Straddling the equator is the largest archipelago in the world and one of the most diverse in landscape and culture.
Indonesia – often dubbed the “Emerald of the Equator” – is a country with a rich history and an emerging market economy that is leading among Southeast Asian nations.
With a population of more than 257 million, only about 6,000 of Indonesia’s 17,508 islands are inhabited.
Trade brought Islam to the country’s shores in the 13th century, and today, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. At least 87% of the population identifies as Muslims.
Indonesia is secular and recognizes at least 6 religions.
Here, more than 500 ethnic groups of different languages and dialects co-exist. The Javanese ethnic group remains the largest in the country, and Bahasa Indonesia is the national language.
The country’s climate can be hot and humid, with a dry season from June to September and a rainy season from October to March.
Indonesia’s tropical climate makes it a perfect vacation spot. Bali, the most famous among the islands, boasts of beautiful beaches, while the lush forests of Kalimantan brings out the adventurer in everyone.
Along the archipelago lies 33 provinces and the Special Region of Yogyakarta. Indonesia’s government and center of business and commerce can be found in the capital, Jakarta, which is also a special administrative region.
After Dutch and Japanese occupations, Indonesia has gone through 6 presidents and different phases – from Soekarno’s “guided democracy,” Suharto’s “New Order,” to its current republic form of government.
Today, the country is headed by its 7th president, former Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, who assumed office in 2014. He may serve a maximum of two consecutive 5-year terms, just like former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who took office after Indonesia’s first direct presidential elections in 2004.
Indonesia is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and a member of the G-20 major economies.
According to the Asian International Economists Network, the country will not reap economic gains automatically from the ASEAN Economic Community beginning 2015 – at least until it overcomes major challenges such as “low capital stock, limited infrastructure, corruption, decentralization issues, legal uncertainty, low value-added investment, and counter-productive measures to investment.”
But the single market in ASEAN can further improve Indonesia’s already impressive economic performance, especially when it comes to its major exports such as oil, gas, and minerals. – Rappler.com