Indonesia is a nation of islands. According to the country's Naval Hydro-Oceanographic Office, it contains some 17,508 islands, although only about 6,000 are inhabited. In fact, the country's island identity is part of its name. "Indonesia" has its roots in two Greek words: Indos meaning "Indian" and Nesos which means "islands."
The country stretches around the equator for 5,150 km (3,200 miles) - roughly the distance between Los Angeles and New York . The comparative map below should give you an idea of the country's size. It is the largest archipelago in the world.
Strategically, the country lies between the Australian and Asian continents and the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Seas and oceans comprise 81 percent of the total area of the Republic. Of its land area of 1,919,440 sq km, rivers and lakes occupy 93,000 sq km and land features 1,826,440 sq km.
Five main islands and 30 smaller archipelagos are home to the majority of the population. The main islands are Kalimantan (1,539,400 sq km), Sumatra (473,606 sq km), Irian Jaya (421,981 sq km), Sulawesi (189,216 sq km), and Java (132,187 sq km). Java alone is home to roughly 70 percent of the country's population!
Indonesia shares the island of Papua with Papua New Guinea and the island of Kalimantan with Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.
Across the country, the land is generally covered by thick tropical rain forests, where fertile soil is continuously replenished by volcanic eruptions like those on the island of Java . But Indonesia is also mountainous, with some 400 volcanoes, of which 100 are still active.
Climate and Weather
Indonesia 's monsoon-type climate changes approximately every six months, although, in recent years, global warming has somewhat disrupted weather patterns. The dry season for the west part of Indonesia is from May to October and the wet season is from November to April. The dry and wet seasons in eastern Indonesia are the opposite.
Due to the large number of islands and mountains in the country, temperatures vary. Along the coastal plains, the average is 28°C (82°F); for inland and mountain areas, it is 26°C (79°F); and, in the higher mountain areas, the average is around 23°C (73°F). Like other tropical countries, Indonesia has a high average relative humidity, usually between 73 and 87 percent.
Flora and Fauna
Within the Indonesian archipelago lies one of the most remarkable zoological zones on the planet. Home of the most diverse flora and fauna in the world, Indonesia has 10 percent of all flowering plant species, 12 percent of mammal species, 17 percent of bird species and 25 percent of the world's species of fish.