Indonesia, The Never Forgotten Enchantment


Indonesia is the largest archipelago and fourth most populous in the world. The country is geographically situated between the Australian and Asian continental mainland and divides the Pacific and Indian oceans at the equator. Consisting five main islands: Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi (Celebes), and Papua; 30 smaller archipellagos, the country is made up of total 17,508 islands of which around 6,000 are inhabited across 33 provinces. Indonesia stretches 5,150 km from Sabang in the westernmost tip of Sumatra to Merauke in Papua to east. Jakarta is the capital city, the home for more than 8 million people.

Biodiversity

The island nation of Indonesia covers only one-hundredth of the Earth’s surface yet harbours one-tenth of all flowering plants, one eight of the world’s mammal, one sixth of the birds and more than a quarter of all marine and freshwater fishes.

This richness can be attributed to the fact that Indonesia spans two major biogeographically realms: Indomalaya and Australasia, and has received plant and animal immigrants from both. The archipelago support a diverse range of habitats from coastal mangroves and lowland rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo to the savanna grasslands of Nusa Tenggara; from the limestone hills and palm-rich forest of Sulawesi to the coral reef of Maluku and the montane forest, alpine meadows and eternal ice fields of Papua. These varied habitats support a rich flora and fauna with many species unique to Indonesia: Raflessia, the world’s largest flower, the rare orang utan, the fabled Komodo dragon, the curious babirusa of Sulawesi, and more.

Climate

Tropical. The east monsoon from June to September brings dry weather, while the west monsoon from December to March, a transitional period in between, are interposed by occasional rain showers. Even in thr midst of the west monsoon season, temperatures range from 21o C (70oF) to 33oC (90oF), except at higher altitudes, which are substantially cooler and less humid. The heaviest seasonal rainfalls are recorded from December through January. Humidity is between 60-100%.

Culture

Culture of Indonesia is very unique and colorful. More than 480 ethnic groups keep alive over 583 local languages, but Indonesian are united by the national language, Bahasa Indonesia.

Five main religions Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholic, and Protestant exist side by side with Muslim forming the majority of the population. The displays of the nation’s long history of tolerance and openness. Religion is also influencing most of Indonesian art forms greatly.

Not only art forms, Indonesian culture also rich in the diversity of heritage site, philosophy, custom, ceremony, myth, dance, craft, music, etc. The present day culture of Indonesia is an outcome of the interplay of age-old- traditions from the time of early migrants and the Western thought brought by Portuguese traders and Dutch colonists. In addition, age-old customs in the lives of the indigenous tribes of West Papua co-exist in harmony with a post-modern culture.

Culinary

Indonesia is a land abundant in natural richness both on land and on seas. Rich volcanic soil make for a bountiful harvest of tropical fruits, vegetables, and most of importantly: rice, the main staple for majority of Indonesians. Because of its strategic location on the crossroad of vital trade links, for centuries Indonesia has welcomed merchants, traders, and scholar who have taken root and influenced local cultures.

For a long time, Maluku islands were the world’s only source of clove and nutmeg, famed as the Spice Islands, sought and fought over by Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish during 16th to 17th centuries. Eventually, it was Dutch who won control and established the Dutch East Indies Company.

During their 350 years of occupation, Dutch introduced plantation system and produced sugar, spices, rubber, tea, coffee, and cacao. With such diversity, it’s not surprising that Indonesia has an incredibly varied culinary tradition with ingredients and cooking style inspired by Chinese, European, Indian, and Middle Eastern traditions.

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