Indonesia: Location, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Indonesia.



Location--A huge chain of 13,677 islands (6,044 inhabited) situated along the equator between mainland Southeast Asia and Australia. The only land borders are with Malaysia on the island of Borneo, with Australia's possession on the island of New Guinea, and with Portugal's colony on the island of Timor.

Size--782,663 sq. mi. (2,027,087 sq. km.).

Population--135 million: Javanese, 45.4%; Sundanese, 13.6%; Modurese, 6.6%; Riau, 5.2%; Minangkabau, 3.8%; Buginese, 2.8%; Batak, 2.3%; Chinese, 2.3%; Balinese, 1.9%; Achinese, 1.5%; more than 300 other ethnic groups, 14.6%. 89% Muslim, 5% Protestant, 2% Roman Catholic, 1% Hindu, 3% other.

Who Rules--Indonesia calls itself a democracy based on the 5 Pillars (Pantja Sila) state ideology: belief in the one, supreme God; just and civilized humanity; unity of Indonesia; democracy which is guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives; and social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia. The President is elected by the People's Consultative Assembly, a 920-member body which meets every 5 years to determine broad lines of policy for the Government.

Who REALLY Rules--The Indonesian armed forces, whose strength is estimated at 350,000. The Army acquired its initial training from the Japanese during W.W. II, and emerged as a potent political force during the struggle for independence with the Dutch after the war.

President Sukarno was the country's primary political force for Indonesia's 1st 17 years of independence. He could usually easily enforce his rule over most elements of the society, including the Indonesian Communist party (PKI), various Muslim groups, and trade unions. With the armed forces, however, Sukarno had to coax rather than demand.

In 1965, an attempted coup d'etat by procommunist members of the Army gave General Suharto an excuse to rid his organization of what he considered "undesirable" elements. A year later, Suharto was named Army Chief of Staff. He marshaled the conservatives and together they assassinated an estimated 300,000 to one million Indonesians suspected of pro-communist leanings. In February, 1967, Sukarno was forced into retirement--he died in 1970--and Suharto became the Head of Government.

An international consortium of Indonesia's creditors oversees and influences Indonesia's economic policies. The Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI) consists of the world's major capitalist nations plus international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank. (The Soviet Union, which lent vast sums to Indonesia before the 1965 coup, is still a major creditor, but it does not participate in IGGI.) Working through the International Monetary Fund, IGGI has made Indonesia a "debt slave." Rather than encourage debt repayment and independence, IGGI delays due dates for repayment or approves new loans on the condition that Indonesia adopt its recommended economic policies.

A powerful U.S.-trained group of planners formulate economic policy. Called the "Berkeley Mafia," because so many had studied on that particular campus of the University of California, their power depends also upon retaining the good will of the military. The group receives support from the Ford Foundation as well.

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