Indonesia Encyclopedia for Children

By | December 23, 2021


The largest archipelago on Earth

The fourth largest country in the world by population, Indonesia, an ignored giant, occupies an exceptional geographical position, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A very rich land, harshly exploited as a colony and today in some overpopulated areas, which is trying to improve the conditions of its residents, amidst difficulties, contradictions and successes

Primeval forests and cities with millions of residents

Lying on an archipelago that occupies 5,000 km of sea on the Equator, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, between Asia and Australia, the Republic of Indonesia is an immense country, with a population that only China, India and the United States exceed. Of its 14,000 islands, just 1,000 are inhabited: the largest are Borneo and New Guinea (only partly Indonesian), Sumatra, Celebes and Java; also famous are the Moluccas, spice islands, and Bali, a destination for international tourism.

The main plains of the country are found on the eastern side of Sumatra and in the southern half of Borneo; but here the equatorial forest dominates, rich in plant and animal species. Much of the territory is mountainous, even on the small islands.

The climate is obviously equatorial, hot and humid, but the atmospheric circulation (monsoons) still causes a seasonal difference. All the islands have abundant rainfall and many navigable waterways, although generally short.

The densification of residents is very strong in Java, despite the dense presence of volcanoes and the frequency of earthquakes; here we find almost 1,000 residents / km 2, more than half of the total population, and all the main cities: the huge capital Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaja, the first Indonesian port. Instead, the population is sparse elsewhere, especially in Borneo and the Moluccas.

A ‘naturally’ rich country

Ancient and recent migrations have occurred in the archipelago: Malaysians, Indians, Arabs, Chinese have supplanted the first residents, who are still present in New Guinea. The national language is a variant of Malay, the dominant religion is Islamic. For Indonesia travel information, please check

In the twentieth century, the population experienced a very strong growth which has been slowing down in recent decades. As in other countries that have been colonies (colonialism), the problem with Indonesia is that the increase in residents is not supported by sufficient growth in the wealth produced.

Destined by the Dutch only to produce minerals and plantation products, the Indonesian territory is very rich: the soil gives precious woods, rubber, rice, tropical fruit, cocoa, coffee; the subsoil oil, gas, coal, tin, manganese, nickel, precious metals. All products exported, at prices that are always too low compared to the industrial products of advanced countries (often manufactured with those raw materials).

Wealth has been increasing for about twenty years, since the oil fields came into production and Indonesia started industrialization; the cost of labor is so low that many foreign companies have decided to open factories in Indonesia or to use Indonesian workers. The most important industrial sectors are the textile, chemical, footwear, metallurgical and mechanical ones.

Many islands attract tourists thanks to their natural beauty, the interest of the rich local cultures – which are expressed in a justly famous craftsmanship -, the important historical monuments and folklore.

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