With over 18,000 islands, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, although only about 6000 of those islands are currently inhabited. The country is right on the equator, with islands in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the fourth most populous country in the world. The country stretches far and wide, and shares borders with Malaysia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, among a few other countries.
Jakarta city on Java Island is the capital city of Indonesia. The country also has some of the highest concentrations of Muslims, with close to 90 percent of Indonesians following the religion. The country has the second largest tropical rainforests after Brazil.
The people are a mix of the many tribes, an ethnicities that are an intrinsic part of the country’s diversity. Even though the Constitution clearly states its objective of ‘Unity in Diversity’, there are multiple groups and divisions in the country based on religion, caste, class, language, tribe, clan and ethnicity. Indonesian Chinese have a strong economic and social presence all over the country.
For adventure junkies and those who crave to be in the wild, Indonesia is heaven. Massive untouched tropical rainforests that are still completely wild and look exactly like they did hundreds of years ago are commonplace. You can climb active volcanoes, swim with turtles and sharks in the open ocean, see komodo dragons (the largest living lizard species in the world) in the wild, and dive into shipwrecks just off the island coasts.
The local cuisine is dominated with preparations with nasi (rice) or mie (noodles) as the main ingredient. Each region and community has various kinds of rice and noodle preparations that use different kinds of spices, meats, vegetables and sauces so that the same dish tastes different in different regions.
You can go scuba diving, surfing and snorkeling along many of the coasts around the major islands. Smaller and more remote islands may need special permissions and arrangements. After these activities, you can go for a relaxing spa treatment, with a choice of aromatherapy, massages and traditional Indonesian treatments.
To get into Indonesia, you can take flights, boats, trains or travel by road, depending on where you are coming from and what mode of transport you prefer. There are three main international airports – one just outside Jakarta, one at Denpasar on Bali, and one at Surabaya on Java. However, there are many smaller airports that have flights in and out of Malaysia and Singapore.
Certain countries have visa on arrival, some nationalities do not need a visa, while a few select countries need a pre-approved visa to enter Indonesia. Check the details for your country before traveling. Also, there are certain airport, sea ports and land entry points that process visas, so check these before booking your tickets. You can exchange your currency for the local Rupiah at the airport or one of the many exchange places around, but make sure to check you are getting a good rate.