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Introduction to Indonesia

             Indonesia is composed of approximately 17,000 islands and is located between the continents of Asia and Australia (Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, 2002, p.52). Mostly are coastal lowlands and some larger islands having interior mountains. The country's most principal islands are Java and Sumatra. Java is also the hub of the political and economic life. The capital, Jakarta is located in Java Island. Jakarta is primarily a city of government and business. Jakarta is also the main international gateway in Indonesia. The other notable cities, Surabaya, Medan and Bandung are all on the island of Java. (Indonesia, 2003, p.127).
             Indonesia is rich in natural resources including vast supplies of rubber, timer and oil. It is also the home of a variety of tropical plants and flowers. Indonesia has a tropical climate, and the temperatures are fairly even throughout the country.
             People and Religion.
             Indonesia's population of 231 million ranks as the fourth most populous country in the world. 80% of Indonesians live in the two islands: Java and Sumatra. The sex ratio is about 1 males/female in total population. Indonesia is a country having diverse ethnic groups and languages. It has 350 distinct ethnic groups, the largest groups are Javanes(45%), Sundanese(14%), and Chinese (3%)(Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, 2002, p.52). Though Chinese only occupy 3% in population, Chinese are the major force in the economy of Indonesia, operating many shops, hotels, banks and industries. (Indonesia, 2003, p.50).
             The official national language is Bahasa Indonesian (Indonesian). About 50% of the people in Indonesia speak Javanese. Most people speak some Indonesian and their native tongue. English is the leading international language. (CultureGrams, 2004). The predominant religions are Islam, Hindus and Christians. 88% of Indonesians are Muslim, and have strong social and spiritual values. Coastal Muslim traders have a high regard for Islamic learning and law.

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