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
Geographic coordinates: 5 00 S, 120 00 E
Map references: Southeast Asia
Area: total: 1,919,440 sq km
Land: 1,826,440 sq km
Water: 93,000 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 2,830 km
Border countries: East Timor 228 km, Malaysia 1,782 km, Papua New Guinea 820 km


54,716 km

Maritime claims

measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


Tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands


Mostly coastal lowlands; larger islands have interior mountains

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Puncak Jaya 5,030 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)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 161
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 507
Pipelines: condensate 850 km; condensate/gas 128 km; gas 8,506 km; oil 7,472 km; oil/gas/water 66 km; refined products 1,329 km (2004)
Railways: total: 6,458 km 
Roadways: total: 368,360 km


21,579 km (2005)

Merchant marine

Total: 750 ships (1000 GRT or over) 3,431,605 GRT/4,598,038 DWT
By type: barge carrier 1, bulk carrier 38, cargo 422, chemical tanker 18, container 41, liquefied gas 6, livestock carrier 1, passenger 40, passenger/cargo 37, petroleum tanker 126, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 13, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 2
Foreign-owned: 25 (France 1, Japan 4, South Korea 1, Philippines 1, Singapore 14, Switzerland 2, UK 2)
Registered in other countries: 117 (The Bahamas 2, Belize 2, Bermuda 1, Cambodia 1, Denmark 1, Georgia 1, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 3, Liberia 1, Malta 1, Panama 50, Singapore 49, Thailand 1, unknown 3) (2005)

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

Brunei - Burma - Cambodia - China - East Timor - Hong Kong - Indonesia - Japan - Macau - Malaysia - North Korea -Philippines - Russia - Singapore - South Korea - Taiwan - Thailand - Vietnam

Further Reading

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