Overview in General
Welcome to the largest archipelago of the world; Indonesia, Indonesian archipelago consists of about 17,504 islands. Be sure to enjoy a great time in the islands where adventure is a part and parcel of the daily life. The steamy archipelago constitutes of numerous adventurous activities along with the best of entertainment and other tourists attractions. A vacation in Indonesia is truly a memorable one with all that lies around. The enticing flavors of the exotic spices, the frenzied atmosphere, the vivid colors in the culture and the dramatic landscapes make Indonesia a paradise for the travelers. The country offers unmatched natural beauty which is vivid and rare. The colorful culture of the place leaves every mind thoughtful.
The country is clearly divided into the rural and the urban world with the cities in the country is in a state of constant change and urban development. The cities present a fine blend of dense population, modern construction and developing technology with the age old traditional; way of living. But the beauty of the country lives in its archipelago which is massive in numbers and most of them are still unexplored. So it is true fact that Indonesia still provides the travelers to explore the virgin Islands and discover the secrets of nature that are hidden in the trails of the islands.
The archipelago is so big and is so many in numbers that out of the 13,000 islands only 1500 have been named. The biggest and the most important of the islands is Java. The capital city of Jakarta is situated in Java and is also centrally located. Java also is home to the maximum population among the other islands in the archipelago.
Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world after China, India and the United States of America. Largely a Muslim state, Indonesia is also home to 100 odd ethnic groups scattered around the different islands.
Culture of Indonesia in General.
The culture of Indonesia has took its current shape molded by several influences that have been prevalent in the land, as a result of the long process of interaction and acculturation between original indigenous customs and a multitude of foreign influences. Nestled between the ancient sea trading routes between Far East and Middle East, Indonesian culture, too a large extent has imbibed much of its daily practices and art forms from the Hindu, Buddhist, Confucianism and Islamic influences. These connections are clearly evident mostly in its many trading cities.
The kaleidoscopic cultural hue of Indonesia is largely cosmopolitan and need to be distinguished from the original. The complex nature of this culture can be easily gazed by various lines of faiths adopted by people here, for example: Agama Hindu Dharma, a denomination of Hinduism is now practiced by 93% of Balinese. Other examples are the fusion of Islam with Hindu in Javanese Abangan belief, the fusion of Hinduism, Buddhism and animism in Budha, the fusion of Hinduism and animism in Kaharingan, and many others.
With the diverse influences, shaping up the perspective of the Indonesian people, their lifestyle and values, the impact of the cultural fusion is also noticeable in Indonesian art forms. For instances, wayang- a traditional form of theatre show performed with puppets was used to spread Hinduism and Islam among villagers in Java. Similarly, in various Javanese and Balinese dances, often stories about old Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms are told. In Sumatra, especially in its Minangkabau and Aceh regions, one can see direct architectural inspiration from the Islamic art forms and architectures.
As far as the westernization of culture of Indonesia is concerned, an imprint of it though cannot be ruled out, but it is mostly limited to modern entertainment, such as television shows, movies and songs. One of the major influences in this sphere are the Bollywood songs and movies.
Social Life in General.
There are about 583 traditional languages and dialects spoken in the Indonesia. They normally belong to the different ethnic groups of the population. Some of the distinctly different local languages are : Acehnese, Batak, Sundanese, Javanese, Sasak, Tetum of Timor, Dayak, Minahasa, Torajanese, Makassarese, Buginese, Halmahera, Ambonese, Tolaki, and several Irianese languages. To make the picture even more complex and colorful, these languages are also spoken in different dialects.
Before embarking on a trip to Indonesia, it will be helpful to browse through some information on Indonesian Etiquette, so that you do not hurt the sensibilities of the people, even by mistake, while on a trip there. Further more learning about the Indonesian Etiquette will help you blend in better with the locals and even surprise your host with some pleasant gestures.
As any other place in the world, when visiting Indonesia, visitors should observe the local customs and practices, which are held very dear by the Indonesian people. Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some Muslim women may acknowledge introductions to gentlemen by merely nodding and smiling. A handshake should only be initiated by ladies. There is no grasping in "Salam", in this form of greeting, the man offers both hands, lightly touches his friends outstretched hands, and then brings his hands to his chest to mean, "I greet you from my heart".
The visitor should reciprocate the "salam". It is considered polite to call before visiting a home. Unannounced visits are not expected. Always remove your shoes before entering someone’s home. It is a common practice to offer drinks to guests, so if offered it is polite to accept. Always remove your shoes before entering places of worship such as mosques and temples. Some mosques provide robes and scarves for female visitors to cover there heads before entering the place of worship.
As over 85% of the Indonesian population is Moslem, drinking is not a common practice and hence toasting is not a common practice in here.
Since independence, many people have developed and maintained a strong sense of national pride and traditions of dance, painting, woodcarving and stone carving remain alive today.
- Social courtesies are often formal. When food or drink is served, it should not be touched until the host invites the guest to do so.
- Never accept or pass anything with the left hand.
- Displays of affection in public between men and women are frowned upon and kissing in public will attract a great deal of unnecessary attention.
- Touching a stranger of the same sex while in conversation is usual.
- Pointing is impolite and patting children on the head is discouraged.
- Indonesians people are polite and present endless courtesies to visitors whom they trust and like.
- Smiling is a cultural tradition and Indonesians smile frequently, even when in an uncomfortable or complex situation.
- Visitors should prevent losing their temper.
- When invited to someone's home, a gift is appreciated (as long as it is given with the right hand).
- Informality is normal, but a some smart establishments encourage guests to dress for dinner.
- Safari suits are acceptable for business wear and on formal occasions.
- Muslim customs, particularly concerning female clothes, should be observed.
Indonesia has the second longest coastline in the whole world certain time zones are followed by Indonesia. Basically Indonesia uses three time zones. They are as follows.
- Waktu Indonesia Bagian Barat (WIB).
Waktu Indonesia Bagian Barat is officially known as West Indonesia Time in Indonesia. In Indonesia "Waktu" means time, "Bagian" stands for part and "Barat" stands for west. So, the Waktu Indonesia Bagian Barat means the time which is prevalent in the western part of Indonesia. Waktu Indonesia Bagian Barat or the West Indonesia Time is UTC/GMT +7 hours.
- Waktu Indonesia Bagian Tengah (WITA).
Waktu Indonesia Bagian Tengah is known as the Central Indonesia Time in Indonesia. "Tengah" stands for central in Indonesia. Central Indonesia Time is UTC/GMT +8 hours.
- Waktu Indonesia Bagian Timur (WIT).
Waktu Indonesia Bagian Timur is known as the East Indonesia Time in Indonesia. "Timur" means east in Indonesian language. Waktu Indonesia Bagian Timur or the East Indonesia Time is UTC/GMT +9 hours.
Usually 220 volts AC, 50Hz, there are 110 volts AC, 50Hz, in some rural areas.