Indonesia, as the largest archipelago in the world, is an example of a nation with “unity in diversity”.Indonesians refer to their homeland as Tanah Air Kita, which means “Our Land and Water.” This refers to its geographical makeup consisting of 18,108 islands (based on 2003 satellite imaging data by the Aviation and Space Institute) with a total land mass of 1.91 million square kilometers connected by six seas covering more than 3 million square kilometers.
The temperature ranges between 16-35 degrees Celsius (61-91 degrees F) with humidity ranging from 60-90 percent. There are two seasons, the rainy monsoon season which usually lasts from November through May, followed by the dry season which usually lasts from June through October. Rainfall varies throughout Indonesia, averaging 706 mm (28 inches) yearly.
This strategic position has always influenced the cultural, social, political, and economic life of the country. The territory of the Republic of Indonesia stretches from 6.08’ north latitude to 11.15’ south latitude. The Indonesian sea area is four times greater than its land area, which is about 1.9 million sq km (including an exclusive economic zone) and constitutes about 81 percent of the total area of the country.
Indonesia (with around 235 million people) is the fourth most populous nation in the world after China, India and the United States. Over two thirds of the population resides in Java, the center of the country’s economic and political power.
About 88% of the population is Muslim. Roughly 10% is Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic) and approximately 2% is Hindu and Buddhist. All five of these religions are formally recognized in Indonesia and have official national holidays commemorating events of importance to their followers. While the country is predominantly Muslim, the government is secular and therefore is not based on a single religion.
Jakarta, with a population of over 10 million, Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surakarta (Solo), Medan, Padang, Palembang, Ujung Pandang, Banjarmasin, Bandar Lampung and Manado.
The official language is Bahasa Indonesia. The written and spoken form is based on the Malay trade dialect which was used throughout the region in the past. Bahasa Indonesia is a strong unifying factor in a country where more than 300 distinct regional languages are still spoken. Bahasa Indonesia is not a difficult language to learn and many expatriates quickly learn the language sufficiently to succeed in meeting every day needs. More formal Bahasa Indonesia is expected to be used in high level business meetings. Newspapers and television news use formal Bahasa Indonesia.
English may be spoken in international and high level business contexts in large cities. You may be able to converse with some Indonesians in Jakarta in English. In rural areas it may be difficult to find people who speak English, unless the locale is a widely visited tourist destination. Many employees of international hotels and limousine drivers speak English. You may have difficulty finding an English speaking taxi driver or household staff.
Dutch may be understood by older Indonesians, who may have attended Dutch schools.
The Republic of Indonesia
Indonesia is a republic with political power organized around the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Indonesia declared independence from the Netherlands and Japan on August 17, 1945.
A tasty and Simple Cuisine
Indonesian cooking is mainly of the village. The combination of contrasting flavors, textures, and colors distinguishes the cuisine and unifies the various regional styles. Several dishes are usually present at one meal, which results to serve the food at the room temperature. Everything is generally served together: soups, side dishes, sauces, meats, fish, vegetables, fruits…..
An average Indonesian family meal consist mainly of rice with a vegetable dish and a fish, chicken, or meat dish which come along with condiment called sambal. Raw vegetables (lalap) with sambal are also very common parts of a meal.
Food of the Indonesian Archipelago is very much based on peasant tradition. Unlike the cuisines of China and Thailand, there are no elaborate recipes derived from court delicacies or ceremonial dishes. Indonesian food is to be eaten and enjoyed with family and friends. Based on fresh and simple ingredients blended with a subtle range of spices, it reflects the colorful diversity of its regions and the outside influences on its people throughout history.