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Glance at Indonesia

Indonesia straddles the Equator between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. While it has land borders with Malaysia to the north as well as East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the east, it also neighbors Australia to the south, and Palau, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand to the north, India to the northwest.

Understand

Indonesia is the sleeping giant of Southeast Asia. With 18,110 islands, 6,000 of them inhabited, it is the largest archipelago in the world. With almost 240 million people, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world — after China, India and the USA — and by far the largest in Southeast Asia. Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population in the world.

Indonesia markets itself as Wonderful Indonesia, and the slogan is quite true, although not necessarily always in good ways. Indonesia's tropical forests are the second-largest in the world after Brazil, and are being logged and cut down at the same alarming speed. While the rich shop and party in Jakarta and Bali. After decades of economic mismanagement 50.6% of the population still earns less than US$2/day according to figures compiled by the World bank in 2009. This had come down by 6% in the 2 years between 2007 and 2009.

Infrastructure in much of the country remains rudimentary, and travellers off the beaten track will need some patience and flexibility.

According to the “Energy Access” Working Group Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development, in 2001; 53.4% of the Indonesian population had access to electricity, and they consumed 345 kWh per capita electricity consumption (kWh/capita). In the same year the residents of nearby Singapore had 100% access, and they consumed 6,641 kWh/capita. A very large percentage of the Indonesian population remain reliant upon wood for a cooking fuel. The central government has in recent years instituted a program of LPG gas access for use as replacement for the burning of bio-mass sources for cooking.

The Indonesian people, like any people, can be either friendly or rude to foreigners. Most of the time, though, they are incredibly friendly to foreigners.

Climate

Upon arrival and disembarking from the plane, you'll immediately notice the sudden rush of warm, wet air. Indonesia is a warm place. It has no spring, summer, fall, or winter, just two seasons: rainy and dry, both of which are relative (it still rains during the dry season, it just rains less). While there is significant regional variation, in most of the country (including Java and Bali) the dry season is April to October, while the wet season is November to March.

In the highlands temperatures will naturally be cooler, and there are even snow-covered peaks in Papua, whose mountains can soar above 5000 meters. Bring along a jacket if planning to visit eg. Mount Bromo on Java or Tana Toraja in Sulawesi.