About Indonesia

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Funae fishermen sorting tuna after the catch, Sulawesi, Indonesia
© WWF-Canon / Jürgen FREUND

Massive riches, considerable challenges

Indonesia lies at the point where Oceania and Southeast Asia intersect. It is a vast archipelago of more than 17,500 islands, 200 million people and significant natural resources.
From glitzy malls to deep rainforests, smoke-belching industrial estates to rice paddies, Indonesia is a sprawling mosaic of a thousand cultures and ways of life, struggling for a better future.

Geography

Indonesia is an archipelagic nation that consists of 5 main islands (Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea) and Sulawesi), and thousands of smaller ones.

Many of these islands are dissected by large rivers of economic and ecologic importance, such as the Mahakam, and Barito in Kalimantan.

Indonesia is located on a shaky part of the Earth. Three tectonic plates below the archipelago are often grinding against each other, forming volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.

As a tropical country, Indonesia is subject to distinct seasons: monsoonal wet and dry seasons.

Nature

Both below and above water, Indonesia’s biodiversity is unrivalled. Tigers, elephants, rhinos, orangutans, cloud leopards, tapirs and a multitude of rare, threatened and amazing wildlife are found in the nation’s forests and swamps. New species are constantly being discovered.

On the eastern part of the archipelago, separate from the Asian landmass, the islands of Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku have seen the evolution of species that are markedly different from western Indonesia.

Further to the east, Papua (originally part of the Australian landmass) exhibits a range of unique habitats, including more than 700 bird species (including migrants).

Indonesia’s warm seas are home to marine turtles, whales, dugongs and the world’s largest diversity of tropical marine species.
White-handed gibbon (<i>Hylobates lar</i>), or Lar gibbon. Found in Tropical ... / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
White-handed gibbon (Hylobates lar), or Lar gibbon. Found in Tropical rainforests of southern and S.E. Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the area encompassing Southern China to Eastern Myanmar (Burma).
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Population & religion

230 million people live in Indonesia, more than half of which live on the island of Java. By 2035, this figure is expected to grow to 315 million. About 85% of this population is Muslim, followed by Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, although animism influences remain.

Economy & Development

Since the 1997 financial crash, Indonesia’s economy has been slowly but steadily growing. In 2005, the  Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$287 billion.

A majority of people are involved in the agriculture sector, for products such as palm oil, rice, tea, coffee, spices and rubber. Some of the major industries include petroleum and natural gas, textiles and mining, with natural resources such as timber, fish, tin, copper and gold generating sizable income.

However, Indonesia’s abundant natural resources have yet to benefit the country as a whole. Now, the challenge is to ensure they are better managed before they run out.
 / ©: WWF
What are the problems?
© WWF
 / ©: WWF
What is WWF doing about the problems?
© WWF
Sources
Wikipedia. Indonesia. Accessed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesia on January 25, 2007.

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