Indonesia General Information
Land & Climate
A portion of Indonesia shares the island of Borneo with Malaysia and Brunei. It shares the island of New Guinea; the western section, known as Irian Jaya, is under Indonesian administration, and the eastern section is part of Papua New Guinea. The rest of the republic includes the Greater and Lesser Sunda Islands, and the Moluccas.
1,904,443 square kilometres (735,310 square miles)
More than five times the size of Japan
A stretch of relatively open water—consisting of the Java, Flores, and Banda seas—divides the major islands of Indonesia into two unequal strings of islands: the comparatively long, narrow islands of Sumatra, Java, Timor, and others, to the south, and Borneo, Sulawesi, the Moluccas, and New Guinea to the north.
A chain of volcanic mountains rising to heights of more than 3,805 metres (12,483 feet) extends from west to east through the southern islands from Sumatra to Timor. Mount Jaya (5,030 metres/16,502 feet), in the Sudirman Range of Irian Jaya, is the highest elevation in the republic. Each of the major northern islands has a central mountain mass, with plains along the coasts. The most extensive lowland areas are on Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Irian Jaya. Over many centuries, periodic volcanic flows from the numerous active volcanoes have deposited rich soils on the lowlands, particularly in Java.
The climate of Indonesia is tropical, with two monsoon seasons—a wet season from November to March and a dry season from June to October. The weather is more moderate between monsoons. Many parts of the country have only slight differences in precipitation during the wet and dry seasons.
Humidity is generally high, averaging about 80 per cent annually. The daily temperature range (about 20° to 32°C/about 68° to 90°F at Jakarta) varies little from winter to summer. Rainfall in the lowlands averages about 1,780 to 3,175 millimetres (70 to 125 inches) annually and in some mountain regions reaches about 6,100 millimetres (240 inches).
Average Temperature and Rainfall Figures
Rainfall in Bali varies over the course of the year from 25 mm to 340 mm per month.
On average most rain falls during the months of January (340mm) and December (299mm). August and July are usually the driest months. (Rainfall in August 25mm and in July 47mm).
Daily average temperatures in Bali range from 26.3°C to 28.8°C.
Peak temperatures usually occur in March (average 28.8°C) and November (average 28.7°C). Average temperatures decline in July to 26.3°C and in August to 26.4°C
Archaeological remains of Homo erectus in Indonesia reveal that these descendants of modern humans lived on the island of Java up to 1.5 million years ago and are referred to as the "Java people". Remnants of an Aboriginal culture have also been found in southern Sumatra. Many groups of people settled around the estuaries of the islands and fished the abundant inland seas. Others settled in the river valleys and grew rice. These people traded amongst themselves for a long time, but by the 1st century AD they were also engaging in overseas trading, dealing in spices and timber. Early Indonesian culture was influenced by India in the early centuries AD, when it is thought that trade between Indonesia and the Bay of Bengal began.
The country is made up of 13,677 islands and split into 27 provinces. The population of Indonesia is 209,774,138 (1997), the fourth largest of any country in the world. There are approximately 350 distinct ethnic groups, many of which have their own language and most of which have their own customs. About 45 per cent of the people are Javanese, 14 per cent Sundanese, 7.5 per cent coastal Malays, and 7.5 per cent Madurese. The remaining 26 per cent of the population is made up of other ethnic groups.
More than 60 per cent of the population lives on the "inner" islands of Java, Madura, and Bali, which together account for less than one-tenth of Indonesia's land area. For several decades the government has operated a "transmigration" policy, opening up new lands in the outer islands and providing infrastructure there for the resettlement of people from Java. Millions have been moved, successfully or otherwise, which has led to reforms in the programme. During the 1980s the number being resettled fell to less than 1 per cent of the population. Meanwhile, spontaneous migration to Java from other islands continues.
The official language is Bahasa Indonesia, which is similar to Malay. More than half the population speaks some Bahasa Indonesia or Malay. However, about 300 other languages are also spoken in the country. Of these, Javanese is the most common, with more than 70 million speakers. Some older people still speak Dutch, the official language until 1942. English is taught as the main international language after regional languages and Bahasa Indonesia.
About 87 per cent of Indonesians are Muslim, making Indonesia the world’s largest Muslim population. Nine per cent are Christian—some northern areas are strongly Christian—and 2 per cent are Hindu, living mainly in Bali. There are also some Buddhists, mostly among the Chinese population. However, traditional animist beliefs, such as ancestor veneration, are as important as any of these religions in the daily life of most Indonesians. Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the constitution and religious tolerance is valued. To avoid religious conflict, the government has made it illegal to attempt to convert people from one religion to another.
The people of Java form the largest cultural group. They are predominantly Muslim and have strong social and spiritual values. They are skilled in the arts of dance, music, and drama. The commercial traders of the coastal region are mostly Muslim and have a high regard for religious learning and law. The indigenous groups of Kalimantan and Irian Jaya maintain tight kinship bonds, practise animistic religions, and have an economic and social life organized around the clan group. The people of Bali are mostly Hindu and belong to traditional kingdoms.
Customs & Duties
You must be in the possession of a passport that has at least six months' validity at the time of your arrival.
1) VISA ON ARRIVAL:
USD 25 (max 30 days)
For more details, please read: Indonesia Visa Regulations
2) FREE-VISA FACILITY (max 30 days)
Extended for Citizens of following Countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Darussalam, The Philippines, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Chile, Morocco, Peru and Vietnam.
Currency, mail, telephone, etc
The unit of currency used in Indonesia is the rupiah (rp). There are coins of 25, 50 and 100 rp. The denominations of the notes are 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rp.
Changing money in the most developed places, concerning tourism, in Indonesia may not cause any problems. There are a lot of moneychangers in the tourist areas. You can also change your money at any bank but you will always get a better rate if you go to a moneychanger. It is no problem to exchange travellers cheques but again you will get a lower rate. If you are planning to go to areas which are less developed you should take precautions and change your money before leaving. There might be some moneychangers in those small villages but just in case you'd better change it before.
Although hotels always add a service charge to their bills, they expect you to give a tip. In common, tipping is not quiet customary but when going to a hotel or restaurant you should give a tip for the waiter or other persons who delivered a service for you. Taxi drivers also expect a tip when paying them.
Almost all goods in tourist areas require bargaining. Especially arts, crafts and clothing. Accommodation has a fixed price but it is often negotiable.
International Direct Dialing (IDD) or trunk calls may be dialed direct using area codes or assisted by an operator. The country code for Malaysia is 60.
Banks: 9.00 am - 3.00 pm (Mon to Fri) Shopping complexes: 10 am - 10 pm daily
Indonesia is divided into 3 timezones. Western Indonesian Time: GMT plus 7 hours, Central Indonesian Time: GMT plus 8 hours and Eastern Indonesian Time: GMT plus 9
Electric supply is on a 240-volt 50-cycle system.
What to Wear
As Indonesia mainly is an islamatic country please make sure that you are properly dressed especially when you go to religious or offical occassions.
And considering the climate it can be very humid and hot so wearing light clothes is advised.
On every island of the Indonesian archipelago you have to be very careful with all drinks and food. In all places water of the tap is not drinkable but it is easy to buy some bottled water and it is very cheap. Use this water also to brush your teeth. We advice you to avoid eating any food that hasn't been peeled or well cooked. Be aware that there is a risk of malaria when travelling to more isolated islands. Mosquitoes carry malaria so the best precautions you can take, are wearing lots of insect repellent and wear long sleeves and trousers. To be vaccinated against tetanus, hepatitis, polio and typhoid is also recommended.
Indonesians celebrate the international New Year on 1 January. The birthday of the Prophet Mohammed is commemorated around February 12. Nyepí is a day of rest for the Balinese after a festival celebrating the New Year and the arrival of spring. The festival’s aim is to lure out the devils that, having been swept out of Hades following the rainy season, have gone into hiding on the island of Bali. People make elaborate offerings to them and then run through the streets, their bodies painted, bearing torches and making noise to drive them off the island.
Good Friday is a public holiday, and Easter is observed, as is Ascension, 40 days after Easter, marking the day when Jesus Christ is said to have ascended to Heaven.
Independence Day, celebrated on 17 August, is considered the most important holiday in Indonesia. Muslim holidays consist of Idul-Fitri, a three-day feast at the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan, and Idul-Adha, a three-day festival for those who are not on the pilgrimage to Mecca (Makkah) and which celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at Allah’s behest.
Christmas Day (25 December) is a public holiday in Indonesia. There are also hundreds of holidays related to other regional, religious, and cultural