Kids in Ciendah, Flores flocked around us
Be sure to check out the Newsletters we sent from Indonesia for more information and photos, as well as our Indonesia Diving page.
Language: Officially: Bahasa Indonesia. Over 350 local languages exist,
and are still spoken in many areas.
Population: More than 230,000,000 people, united politically as Indonesians. There are over 300 ethnic groups.
Money: Rupiah, with an exchange rate of about Rp10,000 per US$1 in 2006.
Landscape: With more than 18,000 islands, some huge like Sumatra, Kalimantan, Papua (Irian Jaya) and Java, others no more than small rock or sand outcroppings, it is hard to characterize the landscape of this vast country. The land and sea area is more than twice that of the continental USA, but the land area alone is only about three times the size of Texas. Indonesia has more than 120 active volcanoes and many ancient ones. On Papua some mountains are snow-capped year round despite sitting on the equator. The coastal areas of many islands are low and swampy with mangroves. Other islands are dry or forested with white or black sand beaches.
Visited: Arrived in Indonesia on 26 July 2006 and stayed for the visa-allotted three months. Left Batam Island for Singapore on 22 October 2006.
Our track through Indonesia from Darwin to Singapore. Click on a marked area of the map to go to our pages on:
Malaysia, Singapore, Kalimantan, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, Komodo & Rinca, East Nusa Tenggara, or Australia.
An ancient Hindu temple on Lombok
A Very Brief History: Because of the complexity of pre-World War II "Indonesia" we have put short early histories under each region that we visited. During WW II, the Dutch, who for years had governed the islands of Indonesia (to a greater or lesser extent in each region) were routed by the Japanese. Following the Japanese surrender at the end of the war, Indonesia struggled for independence, hoping to attain it under the British, before the return of the Dutch. This only came about (with much world-pressure) in 1949.
Orangutans at Camp Leaky, Kalimantan
The Republic of Indonesia was governed for 40 years by President Soekarno who ruled with a strong arm, virtually abolishing other political parties and leading the third largest communist party in the world after China and the Soviet Union. Soeharto, a general under Soekarno's military, led an anti-communist purge in 1965/1966 which killed an estimated half a million people, and opened the way for a government take-over, leading to Soekarno's fall. President Soeharto invited Western aid, and created a "New Order" government -- one that tolerated no criticism, but sought to unite the country and improve the economic and educational lot of the people. The massive Asian economic crisis in 1997 left the country in economic ruin, from which it is barely beginning to recover. Since Soeharto's resignation in 1998 the country has had a series of leaders as it works its way towards democracy. Regional conflicts continue, and the terrorist bombings in Bali in 2002 and 2005 have further decreased the income derived from tourism as western governments warn their citizens not to visit.
Overview of our travels: Our first stops in Indonesia after our 5-day sail from Darwin, Australia were the hilly, dry islands of East Nusa Tenggara. We day-sailed along the north coast of the islands to arrive in Komodo National Park (which includes the islands of Komodo and Rinca) for some wildlife viewing and diving. From there we continued day-hopping west to Sumbawa, Lombok, and Gili Air (West Nusa Tenggara). After a short hop across the pass we spent several weeks in Bali, then did short passages north to Kalimantan where we ventured into the rainforest to see the orangutans. We cleared out of Indonesia from Nongsa Point Marina on Batam Island, just 12 miles from Singapore.
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