed - some sources say as many as a million - in an event that went largely unreported in international media. Politically, Suharto capitalized on Sukarno's gravely weakened position in a drawn out power play between the two, and by March 1967 had maneuvered himself into the presidency. Commonly referred to as the New Order, Suharto's administration encouraged major foreign investment in Indonesia, which was to become a major factor in the subsequent three decades of substantial economic growth.

From 1997 to 1998, however, Indonesia became the country hardest hit by the East Asian Financial Crisis, aggravating popular discontent with Suharto, who already faced accusations of corruption, and further inflaming popular protests in early 1998. On 21 May 1998, President Suharto announced his resignation, ushering in the Reformasi era in Indonesia. A wide range of reforms have been introduced since then, including Indonesia's first direct presidential election in 2004, but progress has been slowed by political and economic instability, social unrest, terrorism and recent natural disasters. Although relations between different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, acute sectarian discontent, even violence, remains a problem in some areas. Political settlements relating to separatism issues have been achieved in Aceh and East Timor, the latter having seceded from Indonesia in 1999.

Government and politics

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the President of Indonesia.
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the President of Indonesia.

Structure and affiliations

Indonesia is a republic and a unitary state with a presidential system and power concentrated with the national government. The President of Indonesia is directly elected for a term of five years, and is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian armed forces, and responsible for domestic governance, policy-making and foreign affairs. The president appoints a council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature.

The highest legislative body is the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), an umbrella organization that consists of the People's Representative Council (DPR), and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD). The DPR is the lower house and its 550 members are elected for five-year terms on a proportional representation basis from each of Indonesia's 33 provinces. The DPD is a new chamber coming into effect in 2004 and is charged with managing regional representation within the central national government. Each province elects 4 members on a non-partisan basis. The DPD does not have, however, the revising powers of an upper house such as the United States Senate, rather it is restricted to bills concerning matters of regional management.

The Supreme Court is the highest level of the judicial branch. Its judges are appointed by the president. Each province has its own High Court.

Indonesia is a founding member of the Association of South East Asian Nations, and is therefore a member of both ASEAN+3 and the East Asia Summit. Since the 1980s, Indonesia has worked to develop close political and economic ties between South East Asian nations, and is influential in the Organization of Islamic Conference. During Suharto's presidency, Indonesia built strong relations with the United States, while it had difficult relations with the People's Republic of China due to Suharto's anti-communist policies and domestic tensions with the Chinese ethnic community.

Major contemporary issues

Indonesia was internationally condemned for its invasion and annexation of East Timor in the 1970s, for alleged human rights violations throughout the subsequent occupation, and for the military support of violent pro-integration militias following the 1999 independence referendum. Under the administration of President Yudhoyono, a ceasefire agreement was reached with separatists in Aceh in 2006, and in Papua there has been a significant, albeit imperfect, implementation of regional autonomy laws, and a reported decline in the levels of violence and human rights abuses.

National flags at the explosion site in Kuta, Bali
National flags at the explosion site in Kuta, Bali

Terrorism, linked to extreme Islamism, has been a critical challenge to the Indonesian Government since 2000. The most deadly attack came in 2002, killing 202 people, including 164 international tourists, in the resort town of Kuta, Bali. These and subsequent attacks in Jakarta and Bali have been linked to Al-Qaeda , and combined with travel warnings issued by a number of countries, have severely damaged the country’s important tourist industry and the economy's foreign investment prospects. In cooperation with other countries, the Government has achieved substantial success in apprehending and prosecuting the perpetrators and also towards fracturing their organizations, although terrorism is expected to be a major issue for Indonesia in the foreseeable future.

Administrative divisions

Map of the provinces of Indonesia
Map of the provinces of Indonesia

Indonesia currently has 33 provinces, three of which have special status. One is a special capital region. The provinces are subdivided into regencies and cities, which are further subdivided into subdistricts.

Indonesian provinces:

  1. Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam*
  2. North Sumatra (Sumatera Utara)
  3. West Sumatra (Sumatera Barat)
  4. Riau
  5. Riau Islands (Kepulauan Riau)
  6. Jambi
  7. South Sumatra (Sumatera Selatan)
  8. Bangka-Belitung
  9. Bengkulu
  10. Lampung
  11. Jakarta*
  12. Banten
  13. West Java (Jawa Barat)
  14. Central Java (Jawa Tengah)
  15. Yogyakarta*
  16. East Java (Jawa Timur)
  17. West Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat)
  1. Central Kalimantan (Kalimantan Tengah)
  2. South Kalimantan (Kalimantan Selatan)
  3. East Kalimantan (Kalimantan Timur)
  4. Bali
  5. West Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Barat)
  6. East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur)
  7. North Sulawesi (Sulawesi Utara)
  8. Gorontalo
  9. Central Sulawesi (Sulawesi Tengah)
  10. West Sulawesi (Sulawesi Barat)
  11. South Sulawesi (Sulawesi Selatan)
  12. South East Sulawesi (Sulawesi Tenggara)
  13. Maluku
  14. North Maluku (Maluku Utara)
  15. West Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Barat)
  16. Papua*

(*) indicates the provinces with special status.

The special territories have more autonomy from the central government than other provinces, and so have unique legislative privileges: the Acehnese government has the right to create an independent legal system, and instituted a form of sharia (Islamic Law) in 2003; Yogyakarta remains a sultanate whose sultan (currently the widely popular Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X) is the territory's de facto governor for life. Papua (formerly called Irian Jaya) has had special status since 2001. The special capital region is Jakarta. Though Jakarta is a single city, it is administered much as any other Indonesian province. For example, Jakarta has a governor (instead of a mayor), and is divided into several sub-regions with their own administrative systems.

East Timor was occupied by Indonesia from 1975 following a military invasion, until Indonesia relinquished its claims in 1999 after years of bitter fighting against East Timor guerrillas and abuses by Indonesian military forces against the East Timorese civilians. Following a period of transitional administration by the UN, it became an independent state in 2002.


Map of Indonesia - click for high resolution version
Map of Indonesia - click for high resolution version

Indonesia's 18,108 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited, are scattered around the equator, giving the country a tropical climate. The five main islands are Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea) and Sulawesi. Indonesia borders Malaysia on the island of Borneo (Indonesian, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea and East Timor on the island of Timor. The capital Jakarta is the nation's largest city, followed by Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, and Semarang.

Mount Semeru and Mount Bromo, East Java: Indonesia's seismic and volcanic activity is among the world's highest
Mount Semeru and Mount Bromo, East Java: Indonesia's seismic and volcanic activity is among the world's highest

At 1,919,440 km² (741,050 mi²), Indonesia is the world's 16th-largest country in terms of land area, after Saudi Arabia. Its population density is 134.39 people per square kilometer, 79th in the world.

Its location on the edges of three tectonic plates, specifically the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian plates, makes Indonesia a site of frequent earthquakes and the resulting tsunamis. Indonesia has at least 66 volcanoes, including Krakatoa, located between Sumatra and Java, and famous for its massive 1883 eruption.


Partly due to its vast size and tropical archipelago make-up, Indonesia has the world's second highest level of biodiversity (after Brazil) with its flora and fauna species a mixture of Asian and Australasian species. Once linked to the Asian mainland, the Greater Sunda Islands (Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java and Bali) have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, elephant, and leopard, although once abundant and distributed as far east as Bali, have dwindled drastically in number and distribution. Sumatra and Kalimantan still contain vast forests, predominantly Asian in nature, but they are being logged at rapid rates, while the smaller but densely populated Java and Bali are now predominantly developed for habitation and agriculture. Originally part of the Australian landmass, the highlands of Papua enclose a number of unique environments, including over 600 bird species, with fauna closely related to Australia’s. Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku, having been long separated from the continental landmasses, have developed their own unique flora and fauna.

The critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan, a great ape endemic to Indonesia
The critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan, a great ape endemic to Indonesia

Surrounding a vast number of islands with over 80,000km of coastline, the warm, tropical seas of Indonesia also boast a high level of biodiversity, corresponding with a diverse range of ecosystems including beaches, sand dunes, estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, coastal mudflats, tidal flats, algal beds, and small island ecosystems.

The British naturalist Alfred Wallace described a dividing line between the distribution of Indonesia's Asian and Australasian species, Known as the Wallace Line, it runs along the edge of the Sunda shelf, between Kalimantan and Sulawesi, and along the deep Lombok Strait, between Lombok and Bali. West of the line, the flora and fauna are more Asian, and as one travels east from Lombok they are increasingly Australian. Wallace described not only the transition between Asian and Australasian species, but also numerous species unique to the surrounding area, which is now known as Wallacea.

As a highly populous country part way through a rapid industrialisation process, Indonesia faces some grave ecological issues, which are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels and weak, under-resourced governance. These issues include large-scale deforestation, much of it illegal, and related wildfires which cause heavy smog over parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, over-exploitation of marine resources, and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanisation and economic development such as air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management, and reliable water and waste water services. Habitat destruction threatens the survival of many indigenous and endemic species, including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as threatened and 15 identified as critically endangered, including the Sumatran Orangutan.


Major agricultural products include palm oil, rice, tea, coffee, spices and rubber and major industries include Petroleum and natural gas, textiles, apparel, and mining. Bank Indonesia, the country's central bank was established in 1974 and received its independent central bank status in 1999. In 2005, the industrial production growth rate was 4.8% per annum, ranking 73rd in the world. Major trading partners include Japan, the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia.

The country has extensive natural resources outside Java, including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper, and gold. Indonesia is the world’s largest LNG producer, exporting about 20% of the world’s total volume in 2002. Apparently, in 2005, the income from exports was larger than the import's expenditure with $83.64 billion and $62.02 billion respectively. Indonesia's imports commodities include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs.

Despite being the only East Asian member of OPEC, Indonesia's fuel production has declined significantly over the years, owing to aging oil fields and lack of investment in new equipment. As a result, despite being an exporter of crude oil, Indonesia is now a net importer of oil and had previously subsidized fuel prices to keep prices low, costing US$ 7 billion in 2004. The current president has mandated a significant reduction of government subsidy of fuel prices in several stages. In order to alleviate economic hardships, the government has offered one-time subsidies to qualified citizens. The government has stated to reduce subsidies, aiming to reduce the budget deficit to 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, down from around 1.7% last year. The real gross domestic product (GDP) of Indonesia is projected to reach 5.2% in the second half year of 2006.

In the late 1990s, Indonesia suffered a drastic economic downturn followed by a significant but at times patchy and only partial recovery. This was largely due to the financial crisis that struck much of east Asia at the time, but was exacerbated by perceptions of corruption at all levels and a perceived slow pace of economic reform.

Indonesia has received large amounts of economic aid from bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental organizations ( NGOs). Although Indonesia finished its IMF program in December 2003, the country still receives bilateral aid through the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) which reached $2.8 billion for 2004 and 2005. Another aid package, totaling $5 billion, was granted through the NGO for the post-Tsunami reconstruction in Aceh. In total, Indonesia has received $43 billion in foreign aid.


Indonesia's population statistics are difficult to estimate. In the 2000 national census, an initial population estimate of 203 million was recorded but the Indonesian government later revised the figure to 206 million. The country's Central Statistics Bureau and Statistics Indonesia quoted 222 million as the population for 2006, The island of Java has 130 million people and is the most populous island in the world. Despite a considerably successful family planning program over the last four decades, Indonesia is expected to grow to a population of around 315 million in 2035 based on a current estimated annual growth rate of 1.25 per cent.

Ethnic groups

Balinese boys in Ubud
Balinese boys in Ubud

Most Indonesians are ethnically Malay, particularly in central and western Indonesia, while much of eastern Indonesia is Melanesian in ethnic make up. There are, however, approximately 300 different native ethnicities in Indonesia and 742 different languages and dialects. Small but significant populations of ethnic Chinese, Indians and Arabs are concentrated mostly in urban areas. An almost universally shared sense of Indonesian nationhood overlays this vast diversity and steadfastly maintained regional identities, providing a largely harmonious society. Indonesia, however, is not without social tensions with religious and ethnic differences triggering sometimes horrendous violence.

Minangkabau woman in traditional dress
Minangkabau woman in traditional dress

The Transmigration program contributed to the spread of people from highly populated Java and Madura to eastern Indonesia. Ethnic and religious differences between these immigrants and the local peoples have been blamed for numerous difficulties, sometimes culminating in bloody conflicts such as those between the Javanese and the Maduranese, the massacre of hundreds of Madurese by a local Dayak community in West Kalimantan, Maluku, Central Sulawesi, and parts of Papua and West Irian Jaya.

The Chinese Indonesians are arguably the most influential ethnic minority in Indonesia. Although the Chinese make up 2% of the population, the majority of the country’s businesses and wealth is Chinese-controlled. This has caused considerable resentment despite the fact that it is only a small proportion of Chinese that hold great wealth, and there are now large numbers of prosperous, middle class non-Chinese. The riots in Jakarta in 1998 in the weeks leading up to the resignation of long time president Suharto were the most deadly recent expressions of these sentiments.


The official national language, Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia in Indonesian), is universally taught in schools and is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It is the language of business, politics, national media, education and academia. Yet, in isolated areas even on the major islands it is not uncommon to find villagers who are not familiar with Indonesian. It was originally a lingua franca for most of the region, including present-day Malaysia (and is thus closely related to Malay), accepted by the Dutch as the de facto language for the colony, and declared the official language after independence.

Most Indonesians speak at least one of the several hundred local languages (bahasa daerah), often as their first language. Of these, Javanese is the most widely-spoken language, as it is the language of the largest ethnic group.


Indonesia religions mapAlthough all 6 recognised religions are represented thoughout Indonesia, this maps shows the majority group for each area
Indonesia religions map
Although all 6 recognised religions are represented thoughout Indonesia, this maps shows the majority group for each area

Although the Indonesian constitution guarantees religious freedom for all, the Government officially only recognises six religions, namely Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation with almost 86% of Indonesians declared Muslim according to the 2000 census. 11% of the population is Christian (of which roughly two-thirds are Protestant), 2% Hindu, and 1% Buddhist.

Before the arrival of the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Islam to the Malay Archipelago, the popular belief systems in the region were thoroughly influenced by Indic religious philosophy through Hinduism and Buddhism. The influence of Hinduism and classical India remain defining traits of Indonesian culture; including the Indian concept of the god-king which still shapes Indonesian concepts of leadership; the use of Sanskrit in courtly literature and adaptations of Indian mythology such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The vast majority of today’s Indonesian Hindus are Balinese who, similar to abangan Muslims, follow a version of Hinduism fused with existing cultural and religious beliefs and markedly distinct from orthodox Hinduism. The Sumatra-based Sriwijaya kingdom of the 7th century AD was the centre of Buddhism in Indonesia, however, most Buddhists in Indonesia today are ethnic Chinese.

Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, reportedly the largest in South East Asia
Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, reportedly the largest in South East Asia

Islam was first brought to northern Sumatra by Arab traders in the 13th century and had become Indonesia’s dominant religion by the 15th century. Although Islam was once mainly practiced in Java and Sumatra, emigration, largely from Java, has increased the number of Muslims living in Bali, Borneo, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua. Like other religions in Indonesia, Islam has blended with local traditional beliefs such as those practiced by the Abangan Muslims on Java and with other belief systems in northern Sumatra and Kalimantan. Such syncretic practises draw on distinctly Indonesian customs and typically differ from more Orthodox Islam by favoring local customs over Islamic law. One notable difference includes a generally greater level of freedom and higher social status for women. The majority of Indonesian Muslims are generally accepting of differing religious practices and interpretations within their own faith. At the same time, Muslims in Indonesia are typically devout; many have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, for example. More Orthodox Muslims who believe in a strict adherence to Sharia make up a significantly smaller but growing percentage of the population; for example, the wearing of a jilbab is becoming more common. There is also a small but outspoken hard-line Islamist presence in Indonesia, including movements such as Indonesian Mujahedeen Council. Most Indonesian Muslims are wary of these movements, some of which seek to supplant the Indonesian government and establish an Islamic state.

Catholicism was first brought to Indonesia by early Portuguese colonialists and missionaries, and the Protestant denominations are largely a result of Dutch Calvinist and Lutheran missionary efforts during its colonial time, although these efforts did not extend to Java or other predominantly Muslim areas. As with Islam and Hinduism, many Christian beliefs in Indonesia are combined with animism and other traditional beliefs and cultural practices.


The 9th century Buddhist monument, Borobudur in Central Java
The 9th century Buddhist monument, Borobudur in Central Java

Indonesia has around 300 ethnic groups each with cultural differences which have shifted over the centuries and the concept of Indonesian culture is a fusion of this diversity. One example is the Borobudur temple, which is a mix of Hinduism and Javanese culture, as it was built by a Javanese dynasty, the Sailendra. Indonesia has also imported cultural aspects from Arabic, Chinese, Malay and European sources.

Art forms in Indonesia have been influenced by several cultures. Traditional Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, contain aspects of Hindu culture and mythology as does the Javanese and Balinese wayang kulit shadow puppet shows, depicting several mythological events. Cloth such as batik, ikat and songket are created across Indonesia with different areas having different styles and specialisations. The most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture have traditionally been Indian, however, European architecture has had a significant influence, particularly from the 19th century. Pencak Silat is a unique martial art originating from the archipelago.

A Wayang kulit shadow puppet performance as seen by the audience
A Wayang kulit shadow puppet performance as seen by the audience

Indonesian music varies within cities and groups as people who live in the countryside would listen to a different kind of music than people in the city. Although rock was introduced in Indonesia by Indonesian rock band, God Bless (see Ian Antono), native Indonesian music is still preserved. Examples of Indonesian traditional music are Gamelan and Keroncong. A more modern form of Indonesian native music is Dangdut. The movie industry's popularity peaked in the 1980s and dominated cinemas in Indonesia, although it fell significantly in the early 1990s. For instance, in 1990, 115 local movies were produced while only 37 movies produced in 1993. However, as of the year 2000, the movie industry has improved gradually with a number of successful movies.

Media freedom in Indonesia increased considerably after the end of President Suharto's rule, during which the now-defunct Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media and restricted foreign media. The TV market includes 10 national commercial networks, which compete with public TVRI. Some provinces also operate their own stations. Private radio stations carry their own news bulletins and foreign broadcasters can supply programmes. The radio dial is crowded, with scores of stations on the air in Jakarta alone. Internet use is increasing Bisnis Indonesia reported in 2004 that there were 10 million users.

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