(Fast Facts of Indonesia)
Where is Indonesia?
Indonesia is the largest archipelago and the fourth most populous country in the world. Consisting of five main islands (Sumatra, Jawa, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua) with 33 provinces, 30 smaller archipelagos, it has a total of 17,508 islands of which about 6,000 are inhabited. The Republic of Indonesia is located in Southeast Asia and stretches 5,150 km between the Australian and Asian continental mainland and divides the Pacific and Indian Oceans at the Equator. The name Indonesia is composed of two Greek words: “Indos” which means Indian and “nesos” meaning islands. The capital city of Indonesia is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
What’s the climate like?
Indonesia climate is distinctly tropical. The east monsoon from June to September brings dry weather while the west monsoon from December to March is moisture-laden Indonesia In General bringing rain. The transitional period between these two are interposed by occasional rainshowers, but even in the midst of the west monsoon season, temperatures range from 21 degrees C (70 F) to 33 degrees C. (90 F) except at higher altitudes which are much cooler. Heaviest rainfalls are recorded in December and January. Humidity is between 60-100 %.
Language and Dialects
There are more 583 languages and dialects spoken in the archipelago. There normally belong to the 350 different ethnic groups of the population. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language, written in Roman script and based on European orthography. In all tourist destination areas English is the number one foreign languages fairly spoken and written.
Food and Dining
The staple food of most of Indonesia is “nasi” (rice). On some of the island in eastern Indonesia, staple food traditionally ranged from corn, sago, cassava to sweet potatoes. Fish features prominently in the diet as fresh, salted, dried, smoked or a paste. Coconut is found everywhere and besides being produced for cooking oil, its milk - the juice from the white meat - is an ingredient for many dishes. Spices and hot chili Peppers are the essence of most cooking, and in some areas they are used generously such as in West Sumatra and North Sulawesi. Each province or area has its own cuisine, which vary in the method of cooking and ingredients. The Javanese cuisine is probably more palatable to the general taste and consists of vegetables, soybeans, beef, chicken and other varieties. The Sumatrans generally eat more beef compared to the other regions. West Sumatra particularly is known for its Padang restaurants found nationwide. Beside the hot and spicy food, these restaurants are known for their unique style of service. Further to the east, seafood features on the daily diet, either grilled or made into curries. In Bali, Papua and the highlands of North Sumatra and North Sulawesi pork dishes are specialities. Pork is ussually served in Chinese restaurants or non-moslem regions. There is a wide variety of tropical and sub-tropical fruits and vegetables all year round. Coffee and tea plantations are plentiful, growing on several islands, and served everywhere from fine restaurants to small village stalls. There are several breweries which produce local beer. Bali produces “brem” which is a rice wine, whereas Toraja has its “tuak” which is also known in North Sumatra. Most common nationwide are “sate” (skewered grilled meat), “gado-gado” (vegetable salad with a peanut sauce), “nasi goreng” (fried rice served at anytime) and “bakmi goreng” (fried noodles).