Indonesia is the largest country composed solely of volcanic islands. Some 17,508 of them, of which 6,000 are inhabited. It is also the fourth most populous nation in the world with 238 million people. 140 million of these are on the island of Java, the most populated island in the world.
There is huge ethnic diversity, with over 700 languages recognised in addition to the country's formal language, Bahasa Indonesia. Muslims make up 87.2% of the population, making it the world's largest Muslim majority nation. A small Hindu population remains mainly on Bali.
Indonesia is known for it's beaches, volcanoes, Komodo dragons, and other wildlife such as elephants, orangutans, and tigers.
The archipelago is spread over the Pacific “Ring of Fire” that is situated in the Western Pacific. The country has over 400 active volcanoes and records at least three earthquakes a day.*
- Despite being one of the G20 group of world’s leading economies, roughly half of Indonesia’s population lives on less than US$2 a day.*
- The Buddhist temple of Borobudur on Java is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. It resembles a nine-tiered “mountain,” rising to 34.5m (113 feet) tall. It is estimated to have taken 75 years to complete.*
- Indonesia’s national dish is nasi campur, which is essentially the plate of the day. Served from stalls, warungs (small shops or cafés), and restaurants, it is a combination of many dishes and flavours.*
- Java has become a slang term for the word coffee, after the coffee beans grown on the island of Java. Coffee bushes and the habit of coffee drinking were introduced by the Dutch East India Company to Indonesia in 1696.*
- The word 'ketchup' in English comes from the Indonesian word kecap, which is a sweet soy sauce.*
When to Go
Indonesia has a tropical climate with a wet (October to April) and dry (May to September) season. Temperatures sit between 21-33°C (70-91° F) at sea level, the mountains are a little cooler.
There are some regional exceptions. In Sumatra it rains from October to January in the north, and November to February in the south. In Sulawesi rainfall can be expected in the northern regions during June and July. Bali and Kalimantan are relatively unaffected by the season change.
The best time of year to visit Indonesia is between May and September when the days are dry and sunny. That said, it remains warm during the wet season with rainfall coming in intense tropical bursts typically lasting a couple of hours so shouldn't spoil your trip.
January and February are the wettest months, so you may want to avoid if you are straying off the beaten track. Seas can be rough at this time too.
The peak tourist seasons are mid-June to mid-September and the Christmas and New Year period. At this time prices rocket and you will need to book well in advance to ensure availability.
Falling in love and having our hearts broken in Bali, read more in An Amazing Story of Love, Kindness and Sacrifice for Bali Dogs