A Brief History of Indonesia


    A Brief History of Indonesia

   The five main islands of Indonesia are Sumatra (which has the least populated islands), Java/Madura, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Irian Jaya. In total, there are over 17,500 islands, but only about 6,000 of those are actually inhabited. Indonesia stretches from 6°08′ N latitude to 11°15′ S latitude, and from 94°45′ E to 141°05′ E longitude. It is one of the most mountainous regions on earth. The highest one is over 15,000 feet high, and is called the Mandala Top. This one is located in Irian Jaya, but the entire country itself contains many more, including about 400 volcanoes. Of these, 100 are said to be still active.

   Ancient Indonesia dates back to about 40,000 years ago. 400 BC is when the country’s inhabitants began to feel confident enough to begin trading with other countries such as China, and by the 8th century the country that’s made up of beautiful islands was blossoming. The 16th century is when the Portuguese arrived in Indonesia; this was during the region’s colonial era. After seizing what was one of the main spices that was in high demand (Mulaccas) the Dutch took over in the 17th century. They purposefully exploited the Indonesians up until the 20th century, when they finally decided to treat the original inhabitants more fairly. After many more economic struggles (such as the slipped economy in the 1960’s), the economy today is growing at about 6% annually.

   The total population of Indonesia in 2015 is approximately 255 million, a number that was much lower decades ago. That is about 3.5% of the population of the entire world, with over 50% of that number representing urban residents. The average age is 28-years-old, and the population density itself is about 130 people per kilometer. As of 2014, Indonesia was ranked the 4th largest country in the world when referring to its total number of people.

   Annually, Indonesia has grown very rapidly since the 1950’s. For example, in 1955 the total population was just under 80 million, but ten years later that number had shot up by 10 million citizens. It grew by another 30 million by 1975, and had another growth rate of the same size by the mid 1980’s. The country grew at the same pace for the next two decades, all the way up until 2015. This growth is expected to remain the same in the coming decades, as Indonesia is steadily advancing its economic structure.

   The rural population of the country is a separate count altogether, and seems to have been steadily declining over the years. In the year 2000, this number sat at almost 124 million people. But, by 2010 it had dropped by 12 million. Then, in 2011, World Bank calculated the rural population at 120,228,827, a number that was determined by subtracting urban population from total population. That being said, the actual rural percentage of people in Indonesia as it stands today is about 47%. As the economy fluctuates, though, the number of people living there will likely choose either an urban or suburban lifestyle accordingly, depending on where they work and where their children attend school.


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