Consisting of more than 17,000 islands, the vast Indonesian archipelago spans 5,120 km across the equator, positioned between the Asian and Australian continents. Four-fifths of the area is sea with the major islands of Sumatera, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. The 300 ethnic groups that exist harmoniously give birth to a potpourri of cultures and fascinating people. The major ethnic groups are: Minangkabaunese, Malay, Javanese, Sundanese, Maduranese and Ambonnese. Arab, Chinese and Indian immigrants have also settled in regions throughout the country, particularly in the coastal cities.

Geographically, Indonesia's landscape is greatly varied. Java and Bali have the most fertile islands and rice fields are concentrated in these two regions, whereas Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua are still largely covered with tropical rainforest. Open savannah and grassland characterize Nusa Tenggara.

The lowland that comprise most of Indonesia has a characteristically tropical climate with abundant rainfall, high-temperatures and humidity. Rainy Indonesia's tropical climate and unique geographical character provide shelter for flora and fauna that are as diversely rich as its land and people. The plant and animals in Indonesia's western region represent that of mainland Asia while those in the eastern region are typical of Australia. Endemic species, which are the pride of Indonesia exist in the central region, such as orangutans, tigers, one-horned rhinos, elephants, dugongs, anoas and komodo dragons. The warm tropical waters of the archipelago nurture a rich marine environment that holds a myriad of fish, coral species and marine mammals.

A cultural heritage passed on through generations offers a wealth of traditional arts and crafts. Batik, wooden carvings, weavings, silverworks and many other traditional skills produce exquisitely beautiful items. Indonesia's multi-racial and multi-religious culture mean festivals steeped in traditions are celebrated throughout the year.

Frequently featured in these events are dances, wayang theaters and other performing arts.
Useful Information

General Information

A tropical country, with humidity ranging from 69% - 95%, there are two seasons: Dry Season, from May to October and Wet Season, from November to April. It should be noted that occasional showers do occur during the dry season; similarly, during the "rainy" season it is more likely that heavy tropical down-pours are interspersed with sunshine. Average temperatures range from 68 to 86 or 20 to 30C

Airport Tax and Transport
Passengers departing on international and domestic flights have to pay Rp. 50,000 and Rp. 11,000 airport tax respectively.

Metered taxis are available only at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta. At other major Indonesian airports, taxis operate on a fixed rate basis.

From Jakarta airport, all taxi fares include a surcharge of Rp. 2,300 and a highway toll of at least Rp. 4,000, depending on destination. The surcharge does not apply to trips to the airport, though the highway toll does.

Health Certificates
International certificates for smallpox and cholera are not required and yellow fever vaccination are necessary only for visitors coming from infected areas.

Each adult is permitted to bring, on entry, a maximum of two litres of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco and a reasonable quantity of perfume. Photographic equipment and typewriters must be declared and are admitted provided they are taken out on departure. Prohibited from entry are the fol lowing items: narcotics, arms and ammunition, TV sets, radio and radio casette recorders, pornography, fresh fruit, printed matters in Chinese characters and Chinese medicine. All movie films and video casettes will have to be deposited for review by the Film Censor Board. There is no restriction on import and export of foreign currencies and travellers cheque; however, import or export Indonesia currency exceeding Rp 50,000,- is prohibited.

Major hotels add a 10% service charge to bills. Where it is not included a tip of between 5% to 10% of the bill would be appropriate if service is satisfactory. Airport poterage is Rp 500,- for a small bag and Rp 1,000,- if weighing more than 20 kg. Tipping taxi and hire-car drivers is not mandatory, but Rp 500,would be sufficient for a taxi driver, but more for a hire-car driver.

The main staple food of the majority of the population is rice. Coconut milk and hot chili peppers are popular cooking ingredients nationwide. Tastes range from very spicy dishes of meat; fish and vegetables to those that are quite sweet. The most popular dishes are "nasi goreng" (fried rice) which is otten served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, "satay" barbequed meat or chicken on skewers and "gado-gado", a vegetable salad with a pean ut sauce.All are most compatible with internationaltastes. Inthemaintouristcenters and cities, restaurants catering to international visitors are many, from fine continental grill rooms to Japanese specialty restaurants. Chinese restaurants are found in all towns throughout Indonesia. Tropical and subtropical fruits are available yearround. Bottled drinking water can be purchased everywhere.

Many of Indonesia's main cities have department stores, supermarkets and large shopping complexes, open generally from 9 am to 8 pm, where fixed prices prevail. In local markets and small shops bargaining is the rule.

Indonesia streches across three time zones: Western Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, West and Cen tral Kalimantan) + 7 GMT Central Indonesia (Bali, South and East Kalimantan, Sula wesi, Nusa Teng gara) + 8 GMT East Indonesia (Maluku and Irian Jaya) , +9 GMT

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.

Long distance calls within Indonesia may be made by direct dialing through International Direct Dial (IDD) in major cities or through operator-assisted calls. Telex and fax services are readily available in major hotels and larger cities.

Business Related

Office Hours
Business offices are usually open either from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm or 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, with a break for lunch between 12.00 noon and 1.00 pm. but on Saturday many business offices are closed. Government office hours are from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm from Monday to Friday and on Saturday many Government offices are close.

Normal banking hours are from 8.00 am to 2.30 pm from Monday to Friday. Some bank branches in hotels, however, keep longer hours. Jakarta has several international banks but money can also be changed at hotel cashiers, and authorized money changers. Daily exchange rates are published in newspapers.
The US dollar is the most readily accepted currency. Most major tourist destination areas have foreign exchange facilities, but for travel to remote areas, it is advisable to change money and travelers cheques in advance. Credit cards are acceptable only at major hotels, restaurants and travel agencies

The local currency is the Rupiah (comes in denominations of 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5000, 500 and 100 in bank notes, and 1000, 500, 100, 50 and 25 in coins). Foreign currencies, either bank notes or travellers cheques, are easily exchanged at banks and money changers in major tourist destinations. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants in main cities. It is advisable to carry sufficient amounts of Rupiah when travelling to smaller towns or outer provinces.

Open from 8.00am to 4.00pm daily except Sundays and public holidays. Post offices are closed and public holidays.

Do and Don't

When visiting Indonesia, visitors should observe local customs and practices.
Some common courtesies and customs are as follows :
Although handshakes are generally acceptable for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge introductions to gentlemen by merely nodding and smiling.

A handshake should only be initiated by ladies. The traditional greeting or salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp.

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 polite to call before visiting a home.Shoes must always be removed when entering a home. Drinks are generally offered to guests. It is polite to accept.

The right hand is always used when eating with one's hand or giving and receiving objects. The right forefinger is not used to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folded under is the preferred usage.

Shoes must be removed when entering places of worship such as mosques and temples. Some mosques provide robes and scarves for female visitors.

Taking photographs at places of worship is usually permitted but always ask permission beforehand.

Toasting is not a common practice in. The country's large Muslim population does not drink alcohol.

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