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Full Country Name:
The Republic of Indonesia
Country Profile: Indonesia


Indonesia Map


Blog Full Country Name: The Republic of Indonesia
Area: 1,919,443 square kilometres (741,098 square miles)
Population: 221m (projection for 2003 based on 2000 census results, making it the fourth largest in the world)
Capital: Jakarta (population: estimates 13.23 million)
People: Javanese 45%, Sundanese 14%, Madurese 7.5%, coastal Malays 7.5%, others 26%
Languages: Official language Bahasa Indonesia. There are about 583 languages and dialects, but only 13 of these have more than 1m speakers.
Religions: Muslim 87% (the country with the world's largest Muslim population), Protestant 6%, Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, other 1%
Currency: Rupiah
Major Political Parties: Party of the Functional Groups (Golkar), Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), Democrat Party (PD), United Development Party (PPP), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), National Awakening Party (PKB), National Mandate Party (PAN), Crescent Star Party (PBB) – several other parties hold a small number of seats in parliament.
Government: Republic
Head of State: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Deputy Head of State: Vice President Yusuf Kalla
Foreign Minister: Hassan Wirajuda
Economic Information: See below
Membership of International groupings/organisations: UN, WTO, OPEC, IMF, IBRD, Asian Development Bank, Colombo Plan, APEC, ASEAN (founding member), Mekong Group, OIC, ASEM, IMO, G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)


Indonesia is an equatorial archipelago of over 17,500 islands (6,000 inhabited) extending about 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometres) east to west and 1,250 miles (2,012 kilometres) north to south. It is divided into 32 provinces. The largest islands are Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes) and Papua (the Indonesian half of New Guinea, sometimes known as Irian Jaya). Most of the smaller islands except Madura and Bali belong to larger groups. The largest of these are the Moluccas (Spice Islands) and Nusa Tenggara (Lesser Sundas).


Recent History

After the fall of President Soeharto in May 1998 Indonesia changed dramatically. Soeharto’s Vice-President, B J Habibie, took over the presidency until October 1999, when Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) was elected. After only 21 months in office Wahid was impeached for alleged involvement in financial scandals and replaced by his Vice-President, Megawati Soekarnoputri, (the daughter of Indonesia’s first President, Soekarno) in July 2001. The transition was a peaceful one, which was a promising sign that Indonesia was coming to terms with its new democratic system. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Megawati’s former security minister, was elected President in September 2004 after defeating Megawati in a second-round election run-off. In his inauguration speech he pledged to stimulate the economy, fight corruption, promote peace in Aceh and Papua and prioritise education and health.

On 26 December 2004, an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale occurred off the coast of North Sumatra, causing a Tsunami that affected several countries in South and South East Asia and Africa. In Indonesia the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra were worst hit, with over 126,500 people dead, 93,500 missing and large areas of coastline completely devastated. The Indonesian Government, together with NGOs and the international community worked together to ensure emergency relief, including food, temporary shelter and medical supplies, reached affected areas immediately. On 26 March, three months after the disaster, the Indonesian Government announced the end of this emergency phase and the beginning of the recovery phase for Aceh. In April 2005, the Government published its ‘blueprint’ for rehabilitation and reconstruction of Aceh. This 5 year plan takes into account the physical and social reconstruction of Aceh.

The Tsunami has given added importance to the need for a negotiated peace in Aceh between the Indonesian Government and the separatist group, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Fighting between both sides has been ongoing since 1976. In January 2005, the Indonesian Government and GAM met in Helsinki in the first of a series of peace talks. We and our EU partners support the talks between the Indonesian Government and GAM and believe that a long-term solution to Aceh's problems can only be achieved through peaceful political negotiation and consultation with the people.

On 12 October 2002 bombs on the island of Bali led to the deaths of 202 people, including 28 British nationals. The then President Megawati said immediately after the bombings that she was determined to deal with the terrorist threat. The Indonesian police, with the help of Australian and British police, made significant progress in their investigation into the Bali attacks. Over 30 suspects have been convicted so far. A number of countries, including the UK, Australia and the US, are assisting Indonesia with counter terrorism training. However, the Marriott hotel bombing in Jakarta on 5 August 2003 and the car bomb outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta on 9 September 2004 underline the continuing threat from terrorism.

The Indonesian Government brokered an agreement (the Malino I Accord) to end fighting between Christian and Muslim factions in Central Sulawesi, which was signed on 20 December 2001. This has brought an end to the large-scale inter-communal violence but the area remains tense and violent clashes still occur.

In the Moluccas serious sectarian violence in 2000 and 2001 violence left thousands dead. On 12 February 2002 the Indonesian Government brokered an agreement (the Malino II Accord) between Christian and Muslim factions in Maluku. Despite attempts to incite unrest, there has been some progress on the ground in Ambon and on 15th September 2003 the Indonesian Government lifted the state of civil emergency in the Province. However, sporadic clashes still occur.

Following the departure of the Dutch in 1962 and a brief period of UN administration, Indonesia took over the administration of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) in 1963. Irian Jaya became a province of Indonesia following a UN-supervised Act of Free Choice in 1969, the legitimacy of which is much debated. The Special Autonomy law was passed after consultations with the Papuan people by Gus Dur's government on 1 January 2002. However, this was not properly implemented, and on 27 January 2003, President Megawati issued a Presidential Instruction to split Papua into three provinces. But there was concern that this contradicted the Special Autonomy Law, making its implementation difficult. However, on 14 November 2003 the Indonesian Government announced the formation of a new province of West Irian Jaya in Papua marking the official split of West Irian Jaya from the rest of Papua.


Institutions and Government

The highest authority of the State is the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR - Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat) with 700 members who serve for five years. The MPR includes 500 members of the House of Representatives (DPR - Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat), the country's legislature. The remaining 200 seats in the MPR are allocated to regional representatives and delegates of respected organisations, such as NGOs, religious and professional bodies. Executive power rests with the President, governing with the assistance of the Vice President and an appointed cabinet responsible to him/her. The President can serve a maximum of two presidential terms.

On 20 September 2004 Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was elected President in the first ever direct Presidential election in Indonesia. The first round of this election was held on 5 July 2004, in which the public voted directly for their President and Vice President on double tickets put forward by the major parties. As none of the Presidential candidates won over 51% of the vote, the two candidates with the highest number of votes, Megawati and Yudhoyono, went forward to the run-off second round election. Yudhoyono was officially declared the victor on 4 October.

The Supreme Court is the judicial organ of the state along with the courts of law; these are independent of the Executive in exercising their judicial powers. Local government is through a three-tier system of provincial, district and village assemblies.


GDP: $226.8bn (2004, EIU)
GDP per head: $1,103 (2004, EIU,)
Annual Growth: 5.1% (2004, EIU)
Inflation: 6.1% (2004, EIU)
Major Industries: Oil, gas, mining (coal, minerals, metals), forestry, fishery, rubber, agriculture (especially coffee and rice)
Major Trading Partners: Japan, US, Singapore, EU, South Korea, China
Exchange rate: £1 = approximately 18,109 Rupiah (as at April 2005) US$1=9, 440

President Yudhoyono has highlighted the need to lift economic growth and investment in order to create jobs as key priorities. The administration’s other priority is to stamp out corruption, which significantly raises producers’ costs and deters investment.

On 1 March 2005 the Government enacted a controversial reduction in the fuel price subsidy, resulting in a 29 per cent rise in the average cost of fuel. The Government has pledged to use the savings, an estimated 40 trillion rupiah ($4.6 billion), on priority areas including increased expenditure on education, health care and poverty alleviation.

Indonesia’s economy has stabilised in recent years. Real GDP grew by 5.1 percent in 2004, the fastest rate since the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Structural reforms have made tremendous progress and Indonesia is on track to return 95% of the banking assets to the private sector. The budget deficit was reduced to 1.3% of GDP last year and may reduce further in 2005 as a result of the reduction in fuel subsidies. It is difficult to say what effect the Tsunami will have on the economy. The Government has estimated that the reconstruction of Aceh and North Sumatra will cost 58.3 trillion rps (£3,410 million). Foreign aid and grants will offset some of this cost and the economy will also benefit this year from the Paris Club’s debt deferral for Tsunami affected countries but the state budget will still have to absorb a substantial amount of the cost of reconstruction.

Indonesia's relations with neighbours

As a founding member of ASEAN, Indonesia has traditionally been seen as the lynchpin of the organisation. Indonesia is keen to promote good co-operation with ASEAN countries, particularly on trade and on regional issues such as piracy and smuggling. This co-operation was strengthened following the Tsunami, with ASEAN countries being among the first to provide assistance to Indonesia. Despite disputes with some ASEAN countries, including Indonesian illegal immigrants in Malaysia and territorial disputes over the Amblat Islands, relations remain strong. President Yudhoyono’s first official visit after taking office was to Malaysia and Singapore in February 2005.

Indonesia has made efforts to improve its relations with East Timor after the violence that followed the popular consultation in East Timor in 1999 and Indonesia's withdrawal. The relationship was boosted by President Megawati's decision to attend East Timor's Independence Day celebrations in Dili on 20 May 2002, despite significant opposition from members of parliament, and President Yudhoyono’s visit in April 2005. During this visit, Yudhoyono signed a provisional border agreement with East Timor’s Prime Minister Alkatiri, overcoming one of the obstacles to closer relations with East Timor. The issue of justice for human rights abuses committed during Indonesia's time in East Timor remains a complicating factor in the two countries' bilateral relations. However, Indonesia and Timor Leste have agreed to set up a bilateral Truth and Friendship Commission to address this issue.

East Timor Country Profile

Relations with Australia has seen a significant improvement recently. The low point of relations was 1999 following Indonesia's involvement in events in East Timor and the Australian decision to provide troops for the UN force in East Timor. A landmark visit to Australia by former President Wahid in his last days as President, a visit to Jakarta by Prime Minister Howard in the first days of Megawati's Presidency, and a visit by Yudhoyono in April 2005, have gone a long way towards rebuilding the relationship. Co-operation between the two countries' has increased since the Bali bombings and following the Tsunami, where Australian military, medical and aid personnel have been heavily involved in both the initial humanitarian relief and longer term recovery of Aceh.

Indonesia's relations with the international community

This relationship has been boosted following the international community’s overwhelming support following the Tsunami disaster. The Indonesian government has worked closely with the UN, international NGOs and foreign military to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Aceh in the immediate aftermath of the crisis. The UN and international NGOs continue to work in Aceh for the foreseeable future to assist the Indonesian Government’s long term reconstruction of the province.

Human Rights

In February 2000, the UN Security Council accepted Indonesia's pledge to conduct an ad hoc human rights tribunal to investigate alleged abuses committed in East Timor. After repeated delays the tribunal began work on 14 March 2002 and the last verdict was delivered on 5 August 2003. Of the 18 defendants tried, only 6 were found guilty, all but one of whom have since had their sentences quashed. The EU issued a statement in August 2003 expressing its disappointment with the process.

As a follow up to the ad-hoc Tribunal the UN Secretary-General has established a Commission of Experts to assess the work of the ad-hoc tribunal for East-Timor. The EU supports the UNSG's Commission of Experts. At the same time Indonesia and Timor Leste have agreed to set up a bilateral Truth and Friendship Commission. We hope both Commissions will work together to deliver justice to the victims of human rights abuses in East Timor.

There have been allegations of human rights abuses in Aceh and Papua. We raise our concerns with the Indonesian authorities. We believe that a long-term solution to regional conflicts can only be achieved through political negotiation and consultation with the people, and that security forces should operate within the law with strict regard to human rights and if they do not, legal action should be brought against them. The UK has provided human rights training through a number of projects, including the provision of equipment to the Indonesian Human Rights Commission and human rights training for Supreme Court Judges.


1945 - Declaration of Independence. First provisional constitution
1949 - Formal recognition of Independence.
1955 - First national elections; no party secures a majority
1957 - President Soekarno declares martial law
1959-65 - Period of 'Guided Democracy'
1965 - Limited coup by junior army officers against the high command crushed by General Soeharto; thousands of Indonesians died in the aftermath
1967 - Soeharto becomes acting President in March (full President in March 1968)
1975 - Indonesia takes over East Timor
1997 - Start of Asian financial crisis
1998 21 May - Soeharto resigns to be succeeded by his Vice President Habibie
1999 7 June - Free and fair multi-party elections. Megawati Soekarnoputri's Democratic Party (PDI-P) polls 34% of the votes and Golkar (the former ruling party) 22.5%
1999 30 August - East Timor Popular Consultation. 78.5% vote against autonomy and so implicitly for independence
1999 20 September - multinational troops enter East Timor and Indonesia cedes control
1999 20 October - MPR selects Abdurrahman Wahid (popularly known as Gus Dur), Chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama (Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation) as new President
2001 23 July - following a special session of the MPR Wahid is impeached and removed as President. Megawati Soekarnoputri (daughter of Soekarno) becomes Indonesia's 5th President
2001 21 November – Special Autonomy Bill for the province of Papua comes into effect
2001 20 December – The Indonesian government broker an agreement between the warring factions in the Sulawesi to end the fighting
2002 1 January - Special Autonomy Bill for the province of Aceh comes into effect
2002 12 January - The Indonesian government broker an agreement between the warring factions in the Moluccas to end the fighting
2002 10 August - The Indonesian Parliament pass legislation that will enable Indonesians to elect their President and Vice-President for the first time
2002 12 October – Terrorist bomb blast kills over 202, mostly tourists, in Bali night club
2002 9 December – Indonesian Government and Free Aceh Movement (GAM) sign a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement
2003 18 May – Talks in Tokyo between the Indonesian government and GAM to keep the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) on track break down.
2003 19 May – President Megawati declares Martial Law in Aceh, and military action begins
2003 5 August – Terrorist bomb blast kills 11 at the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta
2004 5 April - Indonesian Parliamentary Elections
2004 19 May - Martial Law in Aceh lifted and control returned to civilian administration
2004 5 July – First round of the Presidential Elections
2004 9 September – Terrorist bomb blast kills 9 outside Australian Embassy in Jakarta
2004 20 September – Second round of the Presidential Elections
2004 4 October – Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is announced as the winner of the Presidential elections
2004 26 December – Earthquake and Tsunami kills over 126, 000 people on Aceh and North Sumatra
2005 28 March – Major earthquake off the Island of Nias kills up to 1000 people.
2005 12-16 April – Third round of talks in Helsinki between the Indonesian Government and GAM

Last reviewed – 30 April 2005

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