Stretching over 3,100 miles (5,000km) from east to west and almost 1,242 miles (2,000km) from north to south, Indonesia straddles the Equator and has a typical equatorial climate. The east monsoon from June to September brings dry weather, while the west monsoon from December to March brings rain. Occasional rain showers occur in between these two seasons as a transitional period.
Mean temperatures at sea level are uniform, varying by only a few degrees throughout the region, and throughout the year 78º- 82ºF (25º- 28ºC). Coastal areas are often pleasantly cool; however, it can get extremely cold in the mountains with temperature decreasing 2ºF (1ºC) for every 656 feet (200m) of altitude, which provides a cool pleasant climate in upland communities.
People and Culture
Indonesia, with over 190 million people, has the fifth largest population in the world. The country is an ethnological goldmine, with 336 ethnic groups joined together by a unifying language and through intermarriage. Indonesia can be considered a spectrum of all the Asian cultures, races and religions. Of the 190 million people in the country, 87% are Moslem. The Indonesian Constitution recognizes freedom of religion.
Many parts of Indonesia have remained isolated because of the archipelago's size, jungles, highlands and complex customs. A journey through the country is a journey through time. You will find ways of life that are 5,000 years removed from the world we know. While some Indonesians wear rings and rats' ribs in their noses, yet others read "The Asian Wall Street Journal". If mingling among Indonesia's diverse populations has occurred at all, it has taken place near the sea.
Among Indonesia's diverse peoples, the Balinese are extraordinarily creative with a highly theatrical culture. They are lavish in their colors and decorations and less restrained in their music and dance. The Balinese believe that all natural phenomena have souls. Spirits dominate everything they do, and their lives revolve around offering fruits and flowers to appease the angry gods. Dayak is the collective name for the more than 200 different tribes that comprise Kalimantan's native people. The Javanese (the largest group) originally belonged to the Mongoloid race.
Indonesians in general are friendly, fun-loving people. They are artistic by nature and express themselves in canvas, wood, metals, clay and stone and in their dance and dramas. Ethnic Groups: The majority is of Malay descent; 45% Javanese, 14% Sundanese, 7.5% Madurese, coastal Malays and other 26%.
Languages: Bahasa Indonesia is the official language. There are many dialects. English is the most widely understood foreign language.
Religion: 87% Muslim, 6% Protestant, 3% Roman Catholic, 2% Hindu , 1% Buddhist and 1% other.