DISCOVER INDONESIA, LTR’s November showcase zeros in on one of the world’s most enchanting destinations and one of the largest.
With over 17,000 islands, of which 8000 are inhabited, it enjoys the largest archipelago in the world extending 3300 miles and holds the fourth largest population in the world with over 250 million people (World Bank, 2016 ). Jakarta, the capital city is a bustling metropolis and with the world’s longest shopping mall spread across 5500 hectares ) while the island of Java, the country’s largest, is the most populated with 940 pp per sq.km. It has white sandy beaches, forests throughout, and a marine life second to none in S.E. Asia. 20% of the world’s coral reefs are here with over 600 species, in fact. There are also more than 3000 species of fish. Bunaken National Park on the island of Sulawesi holds 70% of all the fish species in the Indo-Western Pacific Ocean alone. The adjoining island of Raj Ampat has 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Indonesia is in fact a virtual rainforest covering 57% of the land mass (225 million acres ).It has hundreds of volcanic islands of which 150 are active including Krakatoa and Tambora, both noted for their devastating eruptions in the 19th century while its resort islands are internationally ascribed as the world’s most famous. Bali, for one, has been dubbed the “Best Island” by Travel & Leisure Magazine ( 2010 ) and “World’s Best” by the BBC television network ( 2011 ).
Indonesia is also know for its cuisine. It was recently posted as the world’s “most delicious” by CNN ( 2011 ) for its rending .The Ministry of Tourism has labeled tuning as its national dish, instead. The menus throughout the islands rely heavily on rice, coconut, peanut, and fresh fruit along with beef, poultry, and fish. Indonesian coffee with its many variations is the most popular. Tourism is the major source of income, however. In 2015, for example, 10.4 million visited the country spending an average of 8 nights and spending an average of $140 pp per day. Of the favorite travel sites, Borobudor, the world’s largest Buddist temple, was the most visited. The chief religions of Indonesia include Buddism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. There is a fair amount of tolerance for all the major religions in Indonesia as the country is basically democratic and has a generous quality of lifestyle.
Owing to its rich culture, a multiple of different languages, customs and traditions, Indonesia celebrates the arts on a daily basis. Music & Dance are extremely popular. Literally hundreds of dance groups perform regularly. Gamelan is one of the more elaborate orchestras using a variety of ancient instruments, i.e, the angling, kacapi suling, siteran, gong, degung, kebyar, bombing, talempong, kulintang and sasando. These are primarily metallic in tone taking their roots in Islamic, Hindu, Javanese, Balinese and Buddist and Portuguese traditions. The music is now global as is the genre of Dance which takes its form from the numerous religions that you’ll find in the country, and from nature and politics. There are war dances, the dance of the witch doctors, rain dance, dance of the harvest, et. al. Sacred ritual dances are performed only in Balinese temples, which may include the sacred Sanghyang Dedari and Barong dances, for example. Popular folk dances include the Javanese Ronggeng and Sudanese Jaipongan. These are reserved for social functions used throughout the islands by the common people. The Poco-Poco from Minahasa and the Sajojo from Papua are also popular.Customs and traditions dictate the style of dance performed and the costumes or dress for each dance, event or program. Sculpture and painting are two important art forms in Indonesia as well. In Bali, the tradition has carried over for centuries where the style has been more visual, derived from East Java where the forms are more intricate resembling baroque folk art with many tropical themes. These have been influenced by neighboring countries like China, India, the Arab block, even parts of Europe. It is highly stylized. Indonesian art is varied with a wide integration from different parts of the country.
In sum, Indonesia is a place for discovery and has become a serious destination for both business and leisure travelers alike. Affordable and open to all it is worth considering. Check in with you local travel agent or tour operator for more on what Indonesia has to offer or call the Indonesian Consulate in your city and check your web-site for the best deals.
Michael Zufolo/ Editor/ Let’s Travel! Radio