Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. It consists of five major islands and about 30 smaller groups. The figure forthe total number of islands is 17,508 according to theIndonesian Naval Hydro-Oceanographic office. The archipelagois on a crossroads between two oceans, the Pacific and theIndian ocean, and bridges two continents, Asia and Australia. This strategic position has always influenced the cultural,social, political and economic life of the country. The territory of the Republic of Indonesia stretches from 6
08'north latitude to 11
15' south latitude, and from 94
05' east longitude. The Indonesian sea area is four timesgreater than its land area, which is about 1.9 million sq. km. The sea area is about 7.9 million sq. km (including an exclusiveeconomic zone) and constitutes about 81% of the total area of the country. The five main islands are: Sumatra, which is about 473,606 sq.km. in size; the most fertile and densely populated islands, Java/Madura, 132,107 sq. km; Kalimantan, which comprisestwo-thirds of the island of Borneo and measures 539,460 sq.km; Sulawesi, 189,216 sq. km; and Irian Jaya, 421,981 sq. km,which is part of the world's second largest island, New Guinea.Indonesia's other islands are smaller in size. The archipelago is divided into three groups. The islands of Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan, and the small islands in-between, lie on the Sunda Shelf which begin on the coasts of Malaysia and Indo China, where the sea depth does not exceed700 feet. Irian Jaya which is part of the island of New Guinea,and the Aru Islands lie on the Sahul Shelf, which stretchesnorthwards from the Australian coast. Here the sea depth issimilar to that of the Sunda Shelf.
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ocated between these two shelves is the island group of Nusatenggara, Maluku and Sulawesi, where the sea depthreaches 15,000 feet. Coastal plains have been developedaround the islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Irian Jaya. The land area is generally covered by thick tropical rain forests,where fertile soils are continuously replenished by volcaniceruptions like those on the island of Java. The country is predominantly mountainous with some 400volcanoes, of which 100 are active. Mountains higher than9,000 feet are found on the islands of Sumatra (Mt. Leuser andMt. Kerinci), Java (Mt. Gede, Mt. Tangkubanperahu, Mt. Ciremai,Mt. Kawi, Mt. Kelud, Mt. Semeru and Mt. Raung), Sulawesi (Mt.Lompobatang and Mt. Rantekombala), Bali (Mt. Batur and Mt.Agung), Lombok (Mt. Rinjani) and Sumbawa (Mt. Tambora). The