Indonesia in Brief
Indonesia is the largest archipelago and the fourth most populous country in the world. Consisting of five main islands Sumatra, Jawa, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua, with 33 provinces, 30 smaller archipelagoes, it has more than 17,508 islands of which about 6,000 are inhabited. It stretches 5,150 km between the Australian and Asian continental main lands and devides the Pacific and Indian Oceans at the Equator. The name Indonesia is composed of two words: “Indos” which means Indian and “nesos” meaning islands. The capital city of Indonesia is Jakarta.
Climate wise, Indonesia is distinctly tropical. The east monsoon from June to September brings dry weather while the west monsoon from December to March is moisture laden bringing rain. The transitional period between these two are interposed by occasional rain showers, but even in the midst of the west monsoon season, temperatures range from 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) to 33 degrees C (90 degrees F), except at the higher altitudes which are much cooler. Heaviest rainfalls are recorded in December and January. Humidity is between 60-100%.
Language and Dialects
There are more 583 languages and dialects spoken in the archipelago. There normally belong to the 350 different ethnic groups of the population. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language, written in Roman script and based on European orthography. In all tourist destination areas English is the number one foreign languages fairly spoken and written.
The Staple food of most of Indonesia is “nasi” (rice). On some of the island in eastern Indonesia, staple food traditionally ranged from corn, sago, cassava to sweet potatoes. Fish features prominently in the diet as fresh, salted, dried, smoked or a paste. Coconut is found everywhere and besides being produced for cooking oil, its milk – the juice from the white meat – is an ingredient for many dishes. Spices and hot chili Peppers are the essence of most cooking, and in some areas they are used generously such as in West Sumatra and North Sulawesi. Coffee and tea plantations are plentiful, growing on several islands, and served everywhere from fine restaurants to small village stalls. There are several breweries which produce local beer.
Indonesia time zone is 7 hours ahead of GMT (GMT +7) or 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Time Standard. Indonesia has three time zones: Western Indonesia Time which is GMT +7 (covering Sumatra, Java, Madura, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan), Central Indonesia Time which is GMT +8 (covering East and South Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali, Nusa Tenggara) and the last is Eastern Indonesia Time which is GMT +9 (covering Maluku and Papua (Irian Jaya)).
Electric power supply is usually about 220 volts/250 circle in big cities, but 110 volt is still used in number of regions. In general, rounded-end stacker with two pins is usually used.
Currency and Foreign Exchange
The unit of currency is Rupiah indicated as Rp or IDR. The Notes are 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000. The Coins are 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000. IDR and US$ are the most acceptable currencies. Foreign currency can be converted at banks and official money changers. Most tourism resorts have money changer facilities. Passport has to be presented when cashing traveler’s cheques at bank or money changer. Bank and money changers can be found in the largest towns, but it is advisable to carry sufficient Rupiah (Rp.) When traveling to remote areas.
Office hours start from 08.00 AM to 04.00 PM, or 09.00 AM to 05.00 PM. Lunch break occurs between 12.00 noon to 01.00 PM. Government office starts at 08.00 AM and ends at 04.00 PM, except Fridays when office hours are shorter. Standard bank office hours are from 08.00 AM to 03.00 PM from Monday to Friday. Usually offices are closed on Saturday, Sunday and some national holidays are labeled red on the Indonesian calendar.