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September 2009

Indonesia, 2002

Indonesia, 2002

Indonesia is a huge archipelagic country, or chain of islands, extending 5,120 kilometers from east to west and 1,760 kilometers from north to south. It encompasses 17,508 islands, only 6,000 of which are inhabited. There are five main islands (Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Irian Jaya), two major archipelagos (Nusa Tenggara and the Maluku Islands), and sixty smaller archipelagos. Two of the islands are shared with other nations; Kalimantan (known in the colonial period as Borneo, the world's third largest island) is shared with Malaysia and Brunei, and Irian Jaya shares the island of New Guinea with Papua New Guinea. Indonesia's total land area is 1,919,317 square kilometers. Included in Indonesia's total territory is another 93,000 square kilometers of inlands seas (straits, bays, and other bodies of water). Indonesia is strategically situated astride or along major sea lanes from Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean. Border countries include Timor-Leste, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.

Indonesia's estimated 245.5 million people, as of July 2006, make it the world's fourth-most populous nation. The island of Java, roughly the size of New York State, is the most populous island in the world (124 million, 2005 est.) and one of the most densely populated areas in the world; its capital city, Jakarta, has an estimated population of about 8.8 million. Other major cities are Surabaya, Medan, and Bandung. Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom apply to the six religions recognized by the state, namely Islam (86.1%), Protestantism (5.7%), Catholicism (3%), Hinduism (1.8%), Buddhism (about 1%), and Confucianism (less than 1%). On the resort island of Bali, over 90% of the population practices Hinduism.

Indonesia's islands are mountainous, with some peaks reaching 3,800 meters above sea level in the western islands and as high as 5,000 meters in Irian Jaya. The highest point of elevation is Puncak Jaya (5,039 meters), in Irian Jaya. The region is tectonically unstable with some 400 volcanoes, of which 100 are active. The climate is mostly tropical, hot, and humid, with more moderate climate in the highlands. There is little variation in the temperature because of the almost uniformly warm waters that are part of the archipelago. Located on the equator, the archipelago experiences relatively little change in the length of daylight hours from one season to the next; the difference between the longest day and the shortest day of the year is only forty-eight minutes.

Natural hazards facing Indonesia are occasional floods, severe droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and forest fires. The country continues the work of rebuilding from the devastating tsunami and earthquake disasters of previous years, which have caused damage and losses in the billions dollars. In September 2009, an earthquake struck a fault line off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, near the city of Padang. According to the U.S Geological Survey, the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.6 and a depth of 53 miles. For more information on this earthquake see: United States Geological Survey Earthquakes Hazards Program.

CIA World Factbook, U.S. State Department Background Notes, LC Country Studies, 2009/09; 2009/03; 1992/11

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