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Culture Shock Indonesia

             The world's largest archipelago, Indonesia achieved independence from the Netherlands in 1949. Current issues include: implementing IMF-mandated reforms of the banking sector, effecting a transition to a popularly elected government after years of rule by dictators, addressing charges of cronyism and corruption among the Chinese-dominated business class, dealing with alleged human rights violations by the military, and resolving growing pressures for some form of autonomy or independence in certain regions such as Aceh and Irian Jaya. On 30 August 1999 a provincial referendum for independence was overwhelmingly approved by the people of Timor Timur. Concurrence followed by Indonesia's national legislature, and the name East Timor was provisionally adopted. The independent status of East Timor has yet to be formally established.
             Whilst unity has been a result of history, different cultures are based on many different ethnic groups found throughout the country, which has maintained their traditions, languages and dialects. Protected by adat (customary law), which differs from one region to another, modernization is only a superficial veneer covering the daily life in the cities. Ultimately, adat is man's ties to his family and to his community and is applied to his way of life. .
             The Indonesian culture originated from the farming activities of the indigenous people. It was influenced by the waves of traders from India, China, Saudi Arabia and Europe which brought along their religious teachings. .
             Western influence arrived with the Portuguese, who came in search of spices in the early 16th century and later with the arrival of British and Dutch merchants. The Hindu cultural heritage is also found in this archipelago, such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics which play an important role in the Indonesian culture. .
             Customs and traditions which have merged with religious teachings,* have brought about different ceremonies and festivities, which vary from area to area.

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