|General background: The world's largest archipelago,
Indonesia achieved independence from the Netherlands
in 1949. Current issues include: implementing IMF-mandated
reforms of the banking sector, effecting a transition
to a popularly-elected government after four decades
of authoritarianism, addressing charges of cronyism
and corruption, holding the military accountable for
human rights violations, and resolving growing separatist
pressures in Aceh and Irian Jaya. On 30 August 1999
a provincial referendum for independence was overwhelmingly
approved by the people of Timor Timur (East Timor).
Concurrence followed by Indonesia's national legislature,
and the name East Timor was provisionally adopted. On
20 May 2002, East Timor was internationally recognized
as an independent state.
Slightly less than three times the size of Texas
Climate: Tropical; hot, humid; more moderate
Terrain: Mostly coastal
lowlands; larger islands have interior mountains
Population: 231,328,092 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Javanese 45%, Sundanese 14%,
Madurese 7.5%, coastal Malays 7.5%, other 26%
Religions: Muslim 88%, Protestant 5%, Roman
Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, other 1% (1998)
Language: Bahasa Indonesia (official, modified
form of Malay), English, Dutch, local dialects, the
most widely spoken of which is Javanese.
Government type: Republic
Legal system: Based on Roman-Dutch law, substantially
modified by indigenous concepts and by new criminal
procedures code; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.
Economic overview: Indonesia, a vast polyglot
nation, faces severe economic development problems,
stemming from secessionist movements and the low level
of security in the regions, the lack of reliable legal
recourse in contract disputes, corruption, weaknesses
in the banking system, and strained relations with
the IMF. Investor confidence will remain low and few
new jobs will be created under these circumstances.
In November 2001, Indonesia agreed with the IMF on
a series of economic reforms in 2002, thus enabling
further IMF disbursements. Keys to future growth remain
internal reform, the build-up of the confidence of
international donors and investors, and a strong comeback
in the global economy.
Communication/Telephone system: Domestic service
fair, international service good.
Places of interest:
Travel tips: Australian, UK and US governments
warn their citizens to avoid demonstrations of any
kind, due to strong anti-Western sentiment. Extremist
groups have made threats against US interests in the
country, and Jakarta has seen numerous bombs explode
in the past several years. The Philippine terrorist
organization Abu Sayyaf, known for kidnapping tourists,
is said to be active in Indonesia.