|THE INDONESIA COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Indonesia within the continent of Asia
Map of Indonesia
Flag Description of Indonesia:The Indonesia flag was officially adopted on August 17, 1945.
The flag is modeled after the 13th century banner of the Indonesian Empire; the red stripe represents the body, while the white stripe represents the soul.
Official name Republik Indonesia (Republic of Indonesia)
Form of government multiparty republic with two legislative houses (Regional Representatives Council1 ; House of Representatives )
Head of state and government President: Joko Widodo
Official language Indonesian
Official religion monotheism
Monetary unit rupiah (Rp)
Population (2013 est.) 248,336,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 737,815
Total area (sq km) 1,910,931
- Urban: (2010) 44.3%
- Rural: (2010) 55.7%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2012) 69.1 years
- Female: (2012) 74.3 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2010) 95.8%
- Female: (2010) 91.5%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2012) 3,420
1Has limited legislative authority.
The Dutch began to colonize Indonesia in the early 17th century; Japan occupied the islands from 1942 to 1945. Indonesia declared its independence shortly before Japan's surrender, but it required four years of sometimes brutal fighting, intermittent negotiations, and UN mediation before the Netherlands agreed to transfer sovereignty in 1949. A period of sometimes unruly parliamentary democracy ended in 1957 when President SOEKARNO declared martial law and instituted "Guided Democracy." After an abortive coup in 1965 by alleged communist sympathizers, SOEKARNO was gradually eased from power. From 1967 until 1988, President SUHARTO ruled Indonesia with his "New Order" government. After rioting toppled Suharto in 1998, free and fair legislative elections took place in 1999. Indonesia is now the world's third most populous democracy, the world's largest archipelagic state, and the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. Current issues include: alleviating poverty, improving education, preventing terrorism, consolidating democracy after four decades of authoritarianism, implementing economic and financial reforms, stemming corruption, reforming the criminal justice system, holding the military and police accountable for human rights violations, addressing climate change, and controlling infectious diseases, particularly those of global and regional importance. In 2005, Indonesia reached a historic peace agreement with armed separatists in Aceh, which led to democratic elections in Aceh in December 2006. Indonesia continues to face low intensity armed resistance in Papua by the separatist Free Papua Movement.
Geography of Indonesia
Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia, with a maximum dimension from east to west of about 3,200 miles (5,100 km) and an extent from north to south of 1,100 miles (1,800 km). It shares a border with Malaysia in the northern part of Borneo and with Papua New Guinea in the centre of New Guinea. Indonesia is composed of some 17,500 islands, of which more than 7,000 are uninhabited. Almost three-fourths of Indonesia’s area is embraced by Sumatra, Kalimantan, and western New Guinea; Celebes, Java, and the Moluccas account for most of the country’s remaining area.
The major Indonesian islands are characterized by densely forested volcanic mountains in the interior that slope downward to coastal plains covered by thick alluvial swamps that, in turn, dissolve into shallow seas and coral reefs. Beneath this surface the unique and complex physical structure of Indonesia encompasses the junction of three major sections of the Earth’s crust and involves a complicated series of shelves, volcanic mountain chains, and deep-sea trenches. The island of Borneo and the island arc that includes Sumatra, Java, Bali, and the Lesser Sunda chain sit on the Sunda Shelf, a southward extension of the continental mass of Asia.--->>>>>Read On.<<<<
Because of its insularity, Indonesia has no large rivers comparable to those on the Asian mainland. Indonesian rivers generally are relatively short and flow from interior mountains to the sea. The Kapuas (710 miles [1,140 km] long), Barito (560 miles [900 km]), and Mahakam (480 miles [770 km]) rivers of Kalimantan are among the longest, but shifting sandbars across their mouths reduce their importance for large-vessel transportation. Western New Guinea, most of which receives heavy rainfall, is drained by a number of large rivers, including the Baliem, the Mamberamo, and the Digul.
There are a number of notable lakes on Sumatra, the most famous of which is Lake Toba, which lies in the north at an elevation of about 3,000 feet (900 metres) above sea level and covers some 440 square miles (1,140 square km). Celebes also has several large, deep lakes, including Lakes Towuti and Matama in the southern part of the island and Lake Poso in the centre.
The seas surrounding Indonesia must also be viewed as important hydrologic features that serve both as channels of communication and as barriers protecting distinctive cultural and environmental features of the islands. The shallow seas between many of the islands are a significant source of offshore petroleum, natural gas, minerals, and food.
Indonesia illustrates the relation between climate and source rock in the formation of soils. The rocks on Java are primarily andesitic volcanics (dark gray rocks consisting essentially of the minerals oligoclase or feldspar), while rhyolites (the acidic lava form of granite) are dominant on Sumatra, granites in the Riau archipelago, granites and sediments in Kalimantan, and sediments in western New Guinea. The resulting soils in humid regions are mainly lateritic (containing iron oxides and aluminum hydroxide) and of varying fertility depending on the source rock; they include heavy black or gray-black margalite soils and limestone soils. Black soils occur in regions with a distinct dry season.
Among the most fertile soils are the ando soils, which developed on the andesitic volcanic sediments of the northeastern coast of Sumatra. Highly fertile soils, also derived from or enriched by basic andesitic volcanic material, occur on Java and Celebes as well. Valuable volcanic ash is transported by wind and deposited as a layer of homogeneous, fresh inorganic material over wide areas; it is also carried as suspended material in streams and irrigation channels. Minerals that are leached from the soil are replaced by alluvial deposition from rivers, as in some parts of Kalimantan, or by deposition in impounded water or rice terraces.
In general, the perpetual high temperatures and heavy precipitation throughout much of Indonesia have caused rapid erosion and deep chemical weathering and leaching, which usually produce impoverished soil. In areas covered with tropical rainforests, such as Kalimantan, the soils are protected by the forest cycle; as plants die, they decompose rapidly, releasing nutrients that are reabsorbed by new vegetation growth. Although such soils support a luxuriant growth, they cannot support a large agricultural population, because clearing the forest breaks the cycle and can lead to accelerated soil deterioration.
The climate of Indonesia is determined partly by its island structure and its position astride the Equator, which assure high, even temperatures. In addition, its location between the two landmasses of Asia and Australia exposes it to seasonal patterns of precipitation brought by monsoon winds.--->>>>>Read On.<<<<
Demography of Indonesia
Indonesia is situated at the meeting point of two of the world’s population groups, Asians in the west and Melanesians in the east. The great majority of Indonesians are related to the peoples of eastern Asia, although over the centuries there also has been considerable mixing with Arabs, Indians, and Europeans. In the eastern islands, however, most of the people are of Melanesian origin.
The Indonesian national motto, “Bhinneka tunggal ika” (“Unity in diversity”), makes reference to the extraordinary diversity of the Indonesian population that has emerged from the ongoing confluence of peoples, languages, and cultures. The country includes more than 300 different ethnic groups and more than twice as many distinct languages, and most of the major world religions, as well as a wide range of indigenous ones, are practiced there. Notwithstanding this diversity, most of the people are of Malay ancestry, speak Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) languages, and profess Islam.
The barriers of the mountains and the sea have protected the character and traditions of many groups. Away from the major cities and areas of dense population, there are significant variations from one valley to the next and almost from one village to the next. In many cases the highland groups of the larger islands—Borneo, Sumatra, and Celebes—were relatively untouched by international influences until the arrival of Christian missionaries during the 19th century; these upland peoples continue to reflect great cultural diversity. Each island or group of islands east of Java also has maintained its own distinct character, in many cases strongly influenced by different religions. In particular, Bali—with its long tradition of Hindu and Buddhist influences rooted in local religious practices—is quite different in character and customs from any other part of Indonesia.--->>>>>Read On.<<<<
Most of the several hundred languages spoken in Indonesia have an Austronesian base. The major exceptions are found in western New Guinea and some of the Moluccas, where different Papuan languages are used. The Austronesian language family is broken into several major groups within which languages are closely related though distinctly different. On Java there are three major languages—Javanese, Sundanese, and Madurese—while on Sumatra there are dozens, many of which are divided into distinct dialects. Within the Toraja group, a relatively small population in the interior of Celebes, several languages are spoken. In eastern Indonesia each island has its own language, which is often not understood on the neighbouring islands. Similarly, languages often differ from one village to the next in the interior of Kalimantan.
Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is the national language. It evolved from a literary style of Malay language that was used in the royal houses of the Riau-Jambi area of eastern Sumatra, but it also has much in common with other Malay dialects that have long served as regional lingua francas. The differences between standard Malay and standard Indonesian reside largely in their idioms and in certain items of vocabulary. In 1972 Indonesia and Malaysia agreed on a uniform revised spelling of the language so that communications could be improved and literature more freely exchanged between the two countries.
Because it has no distinctive expressions based on social hierarchy and is not associated with one of the dominant ethnic groups, the Indonesian language has been accepted without serious question and has served as a strong force of national unification. Since the early 20th century it has been the main language of print in different parts of the country; it also served as the medium of political communication among members of the nationalist movement leading up to the revolution and declaration of independence in 1945. Writers of ethnic Chinese and Sumatran origins produced novels, plays, and poetry in the language, from which a modern Indonesian literature was born. Today the Indonesian language is the mother tongue for some city dwellers and a second language for most Indonesians. It is the medium of instruction in universities, and it is used in scientific, philosophical, and legal writings and debates. Radio stations, television channels, and films employ it (they rarely use local languages), and most popular songs with a national audience are written in the Indonesian language as well. (There are, however, locally popular groups that write and perform songs in regional languages and dialects.)
Some three-fourths of the Indonesian population professes Islam. There are, however, pockets of Christians, who make up about one-eighth of the population, scattered throughout the country, particularly in Flores, Timor, northern Celebes, the interior of Kalimantan, and the Moluccas. Most are Protestant or independent Christian, and the remainder are mainly Roman Catholic. Many Chinese in the cities are also Christian, but some follow Buddhism or Confucianism, sometimes blended with Christianity. Hindus account for less than 5 percent of all Indonesians, although Hinduism is the dominant religion on Bali and has many adherents in Lombok. Local religions are practiced in some remote areas.
The major religions of Indonesia were all introduced on the coast and, except in such open areas as Java and southern Sumatra (which were free of natural impediments), penetrated slowly inland. Regions such as central Kalimantan and western New Guinea, the mountains of northern Sumatra, and the interiors of other mountainous islands long remained virtually untouched by outside religions. However, much 20th-century Christian missionary activity has focused on these inland-dwelling peoples.
The earliest recorded Indonesian history shows extensive religious influences from India; the early Indonesian states that centred on Java or Sumatra evolved through many forms of Hinduism and Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. During the 9th century ce, both Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced as court religions; Shiva and Buddha were looked upon as manifestations of the same spiritual being. The blending of the two religions continued until the 14th century, when Islam, brought by Muslim traders primarily from South Asia, emerged as the dominant religion along the coasts of Java and Sumatra. By the 15th century, Islam had gained a firm footing in coastal areas of other islands of the archipelago as well.
Throughout all the religious changes on the court level, the common people adopted part of each new religion as an additional layer on top of their traditional local beliefs. Consequently, Islam is expressed differently in Indonesia than it is in the Middle East. The religion is most strictly practiced in Aceh, western Sumatra, western Java, southeastern Kalimantan, and some of the Lesser Sunda Islands. On Java, Muslims who follow orthodox practices are referred to as the santri. By contrast, the abangan adhere to a more syncretic tradition, strongly influenced by ancestral beliefs and practices. With the growth of a more religion-conscious middle class, especially since the late 20th century, the abangan way of believing has been in retreat, while more-orthodox Muslim practices have been on the rise. However, the many local rituals connected with birth, death, and marriage are carefully observed by people at all levels, and ceremonies (selamatan) are held on all special occasions.
- RURAL SETTLEMENT
Indonesia is largely a rural country, with more than half of the population living in agricultural areas. Because volcanoes play a major role in soil development and enrichment, there is a strong relationship between agricultural development, density of population, and location of volcanoes. The greatest concentration of active volcanoes is on Java, and the greatest population densities occur in areas such as those to the south and east of Mount Merapi, where the soil is enriched by volcanic ash and debris. The same pattern occurs on Bali and in northern Sumatra, where the rich soils are directly related to flows from volcanic eruptions. The islands of Java, Madura, and Bali have a highly systematized rural structure that is based largely on wet-rice cultivation. Other areas of high rural population are found in parts of Sumatra and Celebes. Most of the rest of the country is sparsely settled by small communities that engage in subsistence agriculture.--->>>>>Read On.<<<<
Economy of Indonesia
Indonesia has played a modest role in the world economy since the mid-20th century, and its importance has been considerably less than its size, resources, and geographic position would seem to warrant. The country is a major exporter of crude petroleum and natural gas. In addition, Indonesia is one of the world’s main suppliers of rubber, coffee, cocoa, and palm oil; it also produces a wide range of other commodities, such as sugar, tea, tobacco, copra, and spices (e.g., cloves). Nearly all commodity production comes from large estates. Widespread exploration for deposits of oil and other minerals has resulted in a number of large-scale projects that have contributed substantially to general development funds.
Although Indonesia has remained a major importer of manufactured goods, high technology, and technical skills since the early 1970s, the country’s economic base has shifted from the primary sector to secondary and tertiary industries—manufacturing, trade, and services. Manufacturing surpassed agriculture in terms of contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) in the early 1990s and has continued to be the largest single component of the country’s economy. A significant portion of the national budget has continued to be allocated to agriculture, however; consequently, the country has remained self-sufficient in rice production since the mid-1980s.
During the early years of Indonesia’s independence, economic mismanagement and the subordination of development to political ideals under the “Guided Economy” policy of the country’s first president, Sukarno (1949–66), led to financial chaos and to a serious deterioration in the capital stock. With a major change of economic direction after Suharto assumed power in the mid-1960s, some measure of stability was regained, and the conditions for an orderly policy of rehabilitation and economic development were established.
From 1969 to 1998 a series of five-year plans emphasized the government’s role in developing the economic infrastructure of the country, notably in agriculture, irrigation, transportation, and communications. Thus, the government, together with foreign aid, has been a major force in propelling development in areas where private enterprise has not been immediately forthcoming; the state-owned oil company Pertamina was a product of these government initiatives. In the late 20th century, the emphasis in the public sector tended increasingly toward independent, self-financing state enterprises.
Substantial expansion of the private sector has been evident since the mid-1990s. Prior to that time, growth generally had been confined to a rather small group of conglomerates, most benefiting from the government’s favour. Small business was slower to develop. The deregulation of the capital market in the early 1980s triggered spectacular growth in the stock exchange, but despite the increase in domestic investment, direct participation in the stock market remained limited to a very small group of investors.
Foreign direct investment spiked in the 1990s but rapidly receded in the aftermath of the Asian economic crisis sparked by the collapse of the Thai baht in 1997. The government subsequently inaugurated a four-year national development plan that helped return the economy to its precrisis strength. By 2003 the country was stable enough to allow the expiration of an economic reform program that had been sponsored by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A new development strategy involving liberalization in some areas and limitation of foreign ownership in others has aimed to establish Indonesia as a fully self-sufficient (swasembada) country in the 21st century.
- Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
The consistent monsoon climate and almost even distribution of rainfall in Indonesia make it possible for the same types of crops to be grown throughout the country. Less than one-fifth of the total land surface, however, is devoted to crop cultivation. Most agricultural land is dedicated to rice or to various cash crops. Intensive cultivation is restricted to Java, Bali, Lombok, and certain areas of Sumatra and Celebes. In Java much of the land of the northern coastal and central plains is planted with rice. In the drier section of eastern Java, crops such as corn (maize), cassava, sweet potatoes, peanuts (groundnuts), and soybeans dominate the small farms, although such cash crops as tobacco and coffee also are grown on plantations.
Development in Sumatra and in the outer islands is less intensive and consists primarily of estate-raised cash crops. Sumatra accounts for a major portion of the total area under estate production, and most plantations are located in the island’s northeastern coastal region. Around Medan there are extensive plantations producing tobacco, rubber, palm oil, kapok, tea, cloves, and coffee, none of which is native to the region. Rice, corn, and cassava are grown in the Padang area in the west and around the oil fields near Palembang in the southeast.
Since the late 20th century there has been a shift from rice toward less-demanding subsistence crops, such as cassava. Rice has remained the cornerstone of small-scale agriculture, however, and increased production of it has been an important aim of every economic development plan. The government intervenes in the marketing of rice to maintain production at an economically viable level. Various “mass guidance” (bimbingan massal) schemes to broaden the availability of credit and to promote the use of fertilizers and high-yielding varieties have increased rice output. Although the country is self-sufficient in rice production, there has been a persistent tendency since the late 1990s to import additional rice.
Private enterprises have joined the government in developing Indonesia’s palm oil and sugar industries, as well as its fisheries. Large-scale agribusiness is becoming a more important component of the country’s economy, with increasing government investment. Export of cultivated shrimp from sizable farms in western Java and southern Sumatra has been a boon to middle-sized businesses. Milkfish also are bred through aquaculture. Scad, tuna, and mackerel are the primary products of open-sea fishing.
Indonesia has some of the world’s largest tracts of exploitable tropical forest, especially in Kalimantan and Papua. There are several small areas of deciduous forest and plantations (mostly teak), but most of the trees are evergreen tropical hardwoods. The production of plywood and veneers has become important for both domestic consumption and export. Major timber operations are located primarily in Kalimantan, but logging also occurs on the other large islands; legitimate companies as well as illegal loggers target certain species, such as meranti (a subspecies of the genus Shorea), which yields an easily workable, relatively lightweight reddish wood. Teak is extracted mainly from Java.
Since the 1960s the timber industry has grown rapidly, but it has caused considerable damage through deforestation. Also a threat to the environment are frequent large-scale forest fires, most of which stem from “slash-and-burn” (swidden) subsistence agriculture or government clearing for plantations; these fires not only destroy vast areas of vegetation but also generate haze that frequently reaches as far as Singapore and peninsular Malaysia. Deforestation and air quality issues prompted environmentalists to urge the Indonesian government to curtail clear-cutting of trees, to control burning, and to implement reforestation programs.
- Resources and power
Indonesia has a large, and in many cases unprospected, variety of mineral deposits. Mining, including the extraction of oil and natural gas, accounts for roughly one-tenth of the country’s GDP, and through exports and taxation it contributes substantially to foreign-exchange earnings and development. The mining industry employs only a tiny fraction of the workforce, however.
Fossil fuels, including petroleum, natural gas, and coal, constitute a major source of revenue. They are produced primarily in Sumatra and Kalimantan and from offshore sites in the Java and South China seas. Although refinery production since 1968 has been in the hands of the government-owned petroleum company Pertamina, foreign oil companies operate under a production-sharing formula. Under this arrangement, the ownership of oil resources remains with the government of Indonesia, and the foreign companies act as contractors, supplying the necessary capital. Since the last decades of the 20th century, Indonesia has greatly expanded its production of coal, to become one of the world’s leading exporters. The sale of liquefied natural gas is also increasingly important.
In addition to its hydrocarbon reserves, Indonesia’s mineral resources contribute significantly to the economy. The country is one of the world’s largest producers of tin, deposits of which are found on the islands of Bangka, Singkep, and Belitung and off the southwestern shore of Kalimantan. Bauxite is mined mostly on the Riau Islands and in western Kalimantan and is processed at an aluminum smelter—the first in Southeast Asia—at Kualatanjung in northern Sumatra. Celebes, Halmahera and other islands of the Moluccas, and Papua are sources of nickel. Manganese is present in central Java and on Sumatra, Kalimantan, Celebes, and Timor. Major copper deposits are mined in the Jayawijaya Mountains of Papua; smaller deposits have been found in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, and Celebes. Most of Indonesia’s gold comes from Papua.
The bulk of Indonesia’s electrical power is generated from fossil fuels. Until the late 20th century, the majority of the country’s power was provided by oil or gas. As the government stepped up its production of coal, however, it also strove to increase the domestic use of that resource. By the early 21st century, less than half the country’s power stations were fueled by oil or gas. Many plants were coal-driven, some were hydroelectric, and a small portion of plants were powered by geothermal sources.
In the early 1970s import substitution (replacement of foreign-produced goods and services with those produced domestically) and support for the agricultural sector were the two major aims of industrial policy. Import substitution was geared to commodities such as food, textiles, fertilizers, and cement, and this required consistent government protection and controls. This policy proved to be both inefficient and expensive, however, and following the sharp decline in oil revenues in the 1980s, reforms were introduced to increase the competitive position of Indonesian manufactures in international markets. The government launched a series of deregulations and encouraged domestic and international private investment. Although many companies remained in government hands, the state also participated in joint ventures with the private sector.
As a result, the manufacturing sector has become the single largest contributor to the economy, constituting well over one-fourth of GDP and employing just over one-tenth of the labour force. A significant proportion of production is handled by medium- and small-scale privately owned enterprises, which supply consumer goods. Small-scale workshops manufacture such consumer goods and general products as furniture, household equipment, textiles, and printed matter. Since the mid-1980s there has been a major shift toward developing large-scale and high-technology industries, such as telecommunications and electronics; automobile manufacturing has expanded especially rapidly in the 21st century. The centre of private industry is in western Java, although considerable development has taken place in Jakarta.
One of the country’s principal industries based on imported raw materials is textile manufacturing. Spinning mills are largely state owned or in the hands of foreign companies, while weaving and finishing factories, which are centred in Bandung, are generally small-scale and privately owned by local entrepreneurs. Batik production—an Indonesian method of hand-dyeing textiles—is concentrated in central Java. Although production of batik remains a major cottage industry, there are a number of larger-scale operations.
Bank Indonesia, the central bank, is responsible for issuing the rupiah, the national currency. Other major government-owned institutions include the state savings bank, banks specializing in rural and industrial development, and a large commercial bank with overseas branches. Each bank is diversified and operates independently. Private domestic banks and foreign banks also operate in Indonesia. Nonbanking financial institutions are restricted. Indonesia has stock exchanges in Jakarta and Surabaya.
Generally, the aims of the government’s credit and fiscal policies have been to provide the conditions for private incentive within the context of financial orthodoxy. Before the 1980s, Indonesia’s capital market had been limited to the state-dominated banking system. Subsidized credit and interest rates were used in accordance with general government priorities, and a credit ceiling was imposed to ensure monetary stability. The credit ceiling, however, resulted in excess reserves held by state banks and ultimately triggered a restructuring and deregulation of the banking system.
In 1983 a reform package decontrolled the interest rate and abolished the credit ceiling system. Further reforms in 1988 liberalized licensing for new banks and lowered reserve requirements. The result was a dramatic expansion in the number of private banks, their branches, and the banks’ share of total deposits. The Jakarta Stock Exchange also experienced explosive growth.
The surge, however, was accompanied by a rise in interest rates (both for deposits and for lending), which effectively stifled domestic investment. In an effort to curb inflation, Bank Indonesia tightened the money supply, a move that further destabilized the country’s financial sector. When the Asian monetary crisis struck in 1997, Indonesia’s banking industry was among the first casualties.
In 1998 the government established the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) to extricate the financial sector from its monumental debt. IBRA accomplished this task largely through the closure and consolidation of financially precarious banks. The remaining banks then prioritized households and small businesses in their lending, which stimulated growth in the domestic private sphere. By 2004 the banking sector had stabilized, the country had returned to a general pattern of economic growth, and IBRA was dissolved—on schedule.
A complex and reasonably well-developed commercial sector has existed in Indonesia for many decades, if not centuries, based on the marketing and exporting of agricultural produce and on supplying consumer goods and services to the domestic market. Historically, trade has been dominated by Indonesian Chinese, although other segments of the population, especially people from western Sumatra and southern Celebes, also have made notable contributions.
No longer simply an exporter of agricultural produce, Indonesia has become an established international supplier of petroleum and petroleum products; rubber products; garments, shoes, and textiles; wood and wood products (including paper); machinery of various sorts (including automobiles); and other commodities, such as electronic products. Primary imports include petroleum and natural gas, machinery, chemicals, metals, and transport equipment. Indonesia’s most important trading partners include Japan, the United States, Singapore, China, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia.
Services constitute a major segment of the Indonesian economy, generating more than one-third of GDP. Tourism in particular has emerged as a major source of income, although the industry’s growth suffered setbacks with the Asian economic crisis in 1997–98 and with multiple terrorist attacks and the outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) in the early 21st century.
Indonesia’s industrialization has not produced strong organized labour. This is attributable in part to a surplus of labour in the job market; most lower-class Indonesians work in traditional, informal, and marginal jobs. Political repression under the Suharto presidency (1967–98) also discouraged politically motivated associations of workers. Rather, the government sought to incorporate functional groups such as those of farmers and fishermen into a quasi-governmental political party.
Because Indonesia is an island country, sea transport plays a key role in the movement of raw materials and agricultural products from their sources to markets. Although the physical nature of the country has favoured the development of strong sea links for freight and strong air links for passengers, many parts of Indonesia have not been adequately served by the transport network, a factor that has critically hampered economic development. The rapid expansion of telecommunications networks, however, has helped mitigate the insularity of some regions.--->>>>>Read On.<<<<
Government and Society of Indonesia
The Republic of Indonesia was declared in 1945, with a proclaimed jurisdiction over the present area from Sabang in Sumatra to Merauke in Papua, or the entire area of the former Dutch (or Netherlands) East Indies. Although the Netherlands retained possession of a large part of this region (including Papua), a provisional capital was established in Yogyakarta, the stronghold of the revolution.
With the close of the struggle for independence in 1949, the Republic of the United States of Indonesia was established. The federal system did not last, however, and in 1950 the federated governments unanimously decided to return to a “unitary”—or more centralized—form of government, as well as to the name Republic of Indonesia. After some difficulties, the constitution of 1945 was reinstated by presidential decree. This constitution has remained the basis of Indonesia’s government, although some significant amendments were made during a period of reformasi (reformation) around the turn of the 21st century.
- Constitutional framework
The 1945 constitution invests most of the power in the executive branch of the government, particularly in the president, who is assisted by a vice president and a cabinet. The constitution also provides for a body of presidential advisers, called the Supreme Advisory Council (Dewan Pertimbangan Agung)—the advice of which is not legally binding, however—as well as a presidentially appointed Supreme Audit Board (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan), which controls state finance. Until 2002 the president and vice president were elected every five years by the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat; MPR), but in that year a new law decreed that beginning in 2004 both leaders were to be directly elected. In addition, legislation passed in 1999 limited the president to two five-year terms.
Cabinet ministers are appointed by the president. Ministries manage broad areas, such as economic affairs, foreign affairs, defense, education, agriculture, information, and religious affairs. The number of ministers and the nature of their areas of assignment depend on the president. In addition to appointing the cabinet, the president is the supreme commander of the army, the navy, and the air force. The president also has the authority to introduce bills, issue regulations, implement acts, and make agreements with foreign countries.
The MPR constitutes the legislative branch of Indonesia’s government; it is primarily responsible for interpreting the constitution and the broad lines of state policy. Formerly unicameral, the MPR has been a bicameral body since the elections of 2004, with the Council of the People’s Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat; DPR) as the lower house and the Council of Regional Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah; DPD) as the upper house. About four-fifths of the MPR’s seats belong to the lower house. Members of the DPD are elected directly from a nationwide pool of nonpartisan candidates, and members of the DPR are directly elected through a province-based proportional system that allows voters to cast ballots for individuals as well as particular parties. All legislators serve five-year terms.
- Local government
Indonesia is divided into some 30 propinsi, or provinsi (provinces), plus the two daerah istimewa (special districts) of Yogyakarta in central Java and Aceh in northern Sumatra and the daerah khusus ibukota (special capital district) of metropolitan Jakarta, known as Jakarta Raya. On the smaller islands, most administrative regions were created to coincide with traditional regions, the boundaries of which were defined largely by natural geographic features; on the larger islands, by contrast, administrative boundaries were constructed to simplify complex traditional and cultural divisions. The province of Central Java (Jawa Tengah), for instance, spans not only the core of the island of Java but also the core of Javanese culture. Within the province’s borders lie the semiautonomous special district of Yogyakarta and the city of Surakarta (Solo), both of which are historical court centres that maintain traditional rulers (albeit without real political power). Similarly, the provinces of West Java (Jawa Barat) and Banten, on the western part of the island, coincide with the geographic, cultural, and linguistic terrain of the Sundanese people.
The number of first-order political subdivisions has changed since the end of the 20th century. East Timor (declared a province in 1976) gained its independence in 1999. In addition, largely as a result of the push to decentralize in the early 21st century, several new provinces were created out of the existing structure. The province of Banten (2000) was formed from the western tip of West Java. West Papua (Papua Barat; 2006) was created from the western end of Papua. New provinces in Celebes included Gorontalo (2000; government installed in 2001) on the northern peninsula and West Sulawesi (Sulawesi Barat; 2004) in the island’s west-central coastal region. The Riau Islands (Kepulauan Riau; 2002; government installed in 2004) and Bangka Belitung (2000; government installed in 2001) were created from islands off Sumatra’s eastern shore.
Each of the more than 300 second-order subdivisions, kabupaten (regencies), is headed by a bupati (governor) and has a local legislature. More than 5,000 third-order divisions, kecamatan (districts), and several dozen kota (cities) have obtained autonomous status. Since 1999 district and city leaders have been chosen through direct local elections. Members of the Local Councils of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah), which deal more directly with the national legislature, also are selected through general election.
Villages (kampung) and groups of villages (desa), which exist in both rural and urban areas, provide the link between the people and the central government on the district level. Kampung and desa heads are usually elected in rural areas and appointed in urban ones; they are all local government employees. Normally, a village has two levels of neighbourhood organization, a rukun warga (RW; community association) and rukun tetangga (RT; neighbourhood associations). These bodies elect their chairpersons.
In Indonesia’s judicial system the Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung) in Jakarta is the final court of appeal; high courts, which are located in principal cities, deal with appeals from district courts. Supreme Court judges are chosen by the president, who selects from nominees presented by the Judicial Commission, a special body whose members are appointed by the upper house. The chief justice and his or her deputies are chosen from among the Supreme Court justices by the justices themselves. According to the original 1945 constitution, the Supreme Court does not have the power of judicial review. In 2003, however, the Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi) was established to review and to rule on cases involving charges against the president. Judges are members of the civil service and are managed by the Supreme Court, but they also are supervised by the Judicial Commission. The National Ombudsman Commission, established in 2000, deals with offenses committed by the state.
Under the colonial administration, the law was a mixture of Dutch law and local customary law—adat. Since independence, criminal law has been codified for all of Indonesia. Civil law, however, has continued to be based largely on adat, which varies from one region and ethnic group to another. There are four judicial spheres (for general, religious, military, and administrative matters), each with its own courts. The religious, military, and administrative courts deal with special cases or particular groups of people, while the general courts handle both civil and criminal cases. Muslims may choose to use Islamic law in some civil cases; since the mid-1970s religious law has applied to all civil matters dealing with marriage.
- Political process
Indonesia’s political process is shaped by the country’s turbulent political history. The first election after independence was held in 1955. Almost 170 political parties and factions contested, and 4 major parties obtained the majority of the votes. The election was carried out with little disturbance, but the resulting government was beset by unforeseen political problems. Sukarno—Indonesia’s first national figure and first president—dissolved the elected assembly, introduced a concept known as Guided Democracy, and reinstated the 1945 constitution in 1959. The period of Guided Democracy was marked by the creation of a plethora of ministries, by the rise of the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia; PKI) to a position of political dominance, and by the emergence of the army as a major anticommunist political force. The structure collapsed with an attempted coup d’état in 1965, which led to the downfall of Sukarno. Under Suharto, Sukarno’s successor, Indonesia entered a new political era, officially called the New Order.
After a period of stabilization and restructuring, in which the army played a major role, the second election of the DPR was held in 1971. Contesting this election were nine political parties and the Joint Secretariat of Functional Groups (Sekretariat Bersama Golongan Karya; Sekber Golkar, or Golkar), a government-sponsored organization of nonaffiliated groups—including nonparty associations of farmers, fishermen, civil servants, cooperatives, religious groups, students, the armed forces, and veterans—that was allowed to participate in the electoral process on the same level as political parties. Backed by the power of the military, the bureaucracy, and a large budget, Golkar came out of the poll as a single majority. (Golkar went on to win every subsequent election until 1999, when for the first time in Indonesian history an independently monitored election took place.)
In the early years of the Suharto presidency the political process was directed primarily by the government; as the New Order matured, however, power came to rest almost exclusively in the person of the president. After the 1971 election, the existing political parties were consolidated to form two officially recognized parties, the United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan; PPP) and the Indonesian Democratic Party (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia; PDI). Technically, these parties were to base their political platforms on the national ideology of Pancasila (Five Principles)—belief in one god, nationalism, democracy, humanitarianism, and social justice—also upheld by Golkar. Unlike Golkar, however, the political parties were prohibited from establishing chapters at the grassroots level.
The end of the New Order and of the Suharto presidency in 1998 triggered a major transformation in Indonesia’s political process. New election laws allowed for independent monitoring of elections; restrictions on the creation of political parties were lifted at all levels; members of the bureaucracy were permitted to choose a party other than Golkar; and the military was forbidden from siding with any one political group. The 1999 election was both euphoric and peaceful, with the PDI (now adding “Perjuangan” [“Struggle”] to its name to become the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle; PDIP), Golkar, and the National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa; PKB) emerging as the top parties, with no single majority. These three parties have remained strong, although since the end of the 20th century several others have gained popularity alongside them. Among these are the Democratic Party (Partai Demokrat; PD), which became the presidential party in 2004, the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional; PAN), and the Justice and Prosperity Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera; PKS).
The election law states that all citizens who have reached the minimum age of 17 or who have married may vote in general elections. All those who have reached age 21 may stand for elections. Elections are direct and voting is by secret ballot.
The Indonesian armed forces were founded shortly after the country’s declaration of independence in August 1945. The original forces were made up of soldiers who had been trained by the Dutch and Japanese armies as well as the armed militia groups that had fought a guerrilla war to wrest Indonesia permanently from Dutch control. Under the Sukarno and Suharto presidencies, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia (Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia; ABRI) comprised the army, the navy, the air force, and the police.
Following the Suharto presidency, the armed forces returned to one of their pre-Sukarno names, the National Army of Indonesia (Tentara Nasional Indonesia; TNI), and the police were split into a separate unit. The army, constituting more than three-fourths of the forces, has remained the largest segment of the TNI. Men must be at least 18 years old to join the armed forces; selective compulsory service requires a commitment of two years.
The political role of the armed forces increased significantly in the second half of the 20th century, with the ABRI, and later the TNI, justifying their political involvement by citing the so-called dwi-fungsi (dual function) doctrine. This doctrine declared it both the right and the duty of the military to take part in most political decision-making processes in Indonesia.
As the political power of the military grew, however, the allocation of state funds for defense development declined. The government’s rationale in cutting its military spending was to promote peaceful relations with neighbouring countries; it meant to establish territorial control through political intervention, with the aid of a powerful intelligence network, rather than through the use of force.
Its small budget ultimately forced the TNI to find other sources of income. Widespread corruption ensued as the military abused its associations with foundations and government firms. Finally, the TNI was removed from the political process with the reformation of the MPR in 2004: all seats in the legislature that were once reserved for the military were eliminated.
- Health and welfare
Indonesia has a national health care network that offers treatment either free of charge or for a nominal cost through several types of medical facilities. District medical centres, the most comprehensive of which combine general medical clinics with maternal and child-health centres, provide services in family planning, school health, nutrition, communicable-disease control, health statistics, environmental health, health education, dental health, and public-health nursing. The district centres also supervise the community and village health centres (puskesmas), which are the primary health providers in rural areas. A third type of public medical facility is the posyandu, an integrated health-service post that is designed to serve those whose health is most at risk. These posts are more widely available than the village health centres and offer a variety of services to women and children in particular, ranging from immunizations and nutrition counseling to family planning.
In general, the cost of specialized health care, as provided by private hospitals and doctors, is beyond the reach of Indonesians in both the low- and middle-income groups. A government-sponsored health insurance system for specialized care was introduced in the late 20th century, but has been slow to cover people working in small private companies or in the informal sector. Many companies provide medical assistance to employees, but there is no legal requirement to do so.
Most of the major communicable diseases in Indonesia are well under control. Malaria and tuberculosis are no longer persistent health problems, but outbreaks of dengue and cholera still occur. Heart problems and strokes have become more common, owing at least in part to changes in diet that have accompanied economic growth since the 1970s. Cancer also has become more widespread. Drug addiction has increased notably, particularly among young people in the urban centres, and there has been a sharp rise in HIV infection and cases of AIDS, especially since the end of the 20th century.
One of the most serious public health problems is the shortage of medical and paramedical personnel, mainly nurses and midwives. Although all new graduates of the government’s medical schools are required to work for one year in rural areas, few doctors choose to stay in such regions after fulfilling their service obligation. Outside the major urban centres, many people use traditional healers, called dukun. An indigenous midwife (paraji or dukun beranak), often with limited training, assists many of the births in Indonesia; extensive training programs have been implemented to bring the paraji toward the standards of qualified midwives. Such programs contributed to a significant drop in the infant mortality rate—from well above to well below the world average—from the mid-20th to the early 21st century.
Another important public health issue, family planning (keluarga berancana; commonly called “KB”), conceptually runs counter to traditional views, and there was much resistance to such programs when they were introduced. A massive attempt has been made to provide information on family planning to women of childbearing age, typically through clinics that are run by the Department of Health. This program has achieved considerable success, particularly in Java and Bali, and has come to be considered a model in Asia.
In rural areas the floors of dwellings consist of pounded earth, concrete, or raised wood, while wooden framing supports walls of woven bamboo matting; the roofs are of dried palm fibre, tiles, or wood. In urban areas floors are of cement or tile, the framing of the dwellings is of teak or meranti wood, the walls are of brick and plaster, and the roofs are of tile or shingle.
Although most of the population is nonurban, the major housing problems are in the cities. In their desire to escape the restraints of the traditional rural life and seek the opportunities of the cities, most rural-to-urban migrants tolerate living conditions that are less attractive than those of the country.
The larger cities, such as Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, are the ones with the greatest housing problems. While there has been tremendous suburban housing development, pitched primarily to new members of the middle class, the urban areas themselves lack satisfactory housing, as well as a dependable supply of water and adequate school and health facilities. Pockets of substandard temporary housing in densely populated lower-income urban areas have become permanent settlements, blending with established neighbourhoods. Such lower-income settlements, called kampung in the manner of their rural counterparts, typically consist of a cluster of small brick houses that procure their own water and often tap electricity illegally from the power supply of the national electric company. Subsidized housing is provided by some employers, including government ministries, for a limited number of employees.
Before the country’s independence, educational opportunities for Indonesians were limited even on the primary and secondary levels. The Dutch colonial government did not provide university-level education to most Indonesians. Only a select few received their degrees in the Netherlands. Although a postsecondary technical school—now the Bandung Institute of Technology—was established in 1920, student enrollment was extremely limited. Since independence, however, the government has placed great emphasis on primary, secondary, and higher education for all people. By the early 21st century the great majority of Indonesians were literate.
Responsibility for education is centred in the Department of National Education, but other government bodies, especially the Department of Religious Affairs, also administer extensive educational programs. The national educational system involves six years of primary education, beginning at age seven, followed by six years of secondary education, which are divided into two three-year blocks. Since the early 1990s the first nine years have been compulsory. Although the economic crisis of the late 1990s prevented many children from furthering their formal studies, Indonesians are generally inclined to allocate a high percentage of their family budget for education, since schooling has become a reliable path to improved socioeconomic standing.
Higher education includes dozens of public institutions and thousands of private postsecondary schools, with the private institutions expanding most rapidly since the 1970s. Enrollment is about evenly distributed between men and women. Major universities include the Bogor Agricultural University, the Bandung Institute of Technology, the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Hasanuddin University in Makassar (Ujungpandang), and Airlangga University in Surabaya. While a number of universities offer postgraduate education, many students go abroad—especially to North America, Europe, and Australia—to pursue doctoral degrees.
Culture Life of Indonesia
Indonesia exhibits a rich diversity of cultural practices and products. The remote interior regions of Sumatra, Kalimantan, and western New Guinea feature ritualized speech and local epic narrative traditions, while in Java and Bali the visual and performing arts are heavily influenced by the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. In the cities, the mellifluous calls to prayer radiating from mosques, many of which display a markedly Muslim architectural style, coexist with the flashing lights and vibrant sounds of urban popular culture. These are just a few examples of Indonesia’s truly complex heritage.
Borobudur [Credit: Brian Brake—Rapho/Photo Researchers]The aura of long-gone Hindu-Buddhist empires lingers in many parts of Indonesia, particularly in Java, Sumatra, and Bali. From the 8th through the 10th century ce, extensive temple complexes (candi) were built in central Java. Most of these were buried or in ruins, but the government has actively engaged in their restoration. The remains of the first of the great central Javanese monuments, the Shaivite temple of the Diyeng (Dieng) Plateau, date to the early 8th century. The Shailendra dynasty, which ruled Java and Sumatra (8th–9th centuries), built the great Mahayana Buddhist monuments, including that of Borobudur. Late in the 9th century the kings of Mataram built the Hindu monuments around Prambanan. Commonly called Prambanan Temple, the complex consists of six main temples; the three large ones along the west, dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, contain fine statues. Of the three smaller temples along the east, the middle one contains a statue of Nandi, the bull of Shiva. The main temples are heavily ornamented with stone carvings of the gods and other heavenly beings, and there is a series of relief panels depicting the Ramayana.
Borobudur, Indonesia [Credit: © Ramon Abasolo/Fotolia]Borobudur, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991, is one of the finest Buddhist monuments in the world. It stands on a hill about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Yogyakarta and rises to a height of approximately 115 feet (35 metres) from its square base, which measures 403 feet (123 metres) on each side. The monument consists of a lower structure of six square terraces (including its base) and an upper structure of three circular terraces, combining the ancient symbols of the circle for the heavens and the square for the earth. In the centre of each side of the square terraces is a staircase leading to the next level. The inner wall on each level has niches containing statues of Buddha. Bas-reliefs covering the inner walls and the balustrades depict stories from Buddhist teachings; many of the images symbolize phases of human life, moving from the sensual stage at the lower level to the spiritual stage at the top. The circular terraces are not decorated but contain 72 bell-shaped stupas, each housing a statue of Buddha. In the centre of the upper terrace is the main stupa, which stands 23 feet (7 metres) high. It contains no statues, other visual images, or relics of any kind.
Between the 10th and 16th centuries, the centre of power in the archipelago shifted to eastern Java, and Buddhism merged with Hinduism, which later gave way to Islam. Literature in old Javanese (kawi) flourished during this period, and a number of large temple complexes were constructed, none of which, however, approached the grandeur of Borobudur or Prambanan. The most imposing complex is Panataran Temple near Blitar, which was constructed at the peak of the Majapahit empire in the 14th century. With the ascendancy of Islam through the 15th and 16th centuries, the temples fell into ruins, and Hindu culture shifted to Bali, where it remains today.
Indonesia possesses a wealth of verbal art. Much of this material, such as the didong poetry of Aceh or the tekena’ epic tales of the Kenyah of East Kalimantan, is transmitted through oral-traditional performance, as opposed to printed text. A largely nonwritten tradition of reciting expressive, often witty quatrains called pantun is common in most Malay areas throughout the archipelago. Some pantun performances are narrative; the kentrung traditions of central and eastern Java, for instance, use pantun structure to recount religious or local historical tales to the accompaniment of a drum. In central Java macapat, a metric and melodic form, is used to present tales from ancient Hindu-Javanese literature as well as stories, images, and ideas from local sources; the songs may be performed solo or with instrumental accompaniment. Indeed, much of Indonesia’s traditional literature forms the foundation of complex mixed-genre performances, such as the randai of the Minangkabau of western Sumatra, which blends instrumental music, dance, drama, and martial arts in ceremonial settings.
Contemporary Indonesian literature was initiated in the early 1930s by a small group of young writers, who created the journal Poedjangga Baroe (“The New Writer”). Published in the Indonesian language, as opposed to Dutch, this literary periodical was devoted to disseminating new ideas and expressions that ran counter to the type of writing sanctioned by the colonial government. Under the intellectual leadership of S. Takdir Alisjahbana, a poet, novelist, and philosopher, the contributors to Poedjangga Baroe were committed to the nationalist cause—to the establishment of a new, modern Indonesia, free from the constraints of local patterns of cultural expression.
The true modernist temper, however, emerged in the works of Indonesian poets of the early 1940s, with Chairil Anwar as the leading figure. Although he died young, Chairil transformed the Indonesian literary scene through the intense imagery of his poetry and through his rebellious stance toward religion and social convention.
The growth of Indonesian literature suffered some setbacks in the second half of the 20th century under the Sukarno and Suharto regimes, both of which imposed restrictions on literary activity. Some writers, such as the internationally recognized novelist and journalist Mochtar Lubis, were jailed for their nonconformity to governmental ideals and policies. A cinematic work based on a novel by Alisjahbana was prohibited; Alisjahbana later left the country to live in Malaysia. Especially during the first half of the Suharto administration, politically liberal writers were imprisoned; the renowned novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer was detained for more than a decade.
Despite some tumultuous moments in its history, Indonesian literature has remained vibrant. Literary groups in the larger cities often publish local poetic works. Jakarta produces two of the most prestigious journals of letters and ideas: Horison (“Horizon”), published since 1966, and Kalam (“The Word”), published since 1994.
- THEATRE AND DANCE
Bali: girls performing a choreographed group dance [Credit: Paul Chesley—Stone/Getty Images]Most of Indonesia’s oldest theatre forms are linked directly to local literary traditions (oral and written). The prominent puppet theatres—wayang golek (wooden rod-puppet play) of the Sundanese and wayang kulit (leather shadow-puppet play) of the Javanese and Balinese—draw much of their repertoire from indigenized versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. These tales also provide source material for the wayang wong (human theatre) of Java and Bali, which uses actors. Some wayang golek performances, however, also present Muslim stories, called menak.
In puppet performances the narrator (dalang) is also the puppeteer and the principal artist of the show. To animate the characters, the dalang uses an array of vocal qualities and speech styles, from the most refined and lyrical to the most coarse and colloquial. An evening of wayang golek or wayang kulit is inevitably a mixture of poetic elegance and base humour. Javanese and Sundanese performances normally last all night, starting about 8:00 pm and ending near dawn. Balinese performances are usually shorter.
Playwrights trained in the Western tradition have worked to broaden Indonesians’ experience with theatre. In the 1960s the company of Willibrordus Rendra was instrumental in inaugurating a stream of innovative, modernist, and controversial theatre performances that were based to a large extent on Western models. Much of Rendra’s work involved the adaptation for Indonesian audiences of works by Western playwrights such as Sophocles, William Shakespeare, Federico García Lorca, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett.
Balinese dancing [Credit: Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz]Some theatrical traditions incorporate dance to such an extent that they are typically termed “dance-dramas.” Of these traditions, the wayang wong and wayang topeng (masked theatre) of Java and Bali, as well as the Balinese plays recounting the tale of the witch Calonarang, are among the most widely known. Since independence, Indonesian choreographers trained at the country’s performing arts academies have been well versed in Western classical ballet and modern dance, in addition to local styles. Consequently, some have adapted local dance-dramatic works for contemporary audiences. The sendratari, for example, is essentially an updated form of traditional dance-drama that combines elements of local theatrical genres (including puppet theatre) with movements, staging, and costumes derived from contemporary styles; in Java, the form is associated with the Prambanan Temple.
Kenyah: Kenyah men’s solo dance [Credit: © Gini Gorlinski]Apart from its crucial role in dance-dramas, Indonesian dance serves many diverse functions, from the ritual to the purely recreational. Performances may be subtle and stylized like the female court genres of pakarena in southern Celebes and srimpi in central Java, graceful yet masculine like the seudati of Aceh and the kancet laki of the Kenyah of eastern Kalimantan, or demonstrative, dynamic, and interactive like the Balinese jangger, which is performed by a mixed group of men and women. The vigorous silat (martial arts) traditions, for which the Minangkabau of western Sumatra and the Sundanese of western Java are renowned, also embody an element of dance, in that they are performed to a particular type of music and use conventional movements and choreographies.
gamelan [Credit: Courtesy of the Indonesian Tourist Board]Puppet theatre, dance-drama, and some nondance theatrical performances are typically accompanied in Java and Bali by a gamelan, a metallic percussion ensemble consisting mainly of gongs, metallophones, xylophones, and drums. Some ensembles also include one or more flutes, zithers, bowed lutes, and vocalists. When present, one or two kendang (drums) lead the ensemble, giving cues and tempi to the musicians, while also articulating the movements of the puppets or dancers. Female singers, in Java called pesinden, sit among the musicians and create the mood for different parts of the narrative. Male singers typically form a chorus called gerong. In all-night performances, the pesinden usually banter with the puppeteer during the comic interlude around midnight; the audience also may request particular musical pieces at that time.
Kenyah: Kenyah boys playing the jatung utang [Credit: © Gini Gorlinski]Although performances of the metallic gamelan ensembles of Java and Bali are the most nationally and internationally prominent of Indonesia’s musical traditions, a great variety of other traditions are found throughout the archipelago. While some of these traditions are, like the gamelan, gong-based, others are centred on stringed instruments, wooden or bamboo wind instruments, or drums, xylophones, or other nonmetallic percussion instruments. For instance, a matrix of related plucked lute traditions—most known by a term similar to sampé’ or kacapi—stretches from Sumatra through Kalimantan to Celebes. The Toba Batak people of Sumatra are known for their tuned drum ensembles, gondang. In eastern Kalimantan, xylophone-based dance music is a favorite among Kenyah communities.
Many well-established musical traditions of Indonesia incorporate instrumental and vocal elements from international sources. The gamelan ensemble accompanying a wayang kulit performance may use horns to signal the battle scene. The Batak in northern Sumatra and the Ambonese in the Moluccas, both widely recognized for their vocal virtuosity, use the guitar to accompany most of their singing. Kroncong music, which flourished during the colonial era and retained its popularity following independence, was a product of the confluence of western European (particularly Portuguese) and Indonesian cultures; while the guitar and other Western string instruments constituted the core of kroncong, the manner in which these instruments were played was reminiscent of gamelan music.
Contemporary Indonesian popular music, consumed mostly (but not entirely) by the young, has made kroncong a thing of the past. Dangdut, a synthesis of Indian film music, a type of Sumatran Malay music called orkes Melayu (Malay orchestra), kroncong, and Euro-American popular music, was pioneered in the 1970s primarily by the former rock-and-roll musician Rhoma Irama. The style has continued to develop and has retained a broad following not only in Indonesia but also in Malaysia. As a type of recreational dance music, dangdut animates city pubs and various rural festivities across the country.
- ISUAL ARTS
carving: column, East Kalimantan, Indonesia [Credit: © Gini Gorlinski]Encompassing sculpture and carving, painting, textile design, beadwork, basketry, and other forms, the visual arts of Indonesia are as abundant as they are diverse. Some of these forms have been shaped by ancient cultures of Asia, including those of late Zhou dynasty China (12th–3rd centuries bce) and of Dong Son Indochina (3rd century bce). Others have drawn influences from more-recent cultural contacts. Such interaction, combined with local artistic and aesthetic sensibilities, has produced a spectrum of styles that are unique to the various peoples and regions of the country.
wayang kulit [Credit: Courtesy of the Puppentheatermuseum, Munich]Carving and painting are among the best known of Indonesia’s visual art traditions. Bali long has been of special interest culturally because it has maintained Hindu traditions for centuries within a predominantly Muslim environment. Carvings are visible at nearly every turn; images depicting natural and supernatural entities from Hindu and indigenous traditions adorn temple entrances, animate masked-dance and puppet performances, overlook the grounds of offices and homes, and populate the shelves and walls of galleries in the towns and cities. In Java the leather puppets for wayang kulit performances are fastidiously carved and painted so as to cast a lightly tinted, lacelike shadow when held against an illuminated screen. In the Dayak villages of Kalimantan some of the important structures are elaborately and colourfully decorated with dense patterns of intertwined curls. Since the late 20th century, the carved wooden shields, statues, paddles, and drums of the Asmat people in the interior of western New Guinea have gained international recognition.
textile: Javanese batik [Credit: Courtesy of the Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam]Indonesia also has an especially rich and varied tradition of textile design. Batik making, practiced almost exclusively on Java, involves a complex wax-resistance process in which all parts of a cloth that are not to be dyed are coated on both sides with wax before the cloth is dipped into the dye. Using a penlike wax holder called a canting, it is possible to create intricate designs. It is a time-consuming process, and batik fabrics that are patterned entirely by hand take several weeks to complete. To speed up the process and lower the cost, a copper stamp (cap) may be used in lieu of the canting to apply the wax. Large-scale production of such stamped batik has become an economically viable business.
On woven fabric, which is made everywhere from Sumatra through the eastern islands, the most characteristic element is the key-shaped figure combined with other geometric figures. The rhombus (an equilateral parallelogram usually having oblique angles) frequently occurs together with straight lines, equilateral triangles, squares, or circles, which permit an enormous number of variations, including stylized representations of human beings and animals. Each island or region has its characteristic patterns, which serve to identify the area in which the cloth is made.
ikat: cloth from Sumba Timur [Credit: Holle Bildarchiv, Baden-Baden]The art of weaving is highly developed. It includes the famous ikat method, in which the thread is dyed selectively before weaving by binding fibres around groups of threads so that they will not take up colour when the thread is dipped in the dyebath. This process may be applied to the warp (foundation threads running lengthwise), which is most common and is found in Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sumba. Weft (threads running widthwise) ikat is found mainly in south Sumatra, and the complex process of double ikat is still carried on in Tenganan in Bali, where such cloth has great ceremonial significance.
Although the arts of Indonesia are not—and likely cannot be—documented and preserved exhaustively, a number of museums house notable collections. The Indonesian National Museum in Jakarta not only possesses collections of prehistoric and contemporary arts and artifacts from Indonesia, including textiles, stamps, sculptures, bronzework, and maps, but also contains a major collection of ancient Chinese ceramics. The Wayang Museum, also in Jakarta, contains important collections that chronicle the history and development of the country’s traditions of puppet theatre. Other museums documenting regional culture have been established in major cities (often the provincial capitals) throughout the country.
The Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park (Taman Mini Indonesia Indah; “Taman Mini”), in Jakarta, is a “living museum” that highlights the current diversity of Indonesia’s peoples and lifestyles. The park contains furnished and decorated replicas of houses of various ethnic groups in Indonesia; each of these structures is staffed with appropriately costumed “inhabitants.” Completed in 1975, Taman Mini was one of the first such institutions in the region; in subsequent decades similar museums were established in other parts of Indonesia, as well as in other countries of Asia.
An important arts venue in Jakarta, established by the municipal government in 1968, is Ismail Marzuki Park (Taman Ismail Marzuki; TIM), named after a prominent Jakarta-born composer. The centre has generated a fresh approach to both tradition and modernism. While offering regular performances of local and regional arts, TIM also produces modernist theatrical works that typically fuse Indonesian and international idioms. In 1987 the Indonesian government completed the renovation of colonial Schouwburg Weltevreden (1821) theatre to become the Jakarta Arts Building (Gedung Kesenian Jakarta); this institution also hosts major musical and theatrical productions from across the globe. Both institutions sponsor an array of international festivals featuring music, dance, film, spoken word, and other arts.
Sports and recreation
Football (soccer) is among the most popular team sports in Indonesia. Open fields with two goals are common sights across the country, and even in big cities children and other football enthusiasts find space to play. Indonesia has won medals at several Southeast Asian Games.
Madura: bull racing [Credit: © Wolfgang Kaehler]Many of the traditional sports of the archipelago are forms of martial arts. Pencak silat, which is especially popular on Java and West Sumatra, features weapons, such as knives and sticks. In the Tana Toraja region of South Sulawesi, sisemba is a handless form of combat, in which battlers attempt to kick their opponent into submission. Most spectator sports centre around gambling, and cockfighting is common on Bali and Kalimantan. Madura is known for its bull racing.
Susanti, Susi [Credit: ALLSPORT UK/John Gichigi]Indonesia formed an Olympic committee in 1946 and debuted at the 1952 Games in Helsinki. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the country won its first medal, a silver in archery. Badminton, the national passion of Indonesia, was introduced as an Olympic sport at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, and the country dominated the events, capturing five medals, including two golds. The gold medals were won by Alan Budi Kusuma and Susi Susanti.
Media and publishing
Dozens of daily newspapers circulate in Indonesia, primarily in Java and Sumatra. Most are published in Indonesian, but there are also a few in the English language. Among the dailies with the widest readership are Pos Kota (“The City Post”), out of Jakarta, Suara Merdeka (“Voice of Freedom”), out of Semarang, and Sinar Indonesia Baru (“Ray of a New Indonesia”), out of Medan. Since the relaxation of government regulations at the end of the 20th century, most major Indonesian newspapers have been accessible through the Internet. The government publishing house, Balai Pustaka, is in Jakarta; numerous private publishers also operate in Jakarta, as well as in other large cities, mainly on Java.
Broadcasting is regulated by the Directorate-General of Radio, Television, and Film in Jakarta. Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) and Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI), the country’s largest radio and television networks, were government-owned until 2000, when they were passed into public hands. Private television stations have been permitted to operate since the late 20th century, and their number has grown rapidly.
History of Indonesia
Early History and Colonial Rule
Early in the Christian era, Indonesia came under the influence of Indian civilization through the gradual influx of Indian traders and Buddhist and Hindu monks. By the 7th and 8th cent., kingdoms closely connected with India had developed in Sumatra and Java; the spectacular Buddhist temples of Borobudur date from this period. Sumatra was the seat (7th–13th cent.) of the important Buddhist kingdom of Sri Vijaya. In the late 13th cent. the center of power shifted to Java, where the fabulous Hindu kingdom of Majapahit had arisen; for two centuries it held sway over Indonesia and large areas of the Malay Peninsula. A gradual infiltration of Islam began in the 14th and 15th cent. with the arrival of Arab traders, and by the end of the 16th cent. Islam had replaced Buddhism and Hinduism as the dominant religion. The once-powerful kingdoms broke into smaller Islamic states whose internecine strife made them vulnerable to European imperialism.
Early in the 16th cent. the Portuguese, in pursuit of the rich spice trade, began establishing trading posts in Indonesia, after taking (1511) the strategic commercial center of Malacca (see Melaka) on the Malay Peninsula. The Dutch followed in 1596 and the English in 1600. By 1610 the Dutch had ousted the Portuguese, who were allowed to retain only the eastern part of Timor, but the English competition remained strong, and it was only after a series of Anglo-Dutch conflicts (1610–23) that the Dutch emerged as the dominant power in Indonesia.
Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th cent. the Dutch East India Company steadily expanded its control over the entire area. When the company was liquidated in 1799, the Dutch government assumed its holdings, which were thereafter known in English as the Netherlands (or Dutch) East Indies. Dutch rule was briefly broken (1811–14) during the Napoleonic Wars when the islands were occupied by the British under T. Stamford Raffles. The Dutch exploited the riches of the islands throughout the 19th cent., but their rule did not go unchallenged by the Indonesians. In 1825, Prince Diponegoro of Java launched a long and bloody guerrilla war against the colonists, and in 1906 and again in 1908 the native rulers of Bali led their subjects in suicidal charges against Dutch fortifications.
- Nationalism, Independence, and Sukarno
The Indonesian movement for independence began early in the 20th cent. The Indonesian Communist party (PKI) was founded in 1920; in 1927 the Indonesian Nationalist party (PNI) arose under the leadership of Sukarno. It received its impetus during World War II, when the Japanese drove out (1942) the Dutch and occupied the islands. In Aug., 1945, immediately after the Japanese surrender, Sukarno and Muhammad Hatta, another nationalist leader, proclaimed Indonesia an independent republic. The Dutch bitterly resisted the nationalists, and four years of intermittent and sometimes heavy fighting followed. Under UN pressure, an agreement was finally reached (Nov., 1949) for the creation of an independent republic of Indonesia. A new constitution provided for a parliamentary form of government. Sukarno was elected president, and Hatta became premier.
Although Sukarno had achieved a major accomplishment in uniting so many diverse peoples and regions under one government and one language, his administration was marked by inefficiency, injustice, corruption, and chaos. The rapid expropriation of Dutch property and the ousting of Dutch citizens (late 1950s) severely dislocated the economy; the country's great wealth was not exploited, and soaring inflation and great economic hardship ensued. A popular revolt, stemming from a desire for greater autonomy, began on Sumatra early in 1958 and spread to Sulawesi and other islands; the disorders led to increasingly authoritarian rule by Sukarno, who dissolved (1960) the parliament and reinstated the constitution of 1945, which had provided for a strong, independent executive (Hatta had resigned in 1956 following a conflict with Sukarno). The army, whose influence was strengthened by its role in quickly quelling the revolts, and the Communist party, whose ranks were growing very rapidly, constituted two important power blocs in Indonesian politics, with Sukarno holding the balance of power between the two.
In early 1962, Sukarno dispatched paratroopers to Netherlands New Guinea—territory claimed by Indonesia but firmly held by the Dutch—forcing the Dutch to agree to transfer that area to the United Nations with the understanding that it would pass under Indonesian administration in May, 1963, pending a referendum that was to be held by 1970. After the referendum, in Aug., 1969, Netherlands New Guinea was formally annexed by Indonesia, and its name was changed to West Irian (Irian Barat), then Irian Jaya, and later Papua. A guerrilla war was begun soon after by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM; Free Papua Movement), a group seeking Papua's independence.
Meanwhile, Sukarno made (1963) a major propaganda issue of Indonesian opposition to the newly created Federation of Malaysia and staged guerrilla raids into Malaysian territory on Borneo, beginning a conflict that was waged intermittently for three years. Sukarno began to lean increasingly toward the left, openly summoning Communist leaders for advice, exhibiting hostility toward the United States, and cultivating the friendship of Communist China. In 1965 he withdrew Indonesia from the United Nations. He may have known in advance of the abortive army coup that began in Sept., 1965, with the assassination of six high army officials.
- The Suharto Regime
The coup was swiftly thwarted by army forces under General Suharto, who blamed the coup on the PKI (the degree of its involvement is unclear); Suharto may have known of the plot in advance. Suharto gradually assumed power (although retaining Sukarno as symbolic leader). Thousands of alleged Communists were executed; people everywhere took the law into their own hands and a widespread massacre ensued (Oct.–Dec., 1965). Estimates of the number of people killed range from 500,000 to 1 million; many ethnic Chinese died, and in E and central Java and in Bali entire villages were wiped out. In 2012 Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights called the events a gross violation of human rights.
The new government steadily increased its power, aided by massive student demonstrations against Sukarno. General Suharto brought an end (1966) to hostilities against Malaysia, banned the PKI, reestablished close ties with the United States, and reentered (1966) the United Nations. Indonesia became one of the founding countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. On Mar. 12, 1967, the national assembly voted Sukarno out of power altogether and named General Suharto acting president.
Suharto was elected president in 1968, and reelected in 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, and 1998. His government reinstated an earlier Dutch colonial policy of "transmigration," in which farmers from the overpopulated islands of Java and Bali were moved to underpopulated areas such as Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Indonesian New Guinea. The policy has had mixed results; though more than six million had moved by the 1990s, Java and Bali continue to be heavily populated. The economy began to grow rapidly in the 1970s, due mainly to expanded oil, gas, and timber exports; in the 1980s and 90s manufacturing for export became important.
In 1975–76, Indonesia annexed East Timor (a former Portuguese colony), and incorporated it as a province of the country; the takeover was not recognized by the United Nations. Following the annexation, separatists in the largely Roman Catholic province resisted Indonesian control, suffering substantial loss of life. Indonesia came under increasing criticism from the United States and international organizations for human-rights abuses in the area.
During Suharto's regime, his family held sway over much of Indonesia's economic life, and government corruption increased. While the economic conditions of many Indonesians improved, opposition to his policies continued to be suppressed. In Oct., 1997, the country was plunged into economic upheaval when its currency plummeted. The stock market followed soon after, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to provide the country with a $40 billion aid package in exchange for economic reforms. Struggling under a huge foreign debt and Suharto's reluctance to implement the IMF reforms, Indonesia's economy continued to worsen in 1998. Student protests and riots over rising prices broke out across the country, with increasing demands for Suharto to resign. Suharto stepped down in May, 1998, and his vice president, B. J. Habibie, assumed the presidency, pledging reform, clean government, and economic responsibility. In June, the government reached an agreement with foreign bankers on the rescheduling of nearly $80 billion in debt.
Early in 1999, Indonesia and Portugal reached an agreement permitting the people of East Timor to choose between limited autonomy within Indonesia and independence in a referendum. Fighting in East Timor between government security forces and anti-independence militias on one side and separatist guerrillas on the other increased in mid-1999 as the vote approached. In August, voters chose independence, but the territory descended into chaos as pro-Indonesian militias and the army engaged in a campaign of terror and brutality, killing proindependence Timorese and causing thousands to flee their homes. In Sept., 1999, after intense international pressure, President Habibie asked the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to the area, and in October the United Nations agreed to take full control of East Timor until independence, which was achieved in 2002. Even as the situation in East Timor quieted down, however, calls for independence rose in other provinces, particularly Aceh, in N Sumatra, and Papua.
Meanwhile, in the June, 1999, parliamentary elections, the Indonesian Democratic party of Struggle of Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Sukarno, came in first with 34% of the vote; President Habibie's Golkar party came in second, with 22%. In the Oct., 1999, presidential elections, Abdurrahman Wahid, of the National Awakening party, became the country's first democratically elected president after Megawati failed to build the coalition needed to win; she was chosen by parliament as vice president. A Muslim theologian and religious leader, as well as a defender of human rights and religious tolerance, Wahid moved to increase civilian control over the military, which lost influence and prestige following Suharto's fall and the East Timor debacle. He also was forced to deal with often vociferous opposition in parliament. The economy began to revive in 2000, although the currency (rupiah) suffered a sharp loss in value.
In Feb., 2001, the parliament censured the president, who was implicated in two corruption scandals. Wahid, who had alienated Megawati and suffered a drop in popularity, was censured again in April. Although he was subsequently cleared of wrongdoing in the scandals, the parliament voted in July to remove him from office. Megawati succeeded Wahid as president. Subsequently the parliament passed laws granting limited autonomy (including substantial control over natural resources) to Aceh and Papua, in the hope of undercutting local secessionist movements, but violence in both provinces has continued. An agreement was signed with the Aceh rebels in Dec., 2002, raising hopes for peace that were dashed six months later when Indonesia ended what it regarded as fruitless talks and resumed military action.
Relations were strained with Malaysia in 2002 when as many as 400,000 Indonesians were forcibly deported under a tough new anti-illegal-immigrant law. Constitutional amendments passed in the same year called for the direct election of the president and the elimination of the seats reserved for the military in the national legislature. Both amendments took effect in 2004. In Oct., 2002, a terrorist bombing at a night club in Bali that was frequented by foreigners killed more than 200 people. The bombing was apparently by Indonesian Islamic radicals linked to Al Qaeda. Terror bombings continued to be a sporadic problem in subsequent years, though none were as deadly as the Bali night club attack. A proposal in 2003 to split Papua into three provinces sparked new unrest there, and after legals appeals Papua was divided (2004) into Papua and West Irian Jaya (now West Papua).
Legislative elections in Apr., 2004, were a setback for Megawati's party, which came in second to Golkar; the latter won slightly more than a fourth of the seats. Seven parties secured significant blocks of seats. Megawati subsequently lost the presidency (Sept., 2004) to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former general and security minister and the candidate of the Democrat party, after a runoff in Sept., 2004. The election was the first time that Indonesians were able to elect a president directly.
In Dec., 2004, a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake off NW Sumatra devastated Aceh, killing some 167,000 people, and a subsequent earthquake in March, caused much destruction on the islands of Simeulue and Nias, west of Sumatra. There was a polio outbreak in Java in May, 2005, that was linked to the persistence of the disease in W Africa and was believed to have been transmitted to Muslim pilgrims at Mecca. Indonesia began a massive immunization campaign that ultimately brought the outbreak under control. Acehnese rebels signed a peace agreement with the government in Aug., 2005, and subsequently disarmed in exchange for the establishment of local self-government. In May, 2006, an earthquake centered S of Yogyakarta in central Java killed some 5,800 people; a July quake off W Java caused a tsunami that killed some 400 people. Heavy rains caused massive flooding in the Jakarta area in Feb., 2007, forcing as many as 400,000 people from their homes. A series of severe earthquakes in Sept., 2007, caused caused much damage in W Sumatra.
In the parliamentary elections in Apr., 2009, the president's Democratic party won 148 seats; Golkar came in second (108 seats), followed by Megawati's party (93), and six other parties won seats. The July presidential elections were contested by Yudhoyono, Megawati, and, running as Golkar's candidate, Vice President Jusuf Kalla; the president secured a majority, avoiding a runoff election. An earthquake off the coast of W Sumatra in Sept., 2009, caused significant destruction and more than a thousand deaths in Padang and the surrounding area. In Nov., 2009, a scandal concerning attempts by high-ranking law-enforcement officials to damage the reputation of Indonesia's anticorruption agency by bringing false charges against two of its top officials hurt Yudhoyono when he failed to dismiss the law-enforcement officials. Corruption and attacks by Islamic extremists have been significant problems in the early 21st cent.
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