Indonesia Geography and Population

Indonesia (Geography)

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago. It stretches 2000 km from north to south and 5100 km – over three time zones – from west to east. Only 1/5 of the total territory is rural. Among the islands are some of the largest in the world; two of them are shared with other countries: the northern part of Borneo belongs to Malaysia and Brunei, and the eastern part of New Guinea to Papua New Guinea. The Indonesian parts of Borneo and New Guinea are named respectively. Kalimantan and Papua. East Timor was integrated into Indonesia in 1975-76, but the annexation was not recognized by the UN, and in 2002 East Timor gained full independence. The five largest islands, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Papua, Sulawesi (Celebes) and Java together make up more than 85% of the total land area. In addition, the Riau Islands off the Malacca Peninsula, the small Sunda Islands east of Java and the even more eastern Moluccas; a total of more than 17,000 islands, several thousand of which are inhabited; exactly how many are not known.


Nowhere on Earth are there such great height differences as in Indonesia. Here there are over 15 km between the highest peaks of the volcanic island arches and the deepest valleys in the nearby deep-sea tombs. In recent geological times, the distribution of sea and land has changed a lot, and the structure of the islands is complex. There are mountain ranges with swollen and folded sea deposits and several hundred active volcanoes, which occasionally have explosive eruptions. Most famous is the eruption of Krakatau in 1883, which claimed over 10,000 lives and could be followed over most of the world as particularly red sunsets (due to volcanic ash in the atmosphere). Frequent earthquakes with landslides and tidal wavesas a result as well as local uplift and subsidence testify that the dynamic activity continues. It is the lithosphere plate under the Indian Ocean and Australia, which continues to sink below Indonesia from the south, and New Guinea and the Philippine Ocean plate, which push on from the east.

Indonesia comprises a 1/2 -1% of the world’s oil and about 1 1/2 % of natural gas reserves. Both are utilized at a rapid pace with large exports to e.g. Japan. Several fields are offshore and have given rise to territorial conflicts. To a small but increasing extent, the large resources of geothermal energy in the volcanically active areas are utilized. The two islands of Bangka and Belitung east of Sumatra have for many years provided a significant share of the world’s tin production, but production is declining.

Soil and climate

Terrain and soil vary greatly in the vast archipelago. The young volcanic soils of Bali and Java are deep and nutritious and suitable for intensive rice cultivation. One can observe a clear connection between agricultural development, population density and proximity to volcanoes. The over 50 volcanoes in Java and Bali regularly bring destruction, but are at the same time a prerequisite for large population densities; eg Java contains over 110 million. inhab one of the world’s largest agricultural-based population concentrations. On the other islands, the soil is often older, more acidic and less fertile. The rainforests of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Irian Jaya cover a total of 120 million. ha, approximately 2/3of the territory of Indonesia. In several places, the rainforest has been cleared to provide arable land for the large population, but often with the known negative consequences. It requires large supplies of nutrients to cultivate the lean soil for several years, and heavy monsoon rains can quickly wash away the nutrient soil.

Selection of Indonesian islands (population includes small neighboring islands)
area (km2) population (2010)
Kalimantan 539,500 13.77 million
Sumatra 473,600 50.37 million
Papua 422,000 2.83 million
Sulawesi 189,200 17.4 million
Java 125,600 133 million
Halmahera 17,780 450,000
Seram 17,150 434,100
Timor (west) 16,510 th most common 1.66 million
Sumbawa 15,450 th most common 1.33 million
Flores 14,250 1.83 million
Bangka 11,400 660,700
Sumba 11,150 685,200
Buru 9505 161,800
Bali 5561 3.9 million
Lombok 5435 3.17 million
Madura 5290 3.6 million
Lighting 4800 262,400
Nias 4772 756,800
Butung 4200 447,400

Larger lowland areas are found only along the east coast of Sumatra, on the southern Kalimantan and in the coastal area of ​​Irian Jaya. However, a large part is mangrove swamp and not suitable for cultivation.

Large and navigable rivers are found only on Kalimantan and Sumatra, but there are many small ones which in Bali and Java are used for irrigation.

The equator runs through Indonesia and the climate is tropical and humid everywhere. It is hot all year round and the temperature varies especially with the altitude. In the lowlands it is typically 32 °C during the day; in Jakarta it has never been measured above 36 °C or below 18 °C. Around the equator it rains all year round, while western Java and Sumatra have a clear rainy season during the NE Monsoon from December to March. East Java and the islands to the east have a clear dry season between July and October. But there are great local variations, especially due to the influence of the mountains; Jakarta gets approximately 1800 mm of rain per year, while Bogor, located on a hillside 40 km away, receives over 4000 mm. Heavy monsoon rains fall in prolonged cloudbursts with over 600 mm of precipitation in a day.


The country’s population grew very strongly for a long time, but under the impression of economic development, urbanization and ambitious family planning programs, population growth has slowed. The population is unevenly distributed; a very large part is found in the old core areas with intensive rice cultivation. Java, Madura and Bali together make up just one-thirds of Indonesia’s territory, but have two-thirds of the population. On the other hand, large parts of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua are very sparsely populated. Throughout the 1900’s. therefore, the authorities launched transmigration programs, a government program to relocate families from Java and Bali to sparsely populated areas; it has happened with varying intensity and varying success.

  • Countryaah: Do you know how many people there are in Indonesia? Check this site to see population pyramid and resident density about this country.

Indonesia has more than 300 different ethnic groups, with Javanese and Sundanese in Java as the largest groups. Known, smaller peoples are batak on Sumatra, dayak on Kalimantan and toraja on Sulawesi. The vast majority of the population of Java and Sumatra are Muslims. An important minority in Indonesia are the approximately 2% Chinese, who, as in the rest of South-East Asia, are centrally located in the business community. The variegated ethnic composition forms the basis of the official motto, bhinneka tunggal ika, ‘unity in diversity’, which has been given a prominent meaning, closely linked to nationalism.

Business geography

A majority of Indonesia’s population subsists on agriculture. Arable land constitutes 11% of the total area; almost half, corresponding to approximately 10 mio. ha, is used for intensive rice cultivation, and Indonesia is the world’s third largest rice producer (after China and India). On the drier eastern islands, corn, cassava, dry rice and taro are grown. Coffee exports come mainly from the core areas (Java coffee), while the historically important spice production still continues in the Moluccas (Spice Islands). Rice has been grown for more than 2000 years in Bali and Java. Cultivation still requires control of the water supply, which is the background for the so-called hydraulic communities with well-developed local management and bureaucracy. With the Green Revolution introduction in the 1970’s, however, new, high-yielding rice varieties together with pesticides and fertilizers have replaced the traditional cultivation methods. Yields rose sharply, forming the basis for a significant increase in prosperity in the villages; however, the long-term ecological consequences of the changed methods have not been clarified. Rice is staple food for most people; for this purpose, fish, eggs, beans and other vegetables are eaten, while meat is eaten to a lesser extent.

Along with the economic development in the countryside, there has been an extensive industrialization in Indonesia. Traditionally, there have been many types of small industry, including batik manufacturing (batik, Javanese ‘to print’), but since the 1970’s the country with tax cuts and low wages has established a favorable investment climate, which has attracted foreign investment primarily to the clothing, electronics and food industries. Paper mills and heavy industry with shipyards and oil refineries have also been established, and state-owned companies are collaborating with foreign companies to produce aircraft and cars.

Large sums have been invested in infrastructure during the same period. The road network has been expanded and improved; Among other things, Java has got a smaller highway network. Telecommunications now extend throughout the archipelago, and a television network with commercial and state stations stretches from west to east. Both air and ship traffic are well developed in a dense mesh network.

Tourism is growing strongly. The vast majority visit Java and Bali, but also Sumatra and Sulawesi are tourist destinations, and more and more cities are getting four-star hotels. It is the country’s combination of cultural history, natural scenery and climate that entices. Despite the rapid and extensive modernization of the community, there are still strong local traditions, also on the densely populated islands of Java and Bali. Indonesian for everyday use can be learned quickly, and a low price level as well as liberal visa rules make it easy for the tourist who wants to stay for a longer period. On the downside, there is widespread bureaucracy, authoritarian rule, and increasing commercialization and intrusive environmental problems.

Indonesia (Ethnography)

Indonesia’s many remote islands, high mountains and isolated valleys as well as very diverse external influences have resulted in a multifaceted ethnic mosaic with more than 300 different peoples. The peoples can be divided into four main groups: Protomals, Deuteromals, Papuans and Chinese. The Proto-Malay people were the first residents of the islands. They immigrated from the north, mainly from China, and are found today in the interior of Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Sumatra as well as on the eastern small Sunda Islands. The Deutero-Malay, who immigrated from about 500 BC, also came from China, but spread to Indonesia via the Philippines. Today they make up approximately 90% of the population and is found mainly in Java,Bali, Madura and Lombok as well as in the coastal areas of Sumatra and Borneo. The Papuans of Papua are a Melanesian people whose culture is fundamentally different from that of the Malays. The Chinese, who live in the cities and primarily subsist on trade, make up only approximately 2% of the population, but controls a large part of the Indonesian economy.

In the coastal areas of the islands, where there have been many contacts with the outside world, a relatively uniform Islamic culture has emerged; it consists mainly of trade-oriented communities that took part in the international spice trade from the 1500’s. to 1800-t. In the mountainous and forested interior, on the other hand, very diverse cultures have emerged, which have not had much contact with each other. Defined by their cultivation methods, the inland cultures can be divided into two main types. One is found mainly in Java, Bali, Madura and Lombok in areas where landscape and rainfall allow rice to be grown on terraces. The form of cultivation and the associated construction work have led to large population concentrations; the societies were early influenced by Indian culture and religion, which is still evident, but Islam and Islamic cultural elements are dominant.sweating. These tribes have lived relatively isolated without the influence of Hinduism and Islam and have developed their own distinct life patterns.

Indonesia – language

Indonesia’s official language is Indonesian, bahasa indonesia, which is only the mother tongue of about 23 million. (about 11% of the population). The largest are Javanese (42%) and Sundanese (15%), both of which are spoken in Java. In addition, approximately 250 other Austronesian languages, including Minangkabau, Acehnese, Batak, Lampungian and Rejang (all in Sumatra), Malay (including Riau), Banjarese (in Borneo), Madurese (in Madura and Java), Balinese (in Bali), Sasak (in Lombok) as well as Buginese and Makassar (in Sulawesi) are all spoken by more than 1 million. In Papua, many hundreds of Papuan languages ​​are spoken. Chinese is the most prominent immigrant language. During colonial times, Dutch occupied a dominant position. For culture and traditions of Indonesia, please check animalerts.

Indonesia (Religion)

Indonesia has no state religion. The major religions, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, are equal. However, Islam is the country’s dominant religion, with more than 85% of the population being Muslims, mainly Sunnis; Indonesia is thus the world’s largest Islamic state. The Christians, who are the largest minority group, Hindus, Buddhists and adherents of tribal religions make up approximately 12%.

When the Muslims invaded Indonesia in the 1200’s, they came into close contact partly with the original Indonesian religion, partly with Hinduism and Buddhism. Islam, during its advance, absorbed many features of these religions; for example, among the rural population of Java, features from an original religion have been preserved, while another group is influenced by Indian religion. Facing these groups are the more orthodox followers who have a deeper knowledge of Islam. In Bali, the majority of the population is Hindu.