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Indonesia Information - Page 2
The Indonesian archipelago is one of the most important areas for the study of early man. The Sangiran Early Man Site in Java is on the World Heritage List.

Around five thousand years ago people migrated to the region from other parts of Southeast Asia. Later, people moved to the area from India.

A number of important kingdoms were established: Buddhist, Hindu and Hindu-Buddhist. Arab traders introduced Islam and between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Islam emerged as the main religion.

In the early sixteenth century the Portuguese arrived, followed by the Dutch. By the late eighteenth century the region was part of the Dutch colonial empire and known as the Netherlands East Indies. For a brief period, between 1811 and 1816, "Indonesia" came under British rule but was returned to the Dutch.

During the Second World War Japanese forces invaded the Dutch East Indies (1942). After the War Indonesia declared independence. Sukarno, the independence leader, became the country's first president.

Following the declaration of independence there were years of fighting and unrest. The Dutch did not recognise independence for four years and some groups tried to break away from the republic. An attempted coup was followed by martial law and General Suharto became president in 1967. Suharto resigned in 1998 as a result of the Asian economic crisis.

At the end of the twentieth century Indonesia's economy suffered from the Asian Currency Crisis. The new century brought a number of natural disasters. The 2004 tsunami caused billions of dollars of damage. This was followed by a series of earthquakes, another tsunami (Java, 2006) and flooding in Jakarta in early 2007.

In late 2010 increasing inflation, driven by higher food prices, created an increasing challenge and threatened poverty for millions.

Agriculture, although the smallest contributor to the country's Gross Domestic Product, provides employment for a large percentage of the working population. Agricultural products include rice, cassava, peanuts, nutmeg, cloves, palm oil, copra, coffee, cocoa, meat and eggs.

Indonesia's main industries are petroleum, natural gas, mining, cement, chemical fertilisers, rubber, plywood, textiles, clothing, footwear and food processing. Tourism is an important industry, especially on the island of Bali. (2011)

Indonesia is known for its combined drama and dance. Performances are often based on Indonesian versions of the epic Hindu poems, the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Gamelan orchestras, consisting mainly of percussion instruments, accompany performances of traditional dancing and shadow puppet theatre.

Indonesia is famous for textiles, batik and wooden carvings. Traditional cloth paintings can be seen in the temples and shrines of Bali. Hangings show scenes of stories set out in consecutive boxes, often with themes from the Sanskrit epics.

The coral reefs of Indonesia's coastline are a great attraction for divers. The archipelago is also very popular with surfers. Boat racing is a traditional sport.

Other traditional sports include pencak silat, a form of martial arts, and sepak takraw, a ball game in which a rattan ball has to be kept in the air using any part of the body except the hands. Kite flying is also popular.

Sports such as football, tennis and badminton are played.

Religious holidays are celebrated. Other days commemorated include Independence Day, 17 August (1945).

News from Indonesia is available from Newslink.

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