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Borobudur Buddhist temple on JavaBorobudur Buddhist temple on JavaWith more than 17,000 islands scattered along the equator, Indonesia is the largest group of islands—or archipelago—on Earth. It is home to 245 million people, making it the fourth most populated country in the world. Once prized in Europe as the “Spice Islands”, Indonesia has a history shaped by centuries of trade. Most of the country’s area is made up of the large, mountainous islands of Sumatra, Java and Celebes, as well as large portions of the islands of Borneo and New Guinea. Among its many smaller islands are Bali, Flores and Sumbawa. Lying on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is home to nearly 150 volcanoes, and its islands are constantly at risk from volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Much of Indonesia is covered by rainforest and has a tropical climate, with hot, humid weather all year round and a rainy season between November and March.

A map of IndonesiaA map of Indonesia

Jakarta street vendorsJakarta street vendors


The island of Java, the world’s most populated island, is home to 60% of Indonesians. Indonesia is a multi-ethnic country, with around 360 different peoples and over 700 languages. Its two largest ethnic groups are the Javanese and Sundanese, both of whom are native to the island of Java.

Dani tribesmanDani tribesman

Rural population

While Indonesia's huge, modern cities are developing quickly, some people, such as the Dani of western New Guinea, lead a lifestyle based on fishing and farming that has remained the same for thousands of years. In the countryside, many people still work as subsistence farmers, growing just enough rice to feed their families. New Guinea’s Korowai people, build their houses high in trees to protect them from attack by rival clans.

Panorama of JakartaPanorama of Jakarta

A worker at a sulphur mineA worker at a sulphur mine


Of more than 17,000 Indonesian islands, only 8844 have been named, and just 922 have people living on them all year round.

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