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Indonesia (/ˌɪndəˈnʒə/ (About this soundlisten) IN-də-NEE-zhə, /-ˈnziə/ -⁠NEE-zee-ə; Indonesian: [ɪndoˈnesia]), officially the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia [reˈpublik ɪndoˈnesia]), is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world's largest island country, with more than seventeen thousand islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres (735,358 square miles), the 14th largest by land area and the 7th largest in combined sea and land area. With over 261 million people, it is the world's 4th most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world's most populous island, is home to more than half of the country's population.

The sovereign state is a presidential, constitutional republic with an elected parliament. It has 34 provinces, of which five have special status. Jakarta, the country's capital, is the second most populous urban area in the world. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and the eastern part of Malaysia. Other neighbouring countries include Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support a high level of biodiversity. The country has abundant natural resources like oil and natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Agriculture mainly produces rice, palm oil, tea, coffee, cacao, medicinal plants, spices and rubber. Indonesia's major trading partners are China, United States, Japan, Singapore and India.

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The Indonesian National Revolution was an armed conflict and diplomatic struggle between Indonesia and the Netherlands; it also included an internal revolution. The struggle took place between the time of Indonesia's declaration of independence in 1945 and the Netherlands' recognition of the country in 1949. One of the largest revolutions of the twentieth century, the struggle involved sporadic but bloody armed conflict and two major international diplomatic interventions. The Indonesians ultimately won though international persuasion as much as they did through armed conflicts on Java and other islands. The revolution destroyed the previous colonial administration's rule and dismantled many of the local feudal systems. Tremendous energies and aspirations were created amongst Indonesians. It did not, however, significantly improve the economic or political fortune of the majority, and hopes for democracy were dashed within a decade. (Read more...)

Selected biography


General Sudirman (1916–50) was the military commander of Indonesian forces during the country's fight for independence from the Dutch in the 1940s. Born in Rembang, Central Java, he studied at the Dutch Native School in Purwokerto, and then at a Muhammadiyah teacher training college in Surakarta. He worked as a teacher at the Muhammadiyah school in Cilacap. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War II, Sudirman trained to become a battalion commander in PETA, the "homeland defense" army promoted by the Japanese. On 12 November 1945 he was elected Commander-in-chief of the Army, a position he held until his death. During much of the next five years he was sick with tuberculosis, but led several guerrilla actions against the Dutch. He led the resistance to the Dutch attack on Yogyakarta, then the Republic of Indonesia's headquarters, in December 1948. (Read more...)

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Balinese women performing the legong dance

Photographer: Yves Picq; License: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA

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