This week we’re traveling to Southeast Asia to visit Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populated country!
Indonesia spans 5120 kilometers from east to west, and is made up of over 13,000 islands. Indonesia also has the third most volcanoes in the world, after the United States and Russia. The volcanic island Krakatoa was responsible for an enormous eruption in 1883, creating two huge tsunamis and producing what is considered to be the loudest sound ever heard. Mount Bromo, another volcano, has one of the most spectacular landscapes in Indonesia. Its residents, the Hindu Tengger community, climb the volcano during the annual Kasada ceremony to cast offerings into the inner crater.
Indonesia is also a wonder for animal lovers. It is one out of only 17 countries that host the majority of the Earth’s plant and animal species, and has eight World Heritage Sites. The world’s largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon, is native to Indonesia. It weighs up to 150 pounds (~68 kg) and has fatally toxic bites. Rafflesia arnoldi, the largest individual flower on Earth, is also found in Indonesia. But take caution – it is said to smell like decaying flesh, earning it the nickname "corpse flower".
There are at least 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia, which contribute to its unique cultural diversity. The largest is the Javanese population (41%) that mostly occupies the island of Java. Others include the Sudanese, Malay, Batak, Madurese and Betawi people. Indonesian culture is in fact a reflection of an amalgamation of cultures. In terms of values, Indonesians tend to maintain strong relationships with family and are generally very spiritual. There are six official religions – Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
Indonesians are very artistic people. Balinese dancing incorporates drama and dance through colorful performances that tell stories from the Indian Ramayana or Mahabharata epics. These stories are also told through the wayang (puppet) theater.