Cruising in Indonesia
The Dutch began to colonize Indonesia in the early 17th century; the islands were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. Indonesia declared its independence after Japan's surrender, but it required four years of intermittent negotiations, recurring hostilities, and UN mediation before the Netherlands agreed to relinquish its colony. Indonesia is the world's largest archipelagic state and home to the world's largest Muslim population.
Current issues include: alleviating poverty, preventing terrorism, consolidating democracy after four decades of authoritarianism, implementing financial sector reforms, stemming corruption, and holding the military and police accountable for human rights violations. Indonesia was the nation worst hit by the December 2004 tsunami, which particularly affected Aceh province causing over 100,000 deaths and over $4 billion in damage.
An additional earthquake in March 2005 created heavy destruction on the island of Nias. Reconstruction in these areas may take up to a decade. In 2005, Indonesia reached a historic peace agreement with armed separatists in Aceh, but it continues to face a low intensity separatist guerilla movement in Papua.
Location: Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Indian Ocean and
the Pacific Ocean
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
Tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands
Mostly coastal lowlands; larger islands have interior mountains
Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Indonesia, a vast polyglot nation, has struggled to overcome the Asian financial crisis, and still grapples with high unemployment, a fragile banking sector, endemic corruption, inadequate infrastructure, a poor investment climate, and unequal resource distribution among regions. Indonesia became a net oil importer in 2004 because of declining production and lack of new exploration investment. The cost of subsidizing domestic fuel placed increasing strain on the budget in 2005, and combined with indecisive monetary policy, contributed to a run on the currency in August, prompting the government to enact a 126% average fuel price hike in October.
The resulting inflation and interest rate hikes will dampen growth prospects in 2006. Keys to future growth remain internal reform, building up the confidence of international and domestic investors, and strong global economic growth. In late December 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami took 131,000 lives with another 37,000 missing, left some 570,000 displaced persons, and caused an estimated $4.5 billion in damages and losses. Terrorist incidents in 2005 have slowed tourist arrivals. Indonesia experienced several human cases of avian influenza in late 2005, sparking concerns of a pandemic.
Airports: 668 (2005)
21,579 km (2005)
Total: 750 ships (1000 GRT or over) 3,431,605 GRT/4,598,038 DWT
Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals
Banjarmasin, Belawan, Ciwandan, Krueg Geukueh, Palembang, Panjang, Sungai Pakning, Tanjung Perak, Tanjung Priok
East Timor-Indonesia Boundary Committee continues to meet, survey, and delimit land boundary, but several sections of the boundary remain unresolved; many East Timorese refugees who left in 2003 still reside in Indonesia and refuse repatriation; Indonesia and East Timor contest the sovereignty of the uninhabited coral island of Pulau Batek/Fatu Sinai, which hinders a decision on a northern maritime boundary; a 1997 treaty between Indonesia and Australia settled some parts of their maritime boundary but outstanding issues remain.
ICJ's award of Sipadan and Ligitan islands to Malaysia in 2002 left maritime boundary in the hydrocarbon-rich Celebes Sea in dispute, culminating in hostile confrontations in March 2005 over concessions to the Ambalat oil block; the ICJ decision has prompted Indonesia to assert claims to and to establish a presence on its smaller outer islands.
Indonesia and Singapore pledged in 2005 to finalize their 1973 maritime boundary agreement by defining unresolved areas north of Batam Island; Indonesian secessionists, squatters, and illegal migrants create repatriation problems for Papua New Guinea; piracy remains a problem in the Malacca Strait
Other Sailing Destinations in the Region