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Friday 24th May
Indonesia Facts
Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago consisting of many thousands of islands. Around six thousand of the islands are inhabited.

The Indonesian name for Indonesia is "Tanah Air Kita" - Our Land and Water.

Indonesia's national motto is Unity in Diversity.

The highest point in Indonesia is Puncak Jaya (5,030 m) in the highlands of Papua.

Indonesia's region of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) shares the island of New Guinea with Papua New Guinea.

The Indonesian administrative divisions of Kalimantan share Borneo with Malaysia and Brunei.

The islands of New Guinea and Borneo are two of the largest islands in the world.

The eruption of Mount Tambora, on Sumbawa Island, in 1815 was the most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history. 1816 was known as the "Year Without Summer" because of the global climatic effects of the eruption.

In 1883 the volcanic island of Krakatoa (part of the Indonesian archipelago) was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. This caused a tidal wave that killed over thirty thousand people.

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions sometimes cause a tsunami, a giant wave which can swamp islands and coastal settlements. A tsunami can travel as fast as 800 kph.

Indonesia is part of the Ring of Fire which includes about seventy-five percent of all the world's volcanoes. (The rim of the Pacific Basin is ringed with volcanoes, from Alaska through the USA, Mexico and South America, then on to New Zealand and up to Japan and Russia.).

In the early 1890s Eugene Dubois discovered a skull and thigh bone of Homo erectus in East Java. Dubois published his findings of "Java Man" in 1894, claiming that Homo erectus was an ancestor of modern humans.

A cave painting, thought to be 44,000 years old, was discovered on the island of Sulawesi - governed by Indonesia - in 2019. The painting depicts a group of bird-headed men hunting pigs and dwarf buffalo with spears and rope.

The Sangiran Early Man Site, on the World Heritage List, is estimated to have been inhabited one and a half million years ago. Half of the world's hominid fossils have been found at Sangiran in Java.

Marco Polo was one of the first Europeans to visit Indonesia.

Europeans went to Indonesia in search of spices. Spices were a very valuable commodity in Europe.

Indonesia is one the world's largest producers of nutmeg.

By the late eighteenth century "Indonesia" was part of the Dutch colonial empire and known as the Netherlands East Indies.

Indonesia's island of Bali did not come under the control of the Netherlands until 1906. During the Dutch capture of the island many thousands of Balinese were killed. Puputan Square in Denpasar is named after the suicidal battle of the Balinese aristocracy in their struggle against the Dutch.

Between 1811 and 1816 (during the Napoleonic Wars), "Indonesia" came under British rule but was returned to the Dutch.

After the War (1939-1945) Indonesia declared independence. Sukarno, the independence leader, became the country's first president.

Following independence, the Dutch remained in control of the western part of New Guinea (now Papua). This territory was eventually passed to Indonesia under a United Nations agreement (1963).

In 1975 East Timor gained independence from the Portuguese but was annexed by Indonesia in 1976. East Timor voted for independence in 1999 but did not regain independence until 2002.

In October 2002 a terrorist bomb in Bali (Kuta town) killed over 180 people. Three years later, suicide bombings in Bali killed over twenty people.

In 2003 a car bomb outside the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta killed fourteen people. A year later, another car bomb in Jakarta outside the Australian embassy killed nine people.

On 26 December 2004, a quake occurred under the sea near Aceh in north Indonesia (8.9 on the Richter scale); this produced tsunamis causing flooding and destruction in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and the east coast of Africa (Kenya and Somalia).

An earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale, off the coast of Sumatra, killed between one and two thousand people in March 2005. Many of the victims lived on the small island of Nias.

Towards the end of May 2006 an earthquake measuring 6.2 struck the Indonesian island of Java killing over three thousand people.

A tsunami, caused by an undersea earthquake (magnitude 7.7), struck the island of Java on 17 July 2006 killing over 500 people.

In November 2008 an earthquake near the island of Sulawesi, magnitude 7.5, killed at least six people.

An earthquake of magnitude 7.6 occurred near the north coast of Papua in January 2009. Another earthquate, 7.9 magnitude, struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra in September.

In November 2008 three Islamic militants who were convicted of carrying out the 2002 Bali bombings were executed.

In July 2009 President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was re-elected. Suicide bomb attacks on the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta killed nine people and injured many others. In September police shot dead Indonesia’s most wanted Islamist militant Noordin Mohammad Top.

In March 2010 Police shot dead Dulmatin, the last main suspect of the 2002 Bali bombings. In 2010 US President Barack Obama visited and hailed Indonesia as an example of how a developing nation can embrace democracy.

A major earthquake and tsunami in September 2018 killed over one thousand people on the island of Sulawesi, around the city of Palu.

In October 2018 a new Boeing 737 Max 8 plane, operated by Indonesia's Lion Air, crashed into the Java Sea, killing the 189 people on board.

In December 2021 Mount Semeru, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, erupted with over thirty people losing their lives on the island of Java.

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