Officially called the Republic of Indonesia, it is the world’s largest archipelago with around 17,000 islands. The islands are located on both sides of the equator. The major islands are Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java, Sulawesi, Bali and Komodo. Its neighbours are Malaysia on the north, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the east. The islands of Philippines are near the northern part of Indonesia and Australia falls to its south.
Bahasa Indonesia is the official language and English and Dutch is also widely spoken. The country’s name comes from the Latin word ‘Indus’ and means “India”, and the Greek ‘nesos’ which means “island”. 60 percent of the country is under forest cover.
Indonesia has over 300 ethnic groups and over 500 languages and dialects. The country has been influenced by the Dutch, British and the Arabs. There are many sight seeing areas spread over numerous islands. Borobudur, in the jungles of Java has the world’s largest Buddhist temple. There are thousands of Buddhist statues and sculptures. This ancient pilgrimage site was built between in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D.
The islands of Bali and Lombok have rugged beaches and also volcanic hills. The variety of climates and landscapes provide for diverse flora and fauna. The world’s largest moth, the Atlas Moth, Indonesian pythons, Komodo dragons, deer fish and orang utans are all natives to Indonesia. One of the rarest animals, the Javan Rhinoceros is found only in Indonesia and Vietnam.
Jakarta is a bustling city and you can find and Indian corner, a Chinese corner and other such communities. There are ferry and boat services to the cities nearby. Bali and Bunaken are great places to surf, sail and dive.
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