Indonesia is a country of islands… more than 17,000 islands that encompass a world of cultures, pristine islands, unique and rare wildlife, and adventure activities from exploring cave systems to spectacular diving.
With 238 million people in 33 provinces, this is the world’s fourth most populous country. It is also home to the world’s third largest island, Borneo, which itself still conjures up images of explorers and wild places, headhunters and pirates.
The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century. Many nations have influenced these islands as traders, adventurers and others arrived from China, India and Europe. So, too, came Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Dutch colonialism held sway for more than 350 years before Indonesia gained its independence after World War II.
Across its many islands, Indonesia has hundreds of distinct ethnic and linguistic groups. Yet, they have established a collective identity that comes from having a national language that still allows for ethnic diversity, and religious pluralism that functions within a majority Muslim population. Bali and Lombok are two of the country’s most famous islands, with lively culture, tranquil mountains, traditional villages and stunning beaches. Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world’s second highest level of biodiversity. Its flora and fauna are a mix of Asian and Australasian species.
The islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Bali) were once linked to the Asian mainland, and have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, elephant and leopard were once abundant as far east as Bali. The islands’ most celebrated species is the highly endangered orangutan, currently found in only the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.
Indonesia still beckons to adventurers to discover life from its crystal clear waters to its jungle treetops.