Theme Week Indonesia

Monday, 20 May 2019 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Theme Weeks, UNESCO World Heritage

Borobudur, the world's largest Buddist temple © Gunawan Kartapranata/cc-by-sa-3.0

Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddist temple © Gunawan Kartapranata/cc-by-sa-3.0

Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world’s largest island country, with more than seventeen thousand islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres (735,358 square miles), the 14th largest by land area and the 7th largest in combined sea and land area. With over 261 million people, it is the world’s 4th most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world’s most populous island, contains more than half of the country’s population.

The sovereign state is a presidential, constitutional republic with an elected parliament. It has 34 provinces, of which five have special status. Jakarta, the country’s capital, largest and most importend city (List of Indonesian cities by population) and , is the second most populous urban area in the world. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and the eastern part of Malaysia. Other neighbouring countries include Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and India‘s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support a high level of biodiversity. The country has abundant natural resources like oil and natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Agriculture mainly produces rice, palm oil, tea, coffee, cacao, medicinal plants, spices and rubber. Indonesia’s major trading partners are China, United States, Japan, Singapore and India.

The first regular contact between Europeans and the peoples of the archipelago began in 1512, when Portuguese traders, led by Francisco Serrão, sought to monopolise the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. Dutch and British traders followed. In 1602, the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and in the following decades, they gained a foothold in Batavia and Amboina. For almost 200 years, the company was the dominant European power in the archipelago. It was dissolved in 1800 following bankruptcy, and the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalised colony. Since the VOC’s establishment, the expansion of Dutch territory had primarily been motivated by trade. Starting from 1840, however, the Netherlands began a period of expansion to enlarge and consolidate their possessions outside Java, mainly to protect areas already held, and to prevent intervention from other European powers. As a result, the Dutch became involved in numerous wars against various native groups in the archipelago throughout the 19th century, such as the Padri War, Java War and the long and costly Aceh War. It was only in the first half of the 20th century that the Dutch exerted control over what was to become Indonesia’s current boundaries, with the addition of Western New Guinea in 1920. In 1901, the Netherlands introduced the Dutch Ethical Policy that was aimed at improving living conditions and welfare, expanding education to native peoples, and preparing the archipelago for self-government under Dutch control. The policy, however, inadvertently contributed to the Indonesian National Awakening, and subsequent rise of independence movements, which the Dutch actively suppressed. During World War II, the Empire of Japan invaded and occupied the archipelago, effectively ending Dutch rule. Famine and forced labour (romusha) were common during the occupation, and war crimes were committed in areas that were deemed important for the Japanese war effort. A later United Nations report stated that the Japanese occupation resulted in a total of 4 million deaths. However, the occupation proved to be fundamental for Indonesian independence, as the Japanese encouraged and facilitated Indonesian nationalism, promoted nationalist figures such as Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta and Ki Hajar Dewantara, and provided weapons and military training. Just two days after the surrender of Japan, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence on 17 August 1945, and were selected as the country’s first President and Vice President respectively. The Netherlands attempted to re-establish their rule, and an armed and diplomatic struggle ensued. In December 1949, the Dutch formally recognised Indonesian independence in the face of international pressure, with the exception of the Netherlands New Guinea, which was later incorporated into Indonesia following the 1962 New York Agreement and the disputed 1969 referendum that led to the ongoing Papua conflict. Despite major internal political, social and sectarian divisions during the struggle, Indonesians, on the whole, found unity in their fight for independence.

Raja Ampat Islands © Jonathan Chase/cc-by-2.5 Bekasi © Garybhaztara/cc-by-sa-4.0 Borobudur, the world's largest Buddist temple © Gunawan Kartapranata/cc-by-sa-3.0 Great mosque in Medan © Daniel Berthold/cc-by-sa-3.0 Jakarta Panorama © Gunawan Kartapranata/cc-by-sa-3.0 Jakarta © flickr.com - yohanes budiyanto/cc-by-2.0
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Borobudur, the world's largest Buddist temple © Gunawan Kartapranata/cc-by-sa-3.0
Cultural history of the Indonesian archipelago spans more than two millennia. Influences from the Indian subcontinent, mainland China, the Middle East, Europe, and the Austronesian peoples have historically shaped the cultural, linguistic and religious make-up of the archipelago. As a result, modern-day Indonesia has a multicultural, multilingual and multi-ethnic society, with complex cultural mixture that differs significantly from the original indigenous cultures. Indonesia currently holds 9 items of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, which include wayang puppet theatre, kris, batik, education and training on making Indonesian batik, angklung, saman dance, noken, and the three genres of traditional Balinese dance (Culture of Indonesia).

Indonesian arts include both age-old art forms developed through centuries, and a recently developed contemporary art. Despite often displaying local ingenuity, Indonesian arts have absorbed foreign influences—most notably from India, the Arab world, China and Europe, as a result of contacts and interactions facilitated, and often motivated, by trade. The art of painting is quite developed in Bali, where its people are famed for their artistry. Their painting tradition started as classical Kamasan or Wayang style visual narrative, derived from visual art discovered on candi bas reliefs in eastern Java. It is notable for its highly vigorous yet refined intricate art that resembles baroque folk art with tropical themes Indonesian art and Architecture of Indonesia). Megalithic sculpture has been discovered on several sites in Indonesia. Subsequently, tribal art has flourished within the culture of Nias, Batak, Asmat, Dayak and Toraja. Wood and stone are common materials used as the media for sculpting among these tribes. Between the 8th and 15th century, Javanese civilisation has developed a refined stone sculpting art and architecture which was influenced by Hindu-Buddhist Dharmic civilisation. The temples of Borobudur and Prambanan are among the most famous examples of the practice. As with the arts, Indonesian architecture has absorbed foreign influences that has brought cultural changes and profound effect on building styles and techniques. The most dominant influence has traditionally been Indian; however, Chinese, Arab, and European influences have also been significant. Traditional carpentry, masonry, stone and woodwork techniques and decorations have thrived in vernacular architecture, with numbers of traditional houses’ (rumah adat) styles have been developed. The traditional houses and settlements of the numerous ethnic groups of Indonesia vary widely and have their own specific history. They are at the centre of a web of customs, social relations, traditional laws and religions that bind the villagers together. Examples include Toraja‘s Tongkonan, Minangkabau‘s Rumah Gadang and Rangkiang, Javanese style Pendopo pavilion with Joglo style roof, Dayak‘s longhouses, various Malay houses, Balinese houses and temples, and also various styles of rice barns (lumbung).

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Government of Indonesia, Indonesia.travel, Indonesia-Tourism.com, Indonesian cuisine, World Heritage sites in Indonesia, Wikitravel Indonesia, Wikivoyage Indonesia and Wikipedia Indonesia. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.










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