Basic facts 

More information about Indonesia

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Indonesia is a huge country consisting of about 17 000 islands. Only approximately 6 000 of them are inhabited. Indonesia,  with its population of almost 220 milions, is the fourth largest country in the world regarding number of inhabitants.

Here you find remains of old ancient cultures. Already during the time of the birth of Christ people were cultivating rice on irrigated fields.

The people established traderoutes early with India and China which resulted in introduction of hinduism and buddhism.  During the 11th century islam was brought to the region and today is almost 90 % of the population belonging to this religion. Indonesia has the largets muslim population in the world.

In the beginning of the 14th century the first european ships arrived to the area called Molucku. The dutch dominated the trade with spices from the 15th centrury, but it took them more than 300 years to get full control of the country. The japanese occupied Indonesia during World War II. On August 17, 1945 the Liberation- movement proclaimed independence for the people. Regretfully the indonesians after the liberation not always have achieved the liberty or the humanrigths they faught for. The current problems are well known.

Indonesias natur , on land as well as in the sea, is offering a large variety of spices. Here you find 25 % of the worlds different fishes, 17 % of the birds, 16 % of the reptiles, 12 % of the mamals and 10 % of the plants.  430 of the birds and 200 of the mamals are endemic.

The island of Java, with its more than 90 miljon inhabitants has the largets population in the country. With a populationdensity of more than 800 persons per sq km makes the island to one of the most dense populated areas in the world.

The population consists of more than 200 hundred different ethnic groups with different language. The chines population is a big ethnic group. The majority of them are businessmen.

The island of Sulawesi is located just east of Indonesias middle point. About 15 million years ago there was a collision between three big landblocks which gave Sulawesi its spectaculare shape.
The equatorline is crossing the northern part of Sulawesi. Due to that it is very hot and humid during the whole year with heavy rains. More than 50 % of the surface is covered with rainforrest with a rich flora and fauna. Alfred Wallace, a british naturalist, discovered in the 19th century that a mixture of "eastern" and "western"species lived on the island and launched his so called "Wallaceline". He assumed that there once had been connections between Asia and Australia. Many of the animals found here are endemic; as the babirusa (deerpig) , anoa (dwarf buffalo) and the maleo bird. On the island you can also find the tarsier, which is one of the smallest mamals in the world. On Sulawesi the largest pytonsnake in the world was caugth, almost 10 meters long!

During five weeks I crossed the island,  from south to north. My trip started in Ujung Pandang, formerly called Makassar, and ended in Manado. The trip contained four major "blocks".

The first longer stop during the trip was in Tana Toraja, a scenic area where the torajas live. My base was Rantepao. The torajas are famous for their funeralceremonies, which can go on during many days. The ceremonies starts with the reception of the guests and includes buffalofigths. After that the animals are killed. During big celebrations up to 30 buffalos can be slaugtherted. The religion of the torajas is based on honour for their ancestors. 

Still they bury their dead in caves, which can be visited. In the region you will also find graves hanging down from steep cliffs, or in small houses. Once the torajas buried their babies in living trees in belief that the power of the tree was transfered into the body. The torajas are one of the few ethnic groups still building their houses, tongkonans, in a traditional way. These beautiful houses can be seen everywhere.

I trekked to several of the small and beautiful villages as Batutomonga, Kete Kesu, Sangalla, Nangalla, Tikala, Kambira, Palawa and Tampangallo.  

The wana people, a small ethnic group of about 5 000, are living in the Morowali area, which can be entered from Kolonodale. They practice shifting cultivation and are collecting rattan and resin to trade. The wanas are also skilled hunters and still using blowpipes. By living their traditional lives they are now violating the laws according to the governement, who made Morowali to a nature reserve. The wanas can be moved out from the area in a near future. The organization "Sahabat Morowali" , Friends of Morowali, are figthing for their rigths.

I celebrated the turn of the millennium on Pagemba, a small island belonging to the Togian Islands. Here you find beautiful coral reefs. You can snorkle or canoe to study some of the many different fishes living here. On some of the islands you still can find the largets land living crab, the coconut crab. You can also visit bajau villages here. The bajaus are seanomads, sometimes living their whole lives on boats.

I reached Manado, once the largest smuggling town on Sulawesi, via the nigthferry between Pagimana and Gorontalo. You need good nerves to do this trip as the ferry very often is overloaded with people and cargo. The catastrophy is never far away! During my trip about 7-800 persons were on the boat which is allowed for about 250!

With Manado, on the northern part of the island, as a base I visited different interesting places.

The nature reserve Tangkoko offers a rich wild life. The reserve is only about 8 876 hectars and has fertile volcanic soil. The park has about 160 species of animals, 50 of them are endemic. You can find tarsier, the smallest primate in the world, anoa, maleo birds, black macaques (monkeys), babirusa and of course hornbills, birds with a great symbolic meaning.

The foodmarket in Tomohon is famous for selling dogmeat, grilled rats, bats and pyton snake. Delicacies appreciated by the minahasa people.

There are fine trekking possibilities in the area. I made some nice trekks up to the volcanoes Lokon and Mahawu. Two rather easy trekks which gives you nices views over the Minahasa inland and possibility to go down to a crater where you can smell the scent of the interior of our planet.

Sulawesi, was a great place to visit. The beutiful nature, the exciting culture and the friendly people were components in an interesting and successful journey.  

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Toraja woman

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Young bugis man.
Ujung Pandang 

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Fort Rotterdam.
Ujung Pandang

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Warugas, old graveyards. Airmadiddi 

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The Al Markaz mosque. Ujung Pandang 

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Pinisis - Sailingships.
Ujung Pandangl

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Torajalandscape. Batutomonga

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Kete Kesu

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Cleaning buffalo.
Tana Toraja

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Tana Toraja

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Slaugthered buffalo during a burialceremoni

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Tau tau-statues.
Burialcave at 

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On the Morowali- river 

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Selling Durianfruits. Togian Islands 

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Wana chief. Morowali 

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Togian Islands

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Baju children. Togian Islands

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Last sunset of the millennium.

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Smoked rats.
Market in Tomohon

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Pyton on sale.

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Tarsier - "Ghostanimal".

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Black makaka.

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Bamboosnake. Tangkoko


Basic facts:

Conventional longform:  Republik Indonesia

Area, total: 1 904 569 sq km
54 716 km
248 217 000
Population/sq km:
(Java and Madura 880, Sumatra 86, Bali 521, Sulawesi 73, Kalimantan 19)
Jakarta / 8 400 000

Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Puncak Jaya 5 030 m
Largest rivers:
Kapaus, Mahakam, Batang Hari, Musi, Mamberano, Digul
Largest lake:
Danau Toba

Pop. growth rate: 1.04 %
Infant mortility rate:
(deaths / 1 000 live births)
Life expectancy at birth (years):
Male / Female  69 / 73

Ethnic groups: Javanese 40.6 %, Sundanese 15 %, Madurese 3.3 %, MinanKaban 2.7 %, Belawi 2.4 %, Buginese 2.4 %, Banten 2.0 %, Banjar 1.7 %, other ethnic groups and unspecified 29.9 %
Muslim 86.1 %, Lutheran Protestants 5.7 %, Roman Catholic 3.0 %, Hindu 1.8 %, Buddhist 1.0 %, other religions and unspecified 2.4 %
Bahasa Indonesia (official), English, Dutch, local dialects
Literacy; % of pop. over 15 years:
Male / Female: 94.0 / 86.8

Independence: August 17, 1945
National holiday:
August 17, Independence Day

GNP/capita: USD 2 963
Population below poverty line:
13.3 %
 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
Tourists (annually): 6 234 000

Mobile telephones: 220 000 000
20 000 000
Railways: 5 042 km
437 759 km

Source: CIA World Factbook 2012/02

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Map of Sulawesi

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The origin of the Indonesian flag can be traced back to an uprise in the 11th century. In 1922 it was used by the national liberation movement. During the independece in 1945 the flag was official.


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The crest shows Garuda, the holy bird if the hindus. Garuda is the mesenger of Vishnu.
The star in the center of the crest is symbolizing the faith for the holyness. The head of the buffalo is representing the freedom of the country and the struggle for independence.  The tree is symbolizing the self-confidence of the country and the seedears prosperity. The chain is representing the solidarity between the etchnic groups living in the country.
The text oin the bottom of the crest means: 
"Unity in multiplicity".

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This page is updated 2012-03-14

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