Bali: a strategic Entrance Gate to Indonesia
A Glimpse into the Republic of Indonesia
Being the largest archipelagic country in the world, Indonesia is composed of more than 17,000 islands with a territorial stretch over 5,000 kilometers and total area of 2,000,000 km2. Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (formerly Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Moluccas and Papua are the main islands. There are also small Sunda Islands that comprise Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores and Western part of Timor. Among these huge numbers of islands, only about 7,000 are inhabited, while the others are uninhabited as they are largely peaks of rock and many without name.
Besides, Indonesia is also the forth most populated country in the world after the United States with a total number of population over 247.5 million people, according to the latest national census in 2010, consisting of 310 ethnic groups. Java and Sumatra are two islands where over 55% of the total populations are concentrated. More than 740 languages and local dialects are spoken throughout the country. Since its independence in 1945, the Indonesian language, Bahasa Indonesia that derives from the Malay language was adopted as official language.
From the cultural and religious backgrounds, Indonesia is a nation of unbelievable diversity. It is also a country with the biggest Muslim population in the world. Other members of minority faiths such as Christians, Hindus and Buddhists are also recognized by the Constitution and live hand in hand to one another. Considering this extraordinary diversity, the state has developed a specific policy in order to build up a national identity over the multitude of different ethnic groups. And this political breakthrough then gave birth to a popular national slogan "Unity in Diversity "(Bhinéka Tunggal Ika, in Old Javanese).
After being dominated by the Dutch colony over 350 years, Indonesia, spearheaded by Soekarno and Hatta, has finally declared its independence on 17 August 1945, when the Second World War was underway especially in Asia and Europe. However, it took 4 years in order that the new country reinforced and consolidated a political movement and social revolution. In the late of 1949, the Dutch and their allies officially recognized the Indonesian independence and finally left the country. Since then, Indonesia has managed to bond the country and to streamline the independence by establishing a new government of the Republic of Indonesia.
After six decades of independence, Indonesia still has a lot of things to do, especially in the field of socio-economy and socio-politic. Over 30 years under an authoritarian regime that was less sensitive towards the former founding fathers’ aspiration, Indonesia has achieved a number of progress to the extent to which the country's developments have much been supported by the foreign loans leading to the proliferation of corruption in every level of the bureaucracy. This phenomenon has raised a profound disappointment among the people turning into a strong demand for a political and economic change. Pioneered by young people and students, this massive claim has resulted in the resignation of President Soeharto in 1998, which had been in power since 1966. Since then, a new chapter of the country began and a new reform has been started that later was known as “Indonesian total reform.”
After 6 years in the period of transition indicated by the change of President several times (B.J. Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri), Indonesia has definitely carried out for the first time in the history a presidential election directly by the people in 2004 that led Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (known as: SBY) to the position of the sixth President of Indonesia. Today Indonesia is a nation that strives to build up a democracy with all the difficulties related to the heritage of the former regime. Economic development is a fundamental factor in building this democracy, and tourism is one of the driving forces behind this development. With all its potentials - both natural and cultural resources - Indonesia has so much uncovered treasures that deserve to be explored.