Indonesia, officially The Republic of Indonesia, is the worlds largest archipelago spanning 5,120 kilometers (3,200 miles) from east to west along the Equator and 1,760 kilometers (1,100 miles) from north to south. Its total expanse is roughly equivalent to that of the United States. Indonesia is comprised of 13,667 islands (6,000 inhabited) located between the continents of Asia and Australia. The total land area of Indonesia is 1,826,440 square kilometers (705,188 square miles) which is slightly less than three times the area of the state of Texas.
Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia, Brunei Darusalam and Papua New Guinea and sea borders with Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia. Indonesia is an equatorial, volcanic archipelago. The topography of most of the islands consists of costal areas with beaches and coral reefs, interior areas of jungle, rainforest and mangrove swamps punctuated by active and inactive volcanoes and lush, cool hill country.
The climate in Indonesia is equatorial - hot and humid in the low elevations and jungles but cooler in the highlands. Temperatures generally range from 21oC (70oF) to 33oC (90oF). Humidity ranges from 60 to 90 percent. Indonesia's "wet season" lasts from November through April and its "dry season" from May through October, with slight variations in regional sub-climates. Annual precipitation levels in Indonesia range from 200 cm (79 in) to 380 cm (150 in) depending upon region.
The population of Indonesia in 1994 was about 197 million persons making it the world's fourth most populous nation after China, India and the United States. The annual growth rate in Indonesia was 1.9 percent during the 1980's. This growth rate has decreased slightly over the past few years as the government of Indonesia has encouraged an increased use of birth control.
The official language of Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia or Indonesian. Bahasa Indonesia is spoken by most Indonesians as a native or second language. Bahasa Indonesia is the language used in all educational institutions in the country. There are, however, at least 300 distinct languages and cultures in Indonesia with countless local dialects. Some older Indonesians do not speak Bahasa Indonesia, but their numbers are shrinking as the educational system in Indonesia becomes more able to meet the demands of the population.
The people of Indonesia are largely of Malay stock with varying degrees of Mongolian, Chinese, Indian, Southeast Asian, and Aboriginal influence. Similar to their ethnic diversity, the Indonesian people have a significant number of religious and ritualistic rites and practices. Officially, 85 percent of Indonesians are classified as Islamic, 10 percent Christian, 2 percent Hindu, and 3 percent are either Buddhist or Animist. These classifications do not clearly reflect the religious structure of most of the Indonesian population. While Islam is the largest and official religion of the nation, most of the people maintain ancient animist religious beliefs and practices. Most of the Islam practiced in Indonesia is not characterized by the devout nature of Arab cultures.
Ninety percent of current Indonesian children attend primary schools, and 86.3 percent of the young are literate. It is very difficult to classify the literacy of the older Indonesian population as many of the languages and dialects may or may not have significant written or recorded conventions and structures. There are 49 state universities and over 200 private universities in Indonesia.
It is impossible to classify, in a single document, all of the peoples and cultures of Indonesia. The diversity of cultures is extraordinary. The Javanese and Sundanese of Java, the Bataks and Achenese of Sumatra, the tribal villages of Sulawesi and the stone age Dani tribes of Irian Jaya as well as the hundreds of other ethnic and cultural groups all have centuries old traditions, languages and lifestyles. There are many facets of the Indonesian life which are, however, consistent between many of the sub cultures. The Island of Java is the most populous of the Indonesian islands with roughly 90 million inhabitants, and is representative of many of the cultural features of the nation of Indonesia. This cultural representativeness is due in part to the extensive migration of Indonesians from the outer islands. Much of the discussion of the land of Indonesia to follow will focus on Java and the major centers of culture and population located therein.
Major cities in Indonesia include:
Any discussion of the history of Indonesia must begin with the recognition of many an anthropologists' belief that Southeast Asia was one of the great prehistoric cradles of human cultural development. Some of the oldest dated human remains known were found on the islands of Java and Sumatra. Thousands of stone tools dating from 500,000 to 250,000 years old have been found in and around the Baksoka river near Pacitan in south-central Java. Similar tools have also been found in the Lesser Sunda Islands of Flores and Timor. Evidence of human burials and cremations as much as 20,000 years old has been found on some islands. Cave paintings as old as 10,000 years have been found in southern Sulawesi and in New Guinea. Pottery bowls dating from circa 3,000 B.C. have been found in Sulawesi and Timor. Stone statues, pyramids, and other monoliths approximately 2,000 years old have been found on many Islands. The most striking of these are located in southern Sumatra.
During the 2nd century A.D. sophisticated Southeast Asian civilizations emerged based largely on the Indian cultural structure. Many Indonesian kingdoms of this era constructed fabulous Hindu and Buddhist temples such as Prambanan and Borobudur, both in central Java. Knowledge of these kingdoms is limited. Their origins and the sources of their substantial knowledge of Indian culture are not understood. Early hypotheses regarding the understanding of Indian culture centered around the belief that there was a massive influx of Indian settlers and merchants. This supposition has not, however, been born out by any significant anthropological evidence. A series of Hindu kings ruled much of Indonesia from central Java during the 5th through 9th centuries A.D. During the 10th century A.D. the center of rule moved to eastern Java. No satisfactory explanation has been given for this move.
Of all the regions in Indonesia, Aceh, in northwestern Sumatra, is the first to have documented contact with surrounding nations. Chinese chronicles from the 6th century A.D. speak of a kingdom on the northern tip of Sumatra named Po-Li. Several Arabic writings of the early ninth century, and later inscriptions found in India, also mention the area. In 1292 Marco Polo visited Sumatra on a voyage from China to Persia and reported that on the northern part of Sumatra there were as many as six trading ports including Ferlec, Samudera and Lambri.
Islam is believed to have reached Aceh somewhere between the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. and the first Islamic kingdom, Perlak was established in 804 A.D. Other Islamic kingdoms which followed include: Samudera Pasai in 1042, Tamiah in 1184, Aceh in 1205 and Darussalam in 1511. As a result, many Asian and Arabic traders sought to avoid the Straits of Malacca between Sumatra and Malaysia and instead frequented Aceh's port. The economic growth resulting from trade initiated Aceh's dominance in trade and politics in the northern parts of Sumatra. Aceh's influence reached its climax between 1610 and 1640.
The introduction of Islam to Indonesia was accomplished primarily through Arabic economic expansion along the major trade routes of the Indies. The Spice Islands in eastern Indonesia, today called Maluku, were a trade destination for central and southern Asians for centuries. These islands, rich in spices and natural wealth, initiated exploration from all over the world. The expeditions of Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, and others were aimed at finding new routes to this region of the world.
Europeans first passed through seaports in Southeast Asia during the 13th century. Europeans began to have a significant influence in Indonesia during the 16th century. The Portuguese first arrived in Indonesia in 1509. The Portuguese had a brief period of influence, but they quickly became one of many competing regional powers. All but one of the Portuguese holdings in Indonesia was overtaken by the Dutch and the British in the 17th century. Portuguese Timor remained a territory of Portugal until the 20th century. This region is still the subject of some disagreement between Portugal and Indonesia.
With Aceh's decline, and the dwindled influence of the Portuguese, the British and Dutch both started to vie for influence. In 1824 the London Treaty was signed, giving the Dutch control over all British possessions in Sumatra in return for a Dutch surrender of establishments in India and Singapore. Dutch attempts to subdue the recalcitrant Acehnese resulted in a long drawn out struggle. The Aceh War, which lasted intermittently from 1873 to 1942, was the longest war ever fought by Holland, costing the Dutch more than 10,000 lives.
Dutch influence in Indonesia commenced in 1596 and remains the most significant European influence in the country. Dutch interest in Indonesia was primarily economic but was marked by frequent and sometimes bloody conflicts particularly in Sumatra and Java. The Dutch were, however, able to achieve control over the spice trade in the East Indies during the 17th Century. The center of Dutch influence in Indonesia was the West Javan city of Batavia. Batavia is now the capitol city of Indonesia and has been renamed Jakarta.
Present day Jakarta traces its origins to 1570 when it was named Jayakarta (City of Great Victory) by Fatahillah of the neighboring Sultanate of Banten. The name was later changed to Batavia after the Dutch destroyed Jayakarta and built their own city as a center of trade and government. Batavia was renamed Jakarta after Indonesia achieved independence from the Dutch in 1945. Jakarta is now the Indonesian center of government, business and industry. The city spreads over an area of 656 square km (410 square miles) and has a population of over 8 million.
During the late 18th and 19th centuries, the viability of the Dutch spice trade decreased markedly. During this period uprisings in Java nearly overthrew Dutch rule and crippled the Dutch economy in Indonesia. This economic difficulty renewed Dutch interest in the cultivation of natural resources in Indonesia. The Dutch instituted a strange tax on all land in Java. This tax was not payable in money or crops but in labor. Thirty-three percent of all labor expended by the Javanese was to be dedicated to the Dutch. This system quickly turned into a system of plantations and forced labor. The latter half of the 19th century was marked by Dutch military suppression of Indonesian laborers. This suppression resulted in the virtual enslavement of most of the Javanese peasant laborers.
Because of Dutch oppression, Indonesian nationalism began to grow significantly in the early 20th century. Growing numbers of Indonesians were receiving Dutch educations and many young students became dedicated to the betterment of their countrymen. Ironically the Dutch education provided much of the intellectual basis of Indonesian nationalism. In 1927, a recently graduated engineer by the name of Sukarno founded the first major political party with Indonesian independence as its goal. In 1928, at the second all-Indies student conference, the concept of a single Indonesian nation was proclaimed in the sumpa pemuda (youth pledge). By 1930 Sukarno's Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI) had over 10,000 members. Sukarno was arrested for "openly treasonous statements against the state." Sukarno was tried and imprisoned and eventually exiled to distant islands along with many other student leaders. Sukarno remained in exile for ten years.
In January, 1942 Java was invaded by the Japanese who rapidly subdued the Dutch. Indonesians were jubilant at the time of the Dutch defeat largely because of the prophesy of a 12th century Javanese king named Jayabaya. Jayabaya predicted that despotic white men would one day rule Java for many years but they would be driven out by the arrival of yellow men from the north. It was predicted that the yellow men would remain for one season of crops and that Java would be freed forever. Indonesians initially viewed the Japanese invasion as the fulfillment of the prophecy. It soon became apparent that the Japanese had come to exploit the Indies and not to free them. The Japanese violently put down peasant uprisings which resulted from famines caused by the Japanese export of rice crops. The Japanese exploited much of the population and resources of Indonesia but also relied on Indonesians to assume many of the positions previously held by Dutchmen. Many of the exiled and imprisoned nationalist leaders were freed and encouraged to cooperate with the Japanese during the occupation.
In late 1944 it was becoming apparent that Japan was losing the war. The Japanese promised Indonesia independence in an attempt to maintain order and cooperation. On August 9, 1945 the Japanese commander for Southeast Asia appointed Sukarno chairman, and Mohammed Hatta vice-chairman, of the preparatory committee for Indonesian independence. On August 15, 1945 Japan surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. After two days of discussion, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed merdeka (independence) on August 17, 1945. With the minor exception that three crops had been harvested, Jayabaya's prophecy had been realized.
The following months were chaotic as the Indonesians struggled to construct a government and the Dutch tried to regain positions of influence. In January, 1949 the UN security council ordered the Dutch to withdraw their forces and negotiate a settlement. Dutch influence in Indonesia rapidly decreased and on August 17, 1950 all previous governments were swept away by the new government of the Republic of Indonesia. Although many obstacles remained for the emerging republic, there was euphoria throughout Indonesia following the withdrawal of Dutch forces. Many economic and social problems remained, but the Indonesian people believed that nothing was impossible now that their destiny was in their own hands. The enthusiasm with which the Indonesian celebrate their independence day is a testament to their dedication and the belief that they can accomplish anything as a nation.
Sukarno became the first president of Indonesia and over the next decade was forced to deal with a number of social problems. In 1959 Sukarno declared the beginning of a "Guided Democracy". Under this political system power was focused in the hands of the President and his nationalism was the primary focus of his government. Sukarno's view of a strong and independent Indonesia appealed to many and he came to be seen as a father figure and unifying influence. Sukarno was not, however, a great day-to-day administrator and the governmental infrastructure faltered during the early sixties. This internal lack of discipline led to an attempted coup. This would be the most significant event in Sukarno's political career since the independence of the forties. On October 1, 1965 a group of radical young army officers kidnapped and executed six leading generals under Sukarno. The leader of the Army Strategic Reserve, General Suharto, assumed command of the army and halted the attempted coup. Sukarno subsequently bestowed a wide range of powers to General Suharto.
Suharto declared Martial law and rapidly restored order in the government and the country. In 1968 Suharto was installed as Indonesia's second president. Suharto quickly squelched increasing communist influences and restructured foreign policy to foster relations with the United States and the West while severing ties with China and the Soviet Union. Suharto then turned his attention to the economy of Indonesia. Suharto's administration has been characterized by political stability and economic growth. Suharto remains the president of Indonesia today and the government is currently focussing on the development of Indonesia's rich natural resources and the development of export oriented manufacturing industries.
Indonesia is currently working to foster political and trade relationships with Japan, The United States, and the European Economic Community. Indonesia is seeking investment in industrial and natural resource development. Indonesia is also seeking investments from the West and Japan which can provide the infrastructure for continued economic growth. Indonesia is interested in investment but is leery of granting too much control over resources to any outside country. This reluctance is a result of the centuries of colonialism and the relatively young age of the country as an independent entity. Indonesia is fervently anti-communist and does not, therefore, have any significant relationships with China or the former Soviet republics. Indonesia is a member of ASEAN, OPEC, Group of 77, GATT, the United Nations and 40 other international organizations. Indonesia currently has no major disputes either politically or boundary related with the exception of some Portuguese rights issues in Timor.
Indonesian society is characterized by unity and consensus. These are among the most valued principles in Indonesia. Indonesian relationships are based upon traditional family and community structures. Loyalty and cooperation among family members is highly valued and this spirit of mutual understanding and assistance is extended into the community. Indonesians tend to be aware of their individual positions and roles in the family and community and attend to their responsibilities with enthusiasm. The dedication of Indonesians to common goals is apparent in even the most poverty stricken areas.
The Department of Social Affairs supervises all governmental social welfare programs. Subsidized housing for the aged, orphanages, and schools for the handicapped are supported throughout the country. Subsidized housing in urban areas is also increasing in popularity. Much of the need for social welfare is, however, provided by individual communities and families. Public health care is increasingly government supported and community health centers have been introduced in even the most remote areas. Through such efforts modern medicine is gradually replacing traditional methods of tribal doctors and the use of herbal remedies. These practices are still common in many areas, however.
There is significant economic inequity in Indonesia but there is relatively little strife between social classes because of the premium placed on harmony. Ten percent of the Indonesian population receives about 34 percent of the national wealth with the poorest 20 percent controlling less than 7 percent of the total wealth. Roughly half of the population lives in absolute poverty. With the exception of the island of Java many of the islands have tribal and ancient social structures in which individual wealth is not of paramount importance, however. In many of these cultures community prosperity is valued above individual wealth.
One of the most striking features of the Indonesian social structure is the lack of crime. The crime rate for all offenses in 1992 was 152 offenses per 100,000 persons (5,664 per 100,000 persons in the U.S.A.). This is among the ten lowest crime rates in the world. Half of the crime which does exist is theft or fraud with less than 15 offenses per 100,000 persons being murder, rape and violent crime. There is an official government judicial structure but many crimes are still dealt with by community leaders and organizations.
The diet of most Indonesians features rice as the staple food. Vegetables, fish and seafood, poultry, coconut, and fresh fruits compose the balance of Indonesian diets. In costal areas seaweed is a common vegetable and garnish. The variety of dishes and types of cuisine is consistent with the diversity of the people of Indonesia. Most regions and islands have distinctive styles of food preparation but the ingredients are fairly consistent. Common features of many Indonesian foods are the generous use of santan (coconut milk) and chilies and hot peppers. Most snacks and deserts consist of fresh fruits or rice and cane sugar confections. In some of the major cities Dutch influence has resulted in the availability of European cakes and confections. Tea, both hot and cold, is the most common drink with coffee and fruit juices being widely consumed as well.
Education for most Indonesian youths is compulsory between the ages of seven and thirteen. Education for older students is available in most of the major population centers. There are over 200 colleges and Universities in Indonesia. Approximately 86 percent of the young are literate. About 1 percent of the gross national product is spent on education.
Daily newspaper and magazine circulation is approximately seven million. There are 97 daily newspapers, 65 weekly newspapers, and 25 bi-weekly or monthly newspapers, There are 66 weekly and monthly magazines published in Indonesia. There are three English-language newspapers published in Jakarta. Radio Republik Indonesia, the national radio network, has stations throughout the archipelago. Television is entirely state controlled. There is one station directly run by the government and one privately run station. Production of national feature films totaled 340 titles in 1990.
The dividing lines between culture, tradition, religion and daily life in Indonesia are difficult, if not impossible, to establish. The most clearly cultural features of the society are the dances and wayang puppet shows and the music performed by gamelan orchestras on drums, gongs, and traditional anklung and xylophone like instruments. The wayang kulit of Java is performed with leather puppets held by a puppeteer who narrates the story of one of the famous episodes of the Hindu epics, the Mahabharata or the Ramayana. The wayang kulit is performed against a white screen with a lantern in the background. The back-lighting casts shadows of the characters on the screen which are viewed by spectators. The Wayang Golek of West Java is based on the same concept but uses wooden instead of leather puppets. In central Java, the wooden puppet theater traditionally depicts stories derived from popular folk legends revolving around the spread of Islam. There are other forms of puppet shows such as the Wayang Klitik and Wayang Krucil each having its own tradition. The oldest form of shadow play is probably the Wayang Beber, in which the dalang or puppeteer simply unrolls a scroll bearing the scenes and figures of the story while he delivers a narration accompanied by a gamelan orchestra. A popular contemporary form of wayang theater is the Wayang Wong, in which actors and dancers represent the characters in the story. There are thousands of dances and performance arts practiced in Indonesia. The Balinese dances and Hindu epics are some of the largest tourist attractions in Indonesia. The Wayang epics and the dances and rituals of all of the Islands are steeped in traditions and religious ceremonies that are, in many cases, as old as recorded human history. Like most of the performing arts of the Orient, dance in Indonesia is believed by many scholars to have had its beginning in religious worship. Even today, many dances are considered sacred or can be traced back to their early spiritual associations. Among these are not only the temple dances of Bali, but also dances such as the Bedoyo Ketawang of Solo, performed only on rare occasions. Some of these ancient rituals are in peril of becoming lost because younger generations do not have dancers willing to learn and perform them. Rigid discipline and artistry mark the dances of Java and Bali. Those of Sumatra, Maluku and most of the other islands are characterized by their gracefulness and charm.
Musical traditions are as diverse as the population. The one musical expression best known and most widely associated with the country is the gamelan. A complete gamelan orchestra may consist of as many as eighty instruments. A variety of metal and bamboo instruments, drums, a zither (celempung), a rebab two-stringed upright lute, a flute and a few other instruments complete the ensemble. The most elaborate form of gamelan is that of Central Java (Yogyakarta and Surakarta). West Java has its own gamelan ensemble, usually simpler than the Javanese with more stress on the flute, drums and the bonang family of horizontally placed kettle gongs.
The crafts of Indonesia vary in both medium and form. As a whole the people of Indonesia are artistic by nature and express themselves on canvas, wood, metals, clay and stone. Wood carvings and traditional batik fabric are some of the most traditional art forms. The batik process of waxing and dyeing originated in Java centuries ago and classic designs have been modified with modern trends in both patterns and technology. There are several centers of Batik in Java, the major ones being Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Pekalongan and Cirebon. Batik is also produced in some other areas. In Bali distinctive local designs are incorporated into batik and traditional paintings. Other provinces, such as Timor, produce hand-woven cloths of gold and silver threads, and silks or cottons with intricate designs. Silver work from Yogyakarta, Sumatra, South Sulawesi and Bali is some of the most intricate and elaborate produced anywhere in the world.
Elaborate temples, monuments and sculptures of stone are located on many islands. The Central Javan temples of Borobudur and Prambanan have been described as wonders of the world. The kraton (palace) of the sultans in Yogyakarta is representative of the magnificent architecture and social structure which existed as early as the 12th century A.D. in Central Java. Borobudur is a pyramid like structure located near Yogyakarta which is elaborately decorated with 504 statues of Buddha and 1300 pictorial reliefs carved in stone. Borobudur covers an area of 15,129 square meters (159,800 square feet), is 42 meters (136 feet) tall and is constructed out of 55,000 cubic meters (1,890,000 cubic feet) of stone. Borobudur was constructed in the 8th century A.D. The 1300 stone reliefs chronicle the history of the world according to the Buddhist faith. Borobudur is one of the most magnificent, but is by no means the only, grand ancient monument in Indonesia.
The principles of gotong royong, musyawarah, and mufakat which were discussed earlier are some of the most pervasive traditions to be found in Indonesia. Derived from rural life, these principles are still very prevalent in community life throughout the country. Though the official legal system is based on the old Dutch penal code, social life as well as rites of passage are founded on customary or adat law which differs between regions. Adat law has a binding impact on Indonesian life and it has been instrumental in maintaining the social structure in most communities.
There are approximately 300 languages spoken throughout the islands of Indonesia, each having numerous local dialects and variations. Bahasa Indonesia is the official language and is closely related to Bahasa Malayu or Malay. Bahasa Indonesia is written in Roman script and based on European orthography. Bahasa Indonesia is used as the language for all newspapers (except for three English papers) and compulsory education in Indonesia. Colleges and universities use Bahasa Indonesia and some English. Roughly 80 to 90 percent of the population speaks Bahasa Indonesia.
The origins of Malay and its use in Indonesia are unclear and apparently precede recorded Indonesian history. The arrival of Islam in Indonesia served to spread the language throughout the Islands somewhat. Arabic traders used the language regularly and augmented it with some Arabic words and structures. Bahasa Malayu was in widespread use in Indonesia by the time Indonesia achieved independence in 1945. At this time Bahasa Malayu was selected as the official language because of its widespread use and its use in nearby Malaysia. In 1947 an official spelling system was adopted and the language was officially named Bahasa Indonesia. The spelling system was revised in 1972 along with some pronunciations. The official language remains as revised in 1972. Some historical places, such as the ancient capital of Yogyakarta, maintain their old spellings for traditions sake. Many family names also continue to use unofficial spellings and pronunciations.
While Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, local dialects are still in widespread use, particularly in rural areas. Javanese and Sundanese are used widely in central and western Java and are both influenced by and influence the Bahasa Indonesia used in those regions. Many day to day conversations are carried on in these languages. Similar use of local dialects exists on most Islands.
In most tourist destination areas English is the most widely used foreign language. Dutch is still spoken and understood in the bigger cities and French is increasing in popularity at the better hotels and restaurants.
The ethnicity of Indonesians varies greatly. The most straight forward way to classify the ethnicity of an Indonesian is by the island or group of islands from which they come. Many of these groups have not been studied or classified. The large Islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi all have multiple ethnic groups. The largest single ethnic group in Indonesia is the Javanese. Roughly 45 percent of all Indonesians are Javanese. The Javanese live primarily in eastern and central Java. The Sundanese live primarily in western Java and account for 15 to 20 percent of the population. Approximately 7.5 percent of the population are Madurese from eastern Java and the Island of Madura. Another 7 to 8 percent of the population are costal Malays. The balance of Indonesians belong to hundreds of smaller ethnic and tribal groups.
The farmers of Java and Bali are predominantly Muslim but maintain many traditions and religious rituals from Hinduism, Buddhism and native animist beliefs. The costal Balinese are the most purely Hindu groups in Indonesia. The tribes of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Irian Jaya have strong kinship bonds, animistic religions and clan-oriented social structures.
General classifications of the ethnicity and religions of any group of Indonesians can be very misleading. Within most ethnic and social groups there are a great many traditions and religious rituals which are as much a part of daily life as work and family. While many Indonesians have an understanding of Islam and follow many of its practices they continue to exercise religious beliefs which are ancient and unique to a particular area. In many cases, adherence to local traditions is equated with ethnicity. An example would be the Javanese and Sundanese of Java. These groups consider themselves to be of different ethnicity even though they come from the same anthropological group.
Indonesian culture is based on honor and respect for the individual. All greetings and interactions should display respect for others. People usually greet each other with a slight head bow. A more pronounced bow of the head and slight bow at the waist is appropriate when meeting an older person. The depth and length of a bow connote respect. If a person has a prestigious title, such as doctor or professor it, is used in conversation and when that person is being addressed. Other terms of respect, which are used when addressing some one older or of a higher position than the speaker, are pak or bapak and saudara for addressing men and ibu for addressing women. Pak and bapak are literally translated as "father" but are used much like the English word "mister" with bapak being the more formal of the two. Saudara is a term of more respect and formality than pak. Saudara is literally translated as "kinsman" but is used much like the English word "sir". Ibu is the female counterpart to pak. Literally translated as "mother" it is used in speech much like the English words "ma'am" and "lady".
Indonesians will occasionally shake hands when meeting for the first time, congratulating someone, or when someone is leaving for a long trip. Otherwise, it is unusual for people to shake hands. Indonesians will often offer a handshake to westerners, particularly in Jakarta and centers of commerce.
It is inappropriate for men and women to touch in public unless they are married or are shaking hands in an introduction. Public displays of affection between men and women, such as kissing, hugging, and arms around waists and shoulders, are not acceptable. It is considered disrespectful to touch a person on the top of the head or to touch a persons hair.
Business interactions follow the Indonesian principles of harmony and respect like personal and family interactions. Typical business meetings are formal and proper. Indonesians enjoy ceremonial events. Many gatherings, both business and social, have a ceremonial air. Respect is paid to those conducting the meeting and a significant amount of ceremonial interaction may precede the beginning of business negotiations. It would not be unusual for the opening and closing meetings of a business dealing to be entirely ceremonial. the degree to which this is true depends upon the scope and importance of the business being conducted. In all cases the operations of businesses follow a markedly hierarchical structure and appropriate respect is yielded to persons according to their position.
Harmony and consensus are of paramount importance in all Indonesian interactions. In business dealings this affects the nature of negotiations. The primary focus of negotiations is the resolution of differences and the reaching of a mutually agreeable solution. The importance of a persons opinion or input is commensurate with that persons position and degree of authority. Necessary disagreements are rarely voiced in public and criticism is handled privately. The desire to defer authority to senior persons strongly outweighs a persons desire to voice individual opinions. Indonesians seldom say "no" in discussion but prefer to say belum, which is translated as not yet, or kurang - not quite. Indonesians will always take time to hear and respect the opinions of others. Business negotiations in Indonesia are likely to require much more time and care than they do in the U.S. Many Americans may feel that this time is wasted and that Indonesian businessmen are unwilling to make decisions. The time spent in consideration of alternatives is, however, an integral part of the Indonesian negotiating and decision making process. Indonesians consider many westerners to be too quick to anger, to concerned with themselves and to committed to the idea that "time is money."
In conversation it is typical for Indonesians to acknowledge the statements of the speaker frequently. Most statements will be responded to using the affirmative responses ya or uh-uh. A head nod is also frequently used to acknowledge the speaker. These affirmative responses do not necessarily imply agreement but are rather an acknowledgement that the statement of the speaker was heard and considered to be important.
Public dress is very individual but is consistently modest. A shirt and tie are appropriate for businessmen but a suit coat is usually not worn except for very formal occasions such as a wedding. Traditional batik shirts and solid slacks are also appropriate semi formal dress. Skirts of greater than knee length and conservative blouses would be appropriate dress for businesswomen. Sarongs, which are batik wrapped skirts, are worn by both men and women throughout much of Indonesia.
Gestures are not used widely except to summon children and taxi's or becaks (a becak is a pedi-cab). The left hand should not be used to shake hands, touch others or eat. Standing with one's hands in pockets or on one's hips is considered defiant and arrogant and should be avoided. Pointing in general is considered disrespectful. Leg crossing is generally considered inappropriate, but if they are crossed, one knee should be directly over the other. Yawning should also be avoided, but if one must yawn, the right hand should be used to cover the mouth.
On public transportation or in crowded seating areas people are expected to give their seats to the elderly and men are expected to offer their seats to women.
Individual workers tend to be very aware of their responsibilities and attend to them diligently. Indonesian workers are, however, unlikely to perform any duties which are not explicitly stated as their responsibility. Respect for authority is very important to Indonesians and they will, therefore, do anything their superiors require of them. In group working situations the tasks of decision making and organization are always deferred to the most senior person present. Because most decisions are reached after group input and discussion it may appear to westerners that everyone involved agrees upon the outcome. This may not be the case. The consensus reached in most situations is the decision of the leader. Subordinates agree with the leaders opinion out of deference and a belief that the leaders position and experience best qualify him to make judgements.
In rural and agrarian social groups the management style is very consistent with the desire for harmony and the respect of senior persons. In these environments leaders seldom need to be firm or strict. An interesting contrast to this relatively tranquil environment is the operation of new industries and modern manufacturing. In these environments management of laborers is much more harsh and authoritarian. This may be due to western and Japanese involvement in the development of most modern industries in Indonesia.
The economy of Indonesia is becoming increasingly export based but Indonesia is still classified as a very poor country. The gross national product of Indonesia is about $85 billion with the per capita GNP being about $430. The per capita annual earnings are significantly higher for many of the people living in the major population and industrial centers. Agriculture and the fishing industry have historically been the largest single contributor to the GNP accounting for about 26% of the total. Rice, rubber, sugar cane, palm oil, coffee, tea, coconuts and fruits are among the major Indonesian agricultural products. Indonesia's largest export is crude oil but manufactured products are the fastest growing segment of the export economy. Timber and textiles are also significant export commodities in Indonesia. Indonesia's largest export markets are Japan and the U.S. These two countries purchase 60 percent of Indonesia's exports. Japan, the U.S. and the European Community are the largest importers to Indonesia. Slightly less than 60 percent of Indonesia's imports come from these entities. Indonesia receives approximately $25 billion in foreign aid annually. Most of this aid comes from Japan and the U.S.
Although the industrial sector of the economy is gradually gaining importance as a result of conscientious government policies, Indonesia is still predominantly agrarian. Between 17 and 25 percent of the land in Indonesia is in agricultural use. Major agricultural products for domestic consumption and export include rice, corn, cassava, soybeans, timber, rubber, palm-oil and the various spices for which Indonesia has been known for centuries.
Indonesia has some of the richest timber resources in the world and the largest concentration of tropical hardwoods. The total area of state-controlled forests is approximately 12.9 million hectares. Meranti, a variety of mahogany, constitutes about 56 percent of the entire timber export. Other exported woods include: ramin, agathis, teak, pine, rattan and bamboo.
The country of Indonesia has maritime and fishing rights in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and South China Sea. An enormous variety of seafood including shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, and many varieties of fish are caught year round. Indonesian fish and seafood production totals about 3 million metric tons annually. Another 2 million metric tons of meat and dairy products are produced each year.
Indonesia is rich in precious metals, oil, natural gas and other minerals. Indonesia produces 92 million metric tons of crude oil and 37 million metric tons of natural gas annually. Coal, iron ore, bauxite, silver, copper. lead, manganese, titanium, uranium, zinc, and tin are also found in significant quantities. A large percentage of Indonesian oil and mineral deposits are found off-shore. As a result much of the Indonesian oil and mineral wealth remains unexplored. With increasing government support, Indonesia is rapidly becoming more able to locate and use many of its mineral deposits. Oil and gas contribute 50 percent of total export earnings and 40 percent of the government revenues. Pertamina, the state-owned oil company has the sole rights to oil and gas production in Indonesia.
The Indonesian labor force is predominantly unskilled. The labor force currently consists of about 70 million persons but is growing rapidly as many of the outer islands become more involved in economic growth. Around 70 percent of the labor force is agricultural. Ten percent of the labor force is works in manufacturing, 4 percent in construction and 3 percent work in the transportation and communication fields. The manufacturing and commercial labor forces are growing as foreign and domestic investments in industry and infrastructure increase.
In addition to the agricultural and mineral production, there are a number of manufacturing industries in Indonesia. Until recently most of these industries did not manufacture durable goods and export worthy consumer products. Notable exceptions to this are the traditional arts and crafts of Indonesia. Production of these goods can obviously not be classified as modern manufacturing. Other Indonesian industries include the manufacture of iron and steel, aluminum, cement, tires, paper, cigarettes and beer. In recent years Japanese and western investment in Indonesia has supported an increase in the manufacture of textiles, electronic appliances and automobiles.
The aviation industry in Indonesia has been growing and the state owned Indonesian Aircraft Industry (IPTN) produces two types of fixed wing aircraft and some helicopters. New aircraft production facilities are building products for both domestic use and for export. Indonesia maintains a liberal foreign exchange system and has few restrictions on trade abroad and, in general, freely allows conversions to and from foreign currencies. The current industrial growth rate in Indonesia is about 11.5 percent.
Tourism is rapidly becoming one of the more important industries. The Indonesian government has supported tourism by investing in the transportation and communication infrastructure and by maintaining liberal border and entrance policies. Currently visas are not required for tourist and business stays of up to 2 months.
Indonesia's largest export commodities are oil and natural gas. These items account for half of all Indonesian export value. Other large export commodities are timber, textiles, rubber, coffee, spices and seafood. Annual export revenues in Indonesia are around 26 billion dollars.
Indonesia currently imports most of its durable manufactured goods, automobiles, machinery and chemical products. Until recently, Indonesia was one of the worlds largest importers of food products, particularly rice. Investment in the agricultural infrastructure of the nation has, however, left Indonesia virtually self sufficient with regard to food products.
The most rapidly growing import markets in Indonesia are industrial machinery and automobiles. The rapid growth of Indonesian industry has resulted in a great need for industrial machinery and construction equipment. Indonesia does not currently have an industrial establishment capable of making significant amounts of heavy machinery. The demand for automobiles is rising rapidly in Indonesia. Economic and industrial development has increased the demand for trucks and heavy vehicles. A few years ago bank loans and credit for private citizens became legal. As a result the number of persons purchasing expensive manufactured goods, particularly automobiles, has risen sharply. The demand for busses for public transportation in urban areas has risen significantly in recent years as well. The vast majority of automobiles in Indonesia are manufactured in Japan.
Indonesia's transportation infrastructure is growing rapidly to keep pace with the industrialization and economic growth Indonesia is experiencing. Indonesia currently has 6,964 kilometers of railroad, 119,500 kilometers of highway, 21,579 kilometers of inland waterways and 435 airports.
The communication infrastructure in Indonesia has grown significantly over the past 20 years. In 1976 Indonesia began using its first (and only) satellite communications system. This system has allowed rapid expansion of telephone, television and radio services to all of Indonesia's 27 provinces. Communication needs not handled by the satellite system are met via an inter-island microwave system. Indonesia currently has 0.5 telephones per 1,000 persons, 146 radios per 1,000 persons and 41 televisions per 1,000 persons.
Indonesia does not currently have enough technological expertise to support its needs. Consultants have been employed in urban areas, particularly Jakarta, to assist in infrastructure development and long term planning. Industrial and manufacturing expertise has, for the most part, come from Japan and the West. Many of Indonesia's road, highway, and bridge building needs are supported by the government and are planned and executed by domestic civil engineers. Recently the Indonesian government and some universities have installed Internet accessible computer networks. Indonesia is investing in technical education through a number of state supported universities and technical schools.
The entertainment available to tourists and the sights to be seen in Indonesia depend largely upon the area which is being visited. The majority of business travellers will have Java, and more specifically Jakarta, as a destination. The best tip that can be given to travellers wishing to find entertainment is: Ask the local people. The people of Indonesia are extremely friendly and would like nothing more than to suggest attractions which are representative of their culture and history.
Jakarta itself is a contrast of modern western architecture and traditional Indonesian culture. Jakarta has many facilities for the visitor including luxury hotels, fine restaurants, exciting night-life and shopping centers and extensive beach recreation. The following is a brief list of places of interest in Jakarta and West Java.
Monas - The National Monument, or Monas, is a monument built during the Sukarno era of fierce nationalism. It represents the people's determination to achieve freedom and the crowning of their efforts in the proclamation of independence on August, 17 1945. Monas is a 137 meter tall marble obelisk topped by a flame coated with gold. The base of the monument houses a museum dedicated to Indonesian independence. The monument is open to the public daily. Monas' place in the minds of Indonesians is similar to that of the Statue of Liberty for Americans.
Central Museum - Established in 1778 by U.M.C. Rademacher under the auspices of the Batavia Association of Arts and Sciences, the Central Museum displays historical, prehistorical, archaeological and ethnographic aspects of Indonesia through an extensive collection of artifacts and relics which date back as far as the Stone Age. It has one of the most complete collections of bronzes and ceramics dating back to the Han, Tang and Ming Dynasties. The Museum has one of the finest numismatic collections in the world, including cloth money which was used on several islands until recently. Its collection of cultural instruments, household utensils, arts and crafts provides an introduction to the life of the various ethnic groups of Indonesia.
Taman Mini - "Mini Indonesia" is an Epcot Center-like park which presents Indonesia's 27 provinces and their unique characteristics. Taman Mini has buildings and structures which duplicate the regional architecture of each province and a museum which houses arts, crafts and traditional costumes from the different regions of Indonesia. Taman Mini also has an orchid garden in which hundreds of Indonesian orchid varieties are grown.
Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) Art Center - TIM consists of exhibition halls, theaters, an academy of arts, an archives building and a planetarium. A monthly program of events is usually available at local hotels. Events include exhibitions, plays, music and poetry recitals, dance performances, folk art and dramas from many regions of Indonesia.
Pulau Seribu - Palau Seribu is a group of small islands in the Jakarta Bay. Each of the islands features golden beaches fringed with coconut palms. The surrounding waters are a paradise for skin divers. They are filled with a myriad of tropical fish which live among the multicolored corals. The islands can be reached from Tanjung Priok or Pasar Ikan (Sunda Kelapa) by ferry or by chartered boat.
Ragunan Zoo - Jakarta's zoo is situated in the suburb of Ragunan in the southern part of the city. Indigenous animals such the Komodo dragon, tapir, anoa, Java tiger, banteng, wild ox and brightly colored birds are housed there.
The Wayang Museum - This puppetry museum displays wayang puppets from all parts of Indonesia and some from other parts of Southeast Asia as well. The wooden and leather puppets displayed there represent the finest craftsmanship in this particular form of traditional theater. The museum also shows shortened performances of the wayang kulit every Sunday morning.
Textile Museum - This museum displays various textiles from all over the country including hand-woven and painted cotton, silk and batik.
Bandung - Bandung is an inland, hill-country city located about 180 kilometers southeast of Jakarta. Bandung is the center of the Sundanese culture of West Java. Bandung can be reached from Jakarta by train or by car in about three hours. It is recommended that westerners who wish to travel by car hire a driver and do not attempt to navigate the mountain roads by themselves. The road from Jakarta to Bandung passes through a beautiful panorama of mountains, rice paddies, terraced fields, and small settlements.
Several institutes of higher education are located in Bandung, including the country's prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).
There is an endless variety of attractions in Bandung including Wayang shows, gamelan orchestras, cultural sites and shopping and dining. The climate in Bandung is somewhat cooler than Jakarta. There is a semi-active volcano called Tangkuban Prahu (literally translated: upside-down boat) located about 15 minutes outside of Bandung. Tangkuban Prahu has road access to the summit and a trail encircling its 12 craters. Visitors are encouraged to ask local people to suggest attractions.
Pelabuhan Ratu - Pelabuhan Ratu is fishing village which has become a popular holiday resort with people from Jakarta and Bandung. Pelabuhan Ratu can be reached from either city by car in about three hours. Pelabuhan Ratu has a 15 kilometer stretch of breathtaking beauty with hills, mountains and very wide sandy beaches along the southern coast of West Java on the Indian Ocean. At night, hundreds of fishing boats covered with lamps float out into the harbor an provide a truly inspiring view. There is a four-star hotel, the Samudera Beach, just west of Pelabuhan Ratu, and several other smaller hotels and cottages.
Krakatau Volcano - In 1883 Krakatau, a volcano off the coast of western Java, erupted with incredible force. Ash from the eruption was carried as far away as New York City and the eruption's tidal waves reached the West Coast of the U.S. The eruption destroyed most of the surrounding coastlines and most of the volcano itself. The destruction of the gigantic Krakatoa created a number of new small volcanic islands. One of these is called Anak Krakatau or Krakatau's Child. Anak Krakatau is, at present, an extremely active volcano. From both the west Coast of Java and the eastern tip of Sumatra the volcano is clearly visible. Boat tours of Krakatau and Anak Krakatau are available during most of the year.
The above list of attractions in West Java is hardly comprehensive and really only scratches the surface.
Any extended trip to Indonesia should include a trip to Central Java. Yogyakarta, ancient capital of Indonesia and the center of much of its culture, is located in central Java. Yogyakarta stretches from the volcano Mount Merapi to the Indian Ocean. There is daily air service to Yogyakarta from Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali as well as regular train service and easy accessibility by road from most of the Island of Java. One of the most interesting attractions in Yogyakarta is the 17th century sultan's palace or kroton. The kroton and the ancient city's center are remarkably well preserved and are open to the public daily. The kroton is the hub of Yogyakarta's traditional life and local traditions hold that it emanates the spirit of refinement which has been the hallmark of Yogyakarta's art and culture for centuries. Local craftsmen excel in the arts of batik, silver and leather work. Gamelan performances, classical and contemporary Javanese dances, wayang kulit leather puppet theater and other traditional art performances abound. The following is a brief list of some attractions in Central Java.
Borobudur - Borobudur is an magnificent Buddhist temple located 42 kilometers northwest of Yogyakarta. The name "Borobudur" is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words "Vihara Buddha Uhr" which mean the Buddhist monastery on the hill. Borobudur was built in the eighth century A.D. by the Cailendra dynasty. Borobudur is built of gray andesite stone. The walls of the Borobudur are sculptured in stone reliefs extending over a total length of six kilometers. Borobudur has been hailed as the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world.
Mendut and Pawon - Located only three kilometers from Borobudur, Mendut is said to face toward Benares, India, where Buddha Gautama taught his five disciples for the first time. The smaller temple of Mendut, which houses the great statue of Buddha, and the Pawon temple are an integral part of the Borobudur complex. A 3 meter tall Buddha together with two Bodhisatva (ones who wish to achieve Buddhaship) figures of Lokesvara and Vajrapani are, in the view of some experts, among the greatest manifestations of Buddhist art. Pawon is a small temple located between Mendut and Borobudur. Pawon's architecture is distinctly Javanese and is simultaneously a contrast and kin to Mendut. Both Mendut and Pawon were intended to be places for purification of the mind before ascension to the grand temple Borobudur.
Prambanan - This magnificent Shivaite temple derives it name from the village where it is located. Locally known as the Loro Jonggrang Temple, or the Temple of the "Slender Virgin", it is the biggest and most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia. Prambanan is located 17 kilometers east of Yogyakarta and is believed to have been built by King Balitung Maha Sambu in the middle of the 9th century A.D. Its parapets are adorned with a stone reliefs depicting the Hindu epic Ramayana. Ramayana ballets are held at Prambanan on full moon evenings from May through October.
Kotagede - Kotagede, located 5 kilometers southeast of Yogyakarta, is a small and ancient town which was once the seat of the mighty Mataram empire. Kotagede has become famed as the center of the Yogyakarta silverwork industry. There are a number of workshops where visitors are welcome to watch skilled craftsmen transform pure silver into beautiful works of art known as "Yogya Silver". Kotagede is easily reached from Yogyakarta by taxi, bus, or car.
Yogyakarta is the center of much of the batik production in Indonesia. Visits to batik markets located in and around Yogyakarta are more than simple shopping trips, they are also an experience in traditional Javanese art.
Probably the most important tip regarding food and dining for travellers in Indonesia is this: The water is not potable. This includes tap water in restaurants and hotels. Bottled drinking water, air minum in Bahasa Indonesia, is widely available in markets, hotels and restaurants. Bottled soft drinks, beer and fruit juices are safe. Tea and coffee are common beverages in Indonesia and are usually well boiled and safe to drink. Coffee drinkers are sure to find Indonesian coffee particularly enjoyable. Fresh fruits and vegetables which are not peeled should be avoided or washed in bottled water before consumption.
Indonesian cuisine varies greatly by region but dishes which are fairly common nationwide are sate (skewered grilled meat), gado-gado (vegetables with a peanut sauce), nasi goreng (fried rice served at any time of day) and bakmi goreng (fried noodles). Indonesian food served in restaurants and hotels is generally well cooked and safe to eat. Undercooked meat should be avoided. Many urban streets have small food stalls called warungs and small open-air restaurants. The food from these establishments is less consistently safe than in established restaurants and hotels. The small restaurants and warungs do, however, often have the most representative local cuisines. In costal areas, an incredible array of seafood is available and is often obtained fresh daily from public fish markets. Indonesian food is generally spicy and usually contains hot chilies and peppers. Fresh fruits including bananas, papaya, pineapple, citrus fruits, and coconut are available year round.
In urban areas on Java and Bali, accommodations from modest hostels to world class and five-star hotels are available. In Jakarta the Jakarta Hilton, Borobudur Intercontinental, and the Jakarta Mandarin are all five-star hotels. The Sari Pacific, the President Hotel and the Hotel Indonesia are also fine hotels in Jakarta. Intermediate quality accommodations in Jakarta include the Jayakarta Plaza, the Kartika Plaza and the Monas Hotel. Budget lodgings in Jakarta can be found at the Bali International, Borneo Hostel and Royal Hotel.
The finest hotels in Bandung are the Panghegar and the Savoy Homann. A very nice intermediately priced hotel in Bandung is the Arjuna Plaza. The Arjuna Plaza has comfortable rooms with balconies which overlook a garden and fish pond. The Arjuna Plaza is located near the top of a small hill and has a nice view of the nearby mountains and the volcano Tangkuban Prahu. Budget accommodations in Bandung can be found at the Brawijaya and Dago guest houses.
The Ambarrukmo Hotel and the Hotel Garuda are both very nice hotels in Yogyakarta. The Hotel Garuda is among the most historic hotels in central Java and is located near shopping and cultural centers in Yogyakarta.
The Batik Palace, New Batik Palace, and Arjuna Plaza hotels are all nice intermediate accommodations and are located very near the central shopping and cultural areas of Yogyakarta. Budget accommodations in Yogyakarta include the Agung Guest House and the Rose Guest House.
The Samudra Beach Hotel on the beach in Pelabuhan Ratu is a relatively large and comfortable hotel located on a beautiful beach with a wonderful view of the harbor. Views of sunrise, sunset, and the fishing boats at sea are all spectacular. A small hotel located on a cliff overlooking the sea named Bayu Amarta rents rooms and small bungalows. The restaurant at Bayu Amarta features fresh seafood catches prepared to order in a tranquil setting.
Rates for five-star hotels can be expected be $140 U.S. and up per night in Jakarta. Prices for intermediate accommodations range from $35 to $70 U.S. per night, and budget rates can be expected to range from $10 to 25$ U.S. per night. All hotel rates in Indonesia are assessed a lodging tax of about 20 percent. Hotel restaurant frequently have a gratuity added to prices as well.
All first class hotels have air conditioning in rooms and provide good service. First class hotels also have western style bathroom facilities. Some intermediate hotels have air conditioning but it is usually in the form of a small window unit. Most intermediate hotels have western style bathroom facilities but some do not. Budget accommodation rarely have air conditioning and quality and service varies. In many budget lodgings guests are expected to share bathroom facilities.
Taxis, becaks, and public transportation are readily available in urban areas. Taxi rates vary by location but in all cases the destination and fare should be established with the driver before entering the car. Reasonable taxi rates are generally $0.50 to $1 U.S. per kilometer. In many areas taxi drivers can be hired for a day for $30 to 60$ U.S. Becaks (pedi cabs) are common in most areas and can be hired for very low rates ($0.10 to $0.20 per kilometer). No one should leave Indonesia without having ridden in a becak. In most areas small vans called oplets are available for very low rates. Oplets tend to be crowded and passengers must know their destination and tell the driver when they wish to get off. Westerners may find oplets cramped and uncomfortable. Public transportation in the form of busses is available in Jakarta and between cities. Inter-city bus rates are very reasonable. A person can travel the length of Java (1100 kilometers) for as little as $20 U.S.! Most long inter-city bus routes operate at night to take advantage of cool temperatures. Most busses are not air conditioned. Train fares between major cities range from about $15 to 35$ U.S.
Most shopping in Indonesia is done in neighborhood markets called pasars. There are a few modern malls, shopping centers, and department stores in large urban areas. Pasars are usually organized by the type of commodity sold. There are clothing and batik pasars, silver and jewelry pasars, wood carving and craft pasars and food pasars in many areas. In the pasars, prices are rarely fixed and bargaining is expected. The price agreed on for an item should be one half to one third of the first stated price. People should not use large bills unless they have first asked if change is available. Westerners should learn to quote prices and bargain in Bahasa Indonesia if they wish to avoid overpaying for goods.
The unit of currency in Indonesia is the Rupiah. The exchange rate in November, 1994 was 2,177 Rupiah per U.S. dollar. This exchange rate is fairly stable and has been at approximately this level for the past two or three years.
Guests are welcomed warmly by Indonesians and the people relish human interaction. A visitor should sit when invited but should rise whenever the host or hostess enters the room. Hosts will frequently serve drinks to guest but one should not drink until all are served and one is invited to do so. Finishing a drink in Indonesia indicates a desire to have the drink refilled. If a person wishes to quit drinking, roughly a quarter of the glass should be left full.
It is polite to remove one's shoes when entering a home, particularly in rural areas or if the host or hostess is barefoot. Shoes should also be removed when entering carpeted rooms, feasting places, and holy places - especially mosques. Sunglasses should be removed when speaking to someone or when entering a home, meeting hall, or holy place.
Modest gifts and cards of appreciation are welcomed by host and hostesses at most occasions. Indonesians will usually not open gifts in the presence of the giver. Compliments and voiced appreciation are particularly appreciated by hostesses. Guests should always accept gifts and show appreciation. It is considered impolite for a person to refuse anything which is offered to them. Indonesians, when going on a trip to visit someone and when returning home, will take small gifts called oleh-oleh.
Indonesians do not appreciate western sarcasm and wit. Sarcasm, particularly when directed at an individual, is considered insulting and disrespectful. The greatest insult one can make is to embarrass another person publicly. Indonesians appreciate a gentle tone and unassuming attitude in conversation.
Documents required by Indonesian immigration for tourist and business visits are a Passport and an onward and return ticket. Visas are not required for stays of up to two months. For information on requirements for longer stays contact: Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, 2020 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20036. Phone: (202) 775-5200
Inoculations against typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, hepatitis and dengue fever are recommended. For travel in rural areas, malaria suppressant should be obtained. Anti-diarrheal and antacid medications should be taken by travellers.