The name Indonesia has its roots in two Greek Words: "Indos" meaning Indian and "Nesos" meaning island. This is an excellent description of the archipelago, as there are an estimated 17,508 islands, some nothing more than tiny outcropping of barren rock, others as California or Spain and covered in dense tropical jungle. Approximately 6,000 of these islands are inhabited, with five main islands and 30 smaller archipelagoes serving as home to the majority of the population.
The main islands are Sumatra (473,606 sq.km), Kalimantan (539,460 sq.km), Sulawesi (189,216 sq.km), Irian Jaya (421,981 sq.km), and Java (132,187 sq.km).
The islands and people of Indonesia constitute the fourth most populated nation in the world, with about 200 million people.
The majority is of Malay descen. The population is predominantly Moslem. Nevertheless, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and other religions are freely practiced.
Indonesia offers supperb luxury hotels and resorts along the beach on secluded mountains or in city centres across the country. Medium sized, three stars hotels can be found in many cities as well as in holiday resorts. For those who travelling on shoestring budgets, clean and friendly homestays or losmen are available.
In Jakarta, the small losmens at Jalan Jaksa, near the Gambir train station is a favourite with students and backpackers. While businessmen will go for the deluxe hotels. Medium sized three and four star hotels are spread out in this vast city. Near the Soekarno Hatta Airport there are two airport hotels available; one located outside the airport and another inside the airport terminal.
In Bali, there are hotels along the beaches, and in the hills overlooking lush valleys. From three storied buildings to Balinese styled villages, all offer comfort and luxury service. There are of course smaller hotels with cheaper rates. All are available, but during peak season in July, August, September or around Christmas and New Year, make sure to book early.
In Yogyakarta, comfortable and clean homestays as well as medium and luxurious hotels welcome visitors to this cradle of Javanese culture.
Indonesia has several international airports. Besides the Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta which serves both as gateway to the country and hub to all of Indonesia's provinces, international flights also arrive at and leave direct from Bali and Surabaya. There are direct regional flights from Singapore and Malaysia to several destinations including Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Solo, Lombok, Makassar (Ujung Pandang), Manado, and from Australia to Kupang and Bali.
Roads on Java, Bali, Lombok, parts of Sumatera, Kalimantan and Sulawesi are good for inter-province travel by car or coach. Rail travel is available all across Java, short distances in North and South Sumatera. Metered taxis or cars can be hired in all large cities. For a leisurely and quaint sight-seeing drive, try the andong or becak in Yogya or other types of horse-drawn carts.
Pelni shipping lines operate large inter-island ferries which offer deck-class to first class fares. For short hops there are local prahus with or without outboard motor.
In most bigger cities and some towns as well, taxis are available, though only in Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, and Bali metered taxis are commonplace. In other cities and tourist areas one can hire cars, usually chauffeur-driven and paid by the hour or for each one-way trip. Taxi reservation stand is available inside the International arrival hall. An airport surcharge, plus toll road fees will be added to the metered fare.
Situated completely in the tropics, Indonesia is known as the "belt" of emeralds across the equator. It has warm tropical weather with mostly sunshine and intermittent rain. The dry season lasts from June to September, and the rainy season from December to March. The transitional period between these two seasons alternates between gorgeous sun-filled days and occasional thunderstorms. Even in the midst of the wet season temperatures range from 21 degrees (70°F) to 33 degrees Celsius (90°F), except at higher altitudes which can be much cooler. The heaviest rainfalls are usually recorded in December and January. Average humidity is generally between 70% and 100 %.
All visitors to Indonesia must be in possesion of passport valid for at least six months with proof of onward passage, either return or through tickets.
Visas are waived for nationals of 11 countries for visits of no more than one month (non-extendable). The countries are: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Phillipine, Hongkong Special Administration Region, Macau Special Administration Region, Chili, Marroco, Turkey, and Peru. For those who are not nationals of the above-stated countries and not entitled for free visa facility, the tourist visa can be obtained on the day of arrival according to the valid procedures and rules. Please note that a small fee will be charged. Please consult with Indonesian embassy or consulate for further information on visa.
The local currency is the Rupiah. Major world currencies, either banknotes or travellers cheques, are easily exchanged at banks and moneychangers in major tourist destinations. It is advisable to carry sufficient amounts of Rupiah when travelling to smaller towns or outer provinces. Banknotes are available in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, while coins come in denominations of 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. (You'll need to show your passport to exchange money, and make sure you count what you're given). Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants in main cities. Electricity
Most hotels use 220 volts 50 cycles and two-pronged plugs. However it is not uncommon to find some hotels using 110 volts, particularly in the provinces. Check before using an appliance. Some hotels supply adaptors on request.