From "Sabang ‘till Merauke" is the name of a song dedicated to Indonesia’s many islands and its diversity. It’s numerous chain of islands contained in the thirty-two thousand miles dividing two oceans, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Sabang is a small island just off the coast of Sumatra; Merauke is a small village near the border of Papua New Guinea. Indonesia’s 13,677 islands inhabited by 350 different ethnic groups, and more than 200 different languages. Consequently this part of the world gave many different cultures, traditions, and way of lives. Despite this diversity, Indonesia today has a common bond that united them all into one nation, one language, and one people. Due to this diversity, conflicts are unavoidable. However, the people of Indonesia have been able to overcome their differences. The spirit of musyawarah (to deliberate or confer), mufakat (to agree), and gotong-royong (mutual assistance) that have been instilled by their fore-father have helped in achieving peace between the people's groups. They have yet find this quality in any other nations of the world.
The largest country, both in area and population, in Southeast Asia is the Republic of Indonesia. It consists of 13,677 islands that cover 741,101 square miles (1,919,443 square kilometers) of land along the equator between the Indian and Pacific oceans. With a population of more than 210 million, it ranks as the world's fourth most populous country. The nation is poor, with a low standard of living, even though it has many valuable natural resources. These include large onshore and offshore petroleum and natural gas deposits, huge tracts of tropical hardwood forests, and a variety of minerals, including tin, nickel, and copper. However, only about 10 percent of the land can be used for raising crops. The islands of Indonesia, of which 6,044 are inhabited, spread out over about 3,200 miles (5,300 kilometers) from east to west, and 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometers) from north to south. The country's total land and sea area are more than 3 million square miles (7.7 million square kilometers). Despite the vast number of islands, five of them account for nearly 92 percent of the land area. These are Sumatra; Java; Celebes (Sulawesi); two thirds of Borneo (Kalimantan); and the western portion of New Guinea, Irian Jaya. Almost 95 percent of the people live on those main islands, and more than 62 percent make their homes in Java. Under international law, the waters between the islands of an archipelago have not traditionally been regarded as part of a country's territory. However, Indonesia claimed them as such, which led to international disagreements. The Law of the Sea Convention, approved by the United Nations in 1982, established the concept of archipelago waters, supporting Indonesia's claim. From the start of its history, Indonesia was divided in various ways among a number of rulers. The Netherlands ruled the islands for nearly 350 years, until Indonesia declared its independence in 1945. Sundas to the East of Java, of whom the Balinese are the most numerous. Among the non-Malay people of Indonesia are approximately 4 million Chinese. Many of them have adjusted to Indonesian ways, and most live in the larger cities and towns. The Chinese residents have, however, often been persecuted by the Malaysian majority. Dayaks inhabit the Borneo highlands, and small number of Papuan peoples of Melanesian origin lives in Irian Jaya. Indonesia developed an official national language because of the great variety of tongues spoken in the country. All Indonesian schoolchildren are required to learn this language, called Bahasa Indonesia. It was developed from Trade Malay, one of the most widespread hybrid languages used by Indonesians. Bahasa Indonesia also contains elements borrowed from the ethnic languages, particularly Javanese. English is taught in the schools as well. Most Indonesians live in rural areas and are farmers, though...
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