The Mightiest Indonesian Archipelago

The Mightiest Indonesian Archipelago

Galunggung Volcano
Preceding pages, aftermath of the eruption of Galunggung Volcano in West Java. Left, Mt. Mahameru makes a magnificent appearance above the clouds. Right, hiking through the Borneo rainforest in Dayak country

The Indonesian Archipelago is by far the world's largest-13,617 islands strewn across 5,120 kms (3,200 miles) of tropical seas. When superimposed on a map of North America, this means that Indonesia stretches from Oregon all the way to Bermuda. On a map of Europe, the archipelago extends from Ireland past the Caspian Sea. Of course, four-fifths of the intervening area is occupied by ocean, and many of the islands are tiny, no more than rocky outcrops populated, perhaps, by a few seabirds. But 3,000 Indonesian islands are large enough to be inhabited and New Guinea and Borneo rank as the second and third largest in the world (after Greenland). Of the other major islands, Sumatra is slightly larger than Sweden or California; Sulawesi is roughly the size of Great Britain, and Java alone is as large as England or New York State. With a total land area of 2.02 million sq kms (780,000 sq miles), Indonesia is the world's fourteenth largest political unit.

Befitting its reputation as the celebrated Spice Islands of the East, this archipelago also constitutes one of the most diverse and biologically fascinating corners of our planet. Unique geologic and climatic conditions have created spectacularly varied tropical habitats-from the exceptionally fertile rice lands of Java and Bali to the luxuriant rainforests of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Maluku, to the savannah grasslands of Nusa Tenggara and the snowcapped peaks of lrian. Found here are an amazing variety of spice, aromatic had hardwood trees (clove, nutmeg, sandalwood, camphor, ebony, ironwood and teak, among others), many unusual fruits (durian, rambutan, lengkeng, salak, blimbing, nangka, manggis, jambu), the world's largest flower (the Rafflesia), the largest lizard (Komodo's monitor), many rare animal species found nowhere else (like the orangutan, the Javan rhinoceros and the Sulawesian anoa-a dwarf buffalo), thousands of varieties of butterflies and wild orchids, and many exquisite plum-age birds-- like the cockatoo and the bird of paradise.

The geological history of the region is complex. All of the islands are relatively young; the earliest dates only from the end of the Miocene, l5 million years ago-just yesterday on the geological time scale. Since that time, the whole archipelago has been the scene of violent tectonic activity, as islands were torn from jostling super continents or pushed up by colliding oceanic plates, and then enlarged in earth wrenching volcanic explosions. The process continues today-Australia is drifting slowly northward, as the immense Pacific plate presses south and west to meet it and the Asian mainland. The islands of Indonesia lie along the lines of impact, a fact that is reflected in their geography and in the great seismic instability of the region.

The islands fall into three main categories of Indonesian Archipelago. Firstly, the large islands of western Indonesia: Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo) and Java, together with several smaller adjacent ones (the Riau chain, Bangka, Billiton, Madura and Bali) all rest on the broad Sunda continental shelf that extends down from the Southeast-Asian mainland. The intervening Java Sea is thus very shallow, no more than 100 meters (328 feet)deep at its lowest point, and in fact these islands were often connected to each other and to the mainland during the lce Ages, when sea levels receded as much as 200 meters worldwide and the entire Sunda shelf was exposed as a huge subcontinent. Now these islands are fringed with broad plains that are continually expanding. as new alluvial deposits collect and reclaim the shallow sea.

Vast New Guinea and the tiny islands that dot the neighboring Arafura sea, are connected in similar way by the Sahul continual shelf to Australia. New Guinea was in fact torn off from Australia long ago During a rift movement of the earth's crust.

In between those continental Shelves lie Sulawesi (The Celebes), Maluku and Nusa Tenggara (the Lesser Sundas) – several rugged island arcs which rise from a deep geosynclines that drops as much as 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) below the water's surface.

Geologically all these islands were created Along fault lines where the various tectonic plates of the earth's crust collided and folded at the edges. Subsequently, volcanoes arose along several of these same fault lines.

It is possible to distinguish between two sets of symmetrical folds for each island chain in the archipelago: an older, non-volcanic outer fold and a younger, intensely volcanic inner fold. Running down the west coast of Sumatra is a non-volcanic outer range known as the Mentawai chain of islands. This continues as the southern coastal ranges of Java, Bali, Lombok and western. Sumbawa, and then splits off to form the non volcanic islands of Sumba. Roti. Sawu. Timor, and Tanimbar farther to the east. Parallel to this is an inner, highly volcanic fold that forms the central mountain spines of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, and Flores, running through Alor and Wetar to the Banda islands in the east.

Portuguese map of Southeast AsiaEarly 16th Century Portuguese map of Southeast Asia with much ofthe Indonesian archipelago undrawn

Though structurally less well defined, a similar non-volcanic outer fold in the east forms the central ranges of New Guinea, Seram, Buru, and eastern Sulawesi, while an inner volcanic range runs up the western and northern sides of Sulawesi and Halmahera to the Philippines. Within this schema, Borneo forms. along with the Malay peninsula and the mainland, and old and stable non-volcanic core arnd Sulawesi, due to its intermediary position, is geologically the most confused a young volcanic arc (the southwestern central-northern range) welded onto an older, non-volcanic one (the eastern and south-eastern arms).

A Volcanic Legacy

The importance of volcanoes in Indonesia cannot be overstated. Not only do they dominate the landscape of many islands with majestic smoking cones, they also fundamentally alter their size and soils spewing forth millions of tons of ash and debris at irregular intervals. Much of this eventually gets washed down to form gently slopping alluvial plains. Where the ejecta is acidic. the land is infertile and practically useless for agricultural purposes.But where it is basic, as on Java and Bali and in a few scattered localities on other islands. it has Produced the most spectacularly fertile tropical soils in the world.

Of the hundreds of volcanoes, in lndonesia, over 70 remain active and hardly a year passes without a major eruption. On such a densely populated island as Java, this inevitably brings death and destruction. When Mt. Galunggung erupted in West Java in 1982, Many were killed and about 4 million were directly affected through loss of home, land and livelihood.

Yet Galunggung was only a small eruption. Tiny Mt. Krakatau off Java's west coast erupted in 1883 with a force equivalent to that of several hydrogen bombs, creating tidal waves that killed more than 35,00b people on Java. The bang of this eruption, 18 times larger than that of Mt. St. Helens, was heard as far away as Colombo and Sydney, and the great quantities of debris hurled into the atmosphere caused vivid sunsets all over the world for three years afterwards.

Even the Krakatau explosion, however, Was dwarfed by the cataclysmic 181"5 eruption of Mt. Tambora on Sumbawa-the largest in recorded history, in which 90,000 people were killed and over 80 cubic kms of ejected material blocked out the sun for many months, producing the famous "years without summer" of 1816. Geologists say that even greater explosions created Sumatra's Lake Toba and Lake Ranau eons ago.


Sumatran volcanoEarly Dutch painting depicts a Sumatran volcano

All of the islands in the archipelago lie within the tropical zone, and the surrounding seas exert everywhere a homogenizing effect on temperatures and humidity, so that local variables like topography, altitude and rainfall produce more variation in climate than do latitude or season. Mean temperatures at sea level are uniform, varying by only a few, degrees throughout the region-, and throughout the year (25-28 C/78-82 FF).

In the mountains, however, the temperature decreases about one degree C (two degrees F) for every 200 meters (656 feet) of-altitude, which makes for a cool, pleasant climate in upland towns like Bandung (in West Java: altitude 900 meters [2,950- it]) and Bukit Tinggi (in West Sumatra: altitude 1,000 meters [3.280 ft]).

Much of the Indonesian Archipelago also lies within the equatorial ever wet zone, where no month passes without several inches of rainfall. Most islands receive considerably more than this during the northeast monsoon, which blows down over the South China Sea picking up moisture, then veers to the northwest across the equator, unleashing drenching precipitation wherever it touches land from November through April. Moreover, the tropical sun and the oceans combine to produce continuously high humidity everywhere, and due to local wind patterns, a few places, like Bogor in West Java, receive rain almost daily-as much as 400 cm (200 inches) of it annually!

The Southeast Monsoon nevertheless tends to counteract this generally high humidity by blowing hot, dry air up from over the Australian landmass between May and October. Though much depends on local topography, on most islands this produces a dry season of markedly reduced precipitation, and as one moves south and eastward in the Indonesian Archipelago, the influence of this dessicating Southeast Monsoon increases dramatically. Thus, for example, Sumba and Timor in the Nusa Tenggara chain have an extremely long dry season, with occasional two years droughts. Similarly, the southern Bukit peninsula in Bali is much drier than the rest of the island. as are parts of Java east and south of Surakarta.

Arboreal Canopies

Ujung KulonMangrovesa long the Cihandeuleum River at Ujung Kulon
in West Java

The vegetation found in different parts of the Indonesian Archipelago varies greatly according to rainfall, soil and altitude. On the wetter equatorial islands. the Luxuriance of the rain forests is simply amazing The main canopy of interlocking tree crowns mar be -10 meters (130 ft) from the ground. with individual trees rising as high as 7 meters (230 ft). Beneath this grows a tangle of palms, lianas, Epiphytic ferns, rattans and bamboos, covered by innumerable lichens, mosses and lower plants.

One would imagine that to support such growth the soils would have to be very rich, but this is generally not so. The rain forests of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Irian typically thrive on very poor and thin soils, that have been heavily leached of minerals by the incessant rains. Cleared of their forest cover by shifting agriculturalists, they support only two or three Meagre crops before being exhausted, eroded or choked with weeds.

How does the rain forest flourish in such circumstances? The answer lies in the nature of its ecosystem, which has brilliantly adapted over millions of years to just such conditions. Essentially, the system holds most of its minerals and nutrients in the form of living tissues. As these die and fall to the ground, they are immediately decomposed and absorbed back up into the system once again. In effect, then, the Rainforest is a self-fertilizing system largely independent of the soil.

On each level, various plants play unique roles in the ecosystem. The upper tree canopy absorbs sunlight and photosyn the-size sit , while maintaining low temperatures and high humidity below. Growth is very slow on the shady lower levels. Lianas wind up from the ground; rattan canes use hooked barbs to grapple and climb; epiphytes simply settle on the branches of big trees.

All plants in the system face shortages of minerals and water, and have therefore developed water storage tubers and other strategies, such as providing shelter and special fluids for ants who in turn deposit their nutrient-rich faces for the plant to use. Some plants resort to piracy, living as parasites-like the garish Rafflesia flower found only in south-central Sumatra, which has no leaves and lives on the ground trailing Tetrastigma vine. Its cabbage-like buds swell and eventually burst open in enermous blooms, five reddish-brown petals splashed with white that can measure one metre across and sometimes weigh nine kgs (20 lbs).

Montane forestMontane forest at Cibodas in West Java

Carnivorous pitcher plants lure unsuspecting insects into liquid-filled cups, where they are dissolved to provide essential nutrients. And the strangler fig settles on a lofty branch, putting down aerial roots that eventually strangle the host tree itself.

Lowland-rain forests display the greatest diversity. Stands of a single tree are rare, rather the lowland forest is composed of a fantastic mosaic of different species, so that in Borneo alone. for example, 3,000 different tree species are known. On this and other islands, many economically valuable hardwood, aromatic and spice trees flourish-including teak, ebony, sandalwood, camphor, clove and nutmeg trees, as well as exotic fruit-bearing species: durian, rambutan, jackfruit, salak, jambu, tamarind, breadfruit and hundreds of varieties of banana and fruit-bearing palms. In New Guinea more than 2,500 species of wild orchids are found in the rainforest, including the world's largest-the tiger orchid (Grammatophyllum Speciosum) with its three meter-long spray of yellow-orange blooms.

Alpine Forests and Mangrove Swamps

cacao treeFruit of the cacao tree

At high altitudes, temperatures drop and cloud cover increases, resulting in slower growth, fewer species and less complex structure. Rain forest give way to more specialized montane forests, dominated by chestnuts, laurels and oaks. Higher up, one finds rhododendrons and stunted moss forests-dwarf trees draped in lichens. Higher still, there are alpine meadows with Giant edelweiss and other plants more reminiscent of Switzerland than Indonesia. This unexpected habitat can be seen a t Mt. Gede National Park, only 100k ms ( 62m iles) south of hot, humid Jakarta. Indonesia's highest peaks, the Lorentz mountains of Irian Jaya, rise to over 5,000 meters (16,000 feet), and are clad in permanent now fields and glaciers, the only rice fields in the eastern tropics.

Other specialized forests grow on ultra basic rocks, on limestone Karsts, in young volcanic areas and in poorly drained swamps where lack of aeration leads to the build-up of acid peat. In the vast tidal zones of eastern Sumatra, Kalimantan and southern Irian, specialized mangrove trees with looping roots and air-breathing nodules flourish. These trap silt washed down by rivers and creep slowly forward behind a wall of growing coral, forming new land. Mangrove swamps are inhabited by fiddler crabs, fish that skip out of the water, dancing fireflies and the amazing proboscis monkey unique to Borneo.

Moving east from central Java across Bali and Nusa Tenggara, the climate becomes drier and lowland jungles are replaced by deciduous monsoon forests and open savannah grasslands. Depending on how dry the climate is, these forests are partly or wholly deciduous, with fewer species and many broad-leaf trees like teak, which shed their leaves during the dry season. This renders them highly vulnerable to forest fires, and indeed most of the natural forests on Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores and Timor have been either cut or burned off in recent centuries by man. The exposed land has then been devoured by voracious alang-alang (elephant grasses), so that today there are only useless grasslands and scrub where once there were valuable hardwood forests.

Rice in in SumbaA wet-rice paddy in Sumba is "ploughed" by water buffal

Man's presence in the archipelago has not always had an adverse impact on the environment. Indeed, since prehistoric times, man has created exceptionally productive agricultural environments on islands like Java and Bali. This was accomplished through the introduction of irrigated wet rice cultivation to areas that already possessed soil and climatic conditions ideal for agriculture.

Not only are Java and Bali among the few islands where volcanic ejecta is basic and not acidic, so that frequent volcanic eruptions have in fact continually improved the soils by adding mineral-rich nutrients, but they are also areas which achieve something of a golden mean in climate, between the incessant rainfall of the equatorial islands and the extended droughts oT Nusa Tenggara. Java and Bali receive plentiful rainfall and sunshine during alternating dry and wet seasons, each of which lasts half of the year.

It remained, then, for man to harness these natural blessings to his advantage, through the construction of elaborate irrigation networks and labor-intensive wet-rice paddies. The results have been astounding-rice yields under traditional conditions (i.e. before the use of chemical fertilizers and miracle rice strains) that are by far the highest in the world. Such extraordinary fecundity, responsible in great measure for the numerous cultural achievements of the Javanese and the Balinese, has now resulted in runaway population growth. Java today supports 100 million people, two-thirds of Indonesia's population, on only seven per cent of the nation's total land area. This represents an average of over 750 persons per sq km (2.000 per sq mile)-more than twice that of densely populated industrial nations like Japan and Holland. And in many areas of Java, average rural population densities actually soar to an incredible 2,000 persons per sq km (5,000 per sq mile)!

The situation on other islands stands in marked contrast to this. The remaining 50 million Indonesians live spread over more than 90 per cent of the Indonesian Archipelago, with an average population density of only 35 per sq km (90 per sq mile). On some islands, like Kalimantan and Irian,Jaya, this figure drops to around 10 per sq km.

>lontar palmClimbing a lontar palm for tuak

Partly in view of this dramatic population imbalance and partly because of the historical importance of Java as a political center of gravity within the Indonesian Archipelago, many observers tend to distinguish between an Inner Indonesia (i.e. Java and Bali, including Madura and West Lombok) and an Outer Indonesia (all other islands).

Whereas Inner Indonesia has been characterized for centuries by high population densities and labour-intensive irrigated agriculture, Outer Indonesia is the home, traditionally, of dense rain forests, thinly-spread shifting agricultural communities and riverie trading networks. Now, the Outer Islands are also the source of almost all valuable exports: rubber and palm oil (from Sumatran estates), petroleum, copper, tin and bauxite (from Sumatra, Bangka, Billiton and Irian Jaya) and timber (from Kalimantan).

In a sense, the serious ecological problems of over-populated Inner Indonesia are now being exported to the Outer Islands. Java has already suffered for some time from problems of erosion, soil exhaustion and pollution. Now, as the nation's export resources are increasingly being called upon to support a burgeoning population, there are the beginnings of massive deforestation, leading to erosion and the replacement of rainforest by useless grassland.

tea plantationA tea plantation in the cool uplands of Java

These problems have been recognized by the Indonesian government. Realizing, for example, that if indiscriminate clear-felling in Kalimantan timber concessions continues at its present rate, there will be no lowland forest left by the end of the century, they are taking steps to encourage selective cutting and reforestation. Moreover, six per cent of the nation's land has been set aside as nature reserves and national parks. These are not just for the protection of a few wild animals-they safeguard a genetic treasure trove containing many species that may be valuable to man, as well as providing watershed protection and recreational facilities.

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Indonesia Since Independence Day

Indonesia Since Independence Day

Indonesia Since Independence Day, Euphoria swept through the cities and towns of Indonesia following the withdrawal of Dutch forces and the secular of Indonesian sovereignty. Mass rallies and processions were held: flag-waving crowds thronged the streets shouting the magical words: " Merdeka, Merdeka!" (Freedom, freedom!). Independence had come at last, and though many obstacles remained Indonesian felt that nothing was impossible now that they held their destiny in their own hands.

Meanwhile. in Jakarta. the slow and arduous process of constructing a peacetime Government had begun. And while the uni-flying power of th6 revolution had done much to forge a coherent state, the fact of Indonesia's remarkable ethnic, religious and ideological diversity remained. Moreover, massive economic and social problems faced the new nation-a legacy of colonialism and war. Factories and plantations were shut down, capital and skilled personnel were scarce, rice production was insufficient to meet demand, the Indonesian people were overwhelmingly poor and illiterate, and the population was growing at an unprecedented.

Gunung Sahara Street(Jakarta's Gunung Sahara Street in the early fifties, a time of national reconstruction)

The inability of any single political group of Indonesia since independence day to effectively dominate it to others clearly called for a system of government in which a variety of interests could be represented. Largely due to the high profile of Dutch-educated intellectuals among the nationalists, a western-style parliamentary system of government was adopted.

From the beginning of Indonesia since independence day, however, the existence of more than 30 rival parties paralyzed the system. A string of weak coalition cabinets rose and fell at the rate of almost one a year, and attempts at cooperation were increasingly stymied not only by a growing ideological polarization, but also by religous and regional loyalties. Parties became more and more preoccupied with ensuring their own survival and less and less attentive toward the nation's pressing economic and social needs,frustrating those who wished to see the revolution produce more tangible results. Most impatient of.all were Sukarno, whose powers as President had been limited b-ythe provisional constitution of 1950, and the army leadership, who felt that their key role during the revolution entitled them to a greater political say.

A series of-uprisings by disaffected groups in Sumatra, North Sulawesi and West Java ever-popular Sukarno declared martial law and give a free hand to crush the rebels. By 1959. with the rebellions under control, Sukarno resurrected the '-revolutionary" constitution of 1945 and declared the beginning of Guided Democracy.

Guided Democracy
1959 - 1965

Indonesia since independence day, under the new political system, power as focused in the hands of the President and the army leadership, at the expense of political parties, whom Sukarno now resarded as counter-revolutionary. Militant nationalism became Sukarno's new recipe for national integration, and the blame for all sorts of economic and political problems was placed squarely at the feet of foreign imperialism and colonialism. In the international arena, Sukarno had, in 1955, made a significant impact by convening the Asia Africa Conference in Bandung. Attended by leaders such as Chou En-lai, Nehru and Nassar, the conference led to the formation of a non-aligned movement and placed Indonesia in the forefront among emergent Third World nations.

Soekarno Hatta CabinetSukarno (center) with his first cabinet, of which Hatta (right of Sukarno) was vice-president

In the early 1960s Soekarno's anti-colonial sentiments took a more militant turn. A long and successful campaign to wrest control of western New Guinea from the Dutch was followed closely by military confrontation with newly independent Malaysia, in 1963. Sukarno's audacity and growing contempt for the United States ("To hell with your aid!" he told the Americans) earned him the reputation of infant terrible among Asian leaders.

Soekarno's nationalistic 6lan was in some ways just what Indonesia needed. Many Indonesians saw in him a kind of father figure-a natural leader who offered a vision of a strong and independent Indonesia not seen since the 14th Century, during the reign of the powerful empire,of Majapahit.

Yet Soekarno's reliance on his charisma, and his lack of attention to day-to-day administration created a vacuum in which the government and the nation floundered. While Soekarno attempted to offset the growing influence of the military by identifying himself more closely with the most active of the civilian parties, the communist PKI, the nation's economy ground to a halt. Foreign investment fled, deficits left the government bankrupt and inflation skyrocketed to an annual rate of 680 per cent. By 1965, the year that Sukarno christened, "The Year of Living Dangerously," social, cultural and political ferment was intense.

The 1965 Coup

The political tinderbox was ignited in the early hours of Oct 1, 1965 when with the apparent encouragement of the PKI. a group of radical young army officers kidnaped and brutally .Executed six leading generals, claiming that they were plotting against the President. Failing to gain Soekarno's backing. however. the rebel officers soon lost the initiative to General Soeharto, then head of the elite Army Strategic Reserve. In the space of a few hours.Soeharto moved to assume command of the army and to crush the attempted coup.

Soekarno and Nehru( Nehru (left) standing with Sukarno(right) During a state visit of 1957)

The nation was shocked by news of the generals' execution.and. although the exact extent to which PKI leaders were involved is still not clear, the communists were charged with attempting to overthrow the government. A state of anarchy ensued, in which moderate, Muslim and army elements sought to settle the score. Thousands upon thousands were killed as long-simmering frustrations erupted into mob violence first in northern Sumatra, then later in Java,Bali and Lombok. The bloodletting continued for months, and the period 1965-66 is remembered today as the darkest in the Republic's history. Jakarta. a political struggle broke out between the army, supported by students, intellectuals. Muslims and other middle-class groups on the one hand, and Sukarno, with his considerable populist/nationalist following on the other. Finally on March 11th, 1966, Sukarno was persuaded to sign a document bestowing wide powers on General Suharto.

Although Suharto was not formally installed as Indonesia's second president until 1968, immediate reforms were carried out under his direction. Martial law was declared and order was restored. 'the communist party, Marxist-Leninist teachings were outlawed. The civil administration was radically restructured and restaffed by military personnel. A major realignment in foreign policy restored relations with the United States and the West, while severing ties with China and the Soviet Union.

Economic 'New Order"

Indonesia since independence day building its political legitimacy upon promises to revive the moribund Indonesian economy, the new Suharto administration wasted no time in addressing the fundamental problems of inflation and stagnation. American-trained economists were called upon to over see the rapid reintegration of Indonesia into the world economy. and in a short space of time, foreign investment laws were liberalized, monetary controls were imposed, and western aid was sought and received to replenish the nation's exhausted foreign exchange reserves. These measures formed the cornerstones of Suharto's economic "new order." and served to dramatically curb inflation and to set the nation on a course of rapid economic growth by the early l970s.

Soekarno and Soeharto(Right, Soekarno reads a statement to the press handing over power,
while his success or Suharto looks on)

Indonesian first five-year plan. Repelita I was design to encourage growth by attracting foreign investment. Most of the targets of the plan were achieved-a first wave of investors moved in to take advantage of Indonesia's vast natural reserves of copper,tin, timber and oil, setting up facilities to extract these raw materials in Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Irian Jaya. As the political stability of the region seemed more assured a second wave of investors, largely Japanese and local Chinese, set up a wide variety of urban-based manufacturing industries. By 1915, textile manufacturing alone accounted for US$708 million worth of investments, and the economy was rocketing.

By far the greatest benefits, however, came from oil. The story began in northern Sumatra in 1883 when a Dutch planter took shelter from a storm in a native shed and noticed a wet torch burning brightly. Inquiring about this, he was led to a near by spring where a black viscous substance lay thick across the water. The discovery soon led to the formation of Royal Dutch shell Company, and eventually to the establishment of Indonesia as the world's fifth largest OPEC producer.

From a total of US$323million in i966, oil exports rose to US$5.2 billion in 1974, largely due to the steep OPEC price hikes of the early 1970s. Now oil has come to account for roughly 60 per cent of the state's total revenues, and the flood of petrodollars has been used to fund not only a number of capital works programs but also a significant upgrading of the nation's huge civil service.The most impressive advances have been in education. particularly at the primary level. Between 1912 and [97t1. no less than 26,677 primary schools were built, bringing the percentage of children enrolled from 69 to 84. Primary school teachers now account for roughly I third of the nation's 2.3 million government employees.

Indonesia's civil service though is not without its problems. Despite 106 per cent across-the-board wage hikes in the early 1970s,pay levels remain low. In 1983,over 70 per cent of civil servants were receiving less than US$20 per week. Inefficiency and corruption are the result, compounding a serious lack of expertise and training. Only 26 per cent of all government employees (including teachers)have more than a junior high school education.

A different sort of problem arose within the government body responsible for the oil bonanza, the State Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Pertamina. In the early 1970s, under the direction of Colonel Ibnu Sutowo. Pertamina poured huge sums of money into projects intended to reduce Indonesia's dependence on foreign technology and imports. These included a floating fertilizer plant to be anchored over offshore gas fields, the massive Krakatau steel mill in West Java, a three-million-ton tanker fleet, petrochemical and refining plants, as well as several non-industrial projects such as a first-class hospital, a sports stadium, a chain of hotels, an airline and a golf course.

Liberation of lrian Jaya(In Jakarta, the monument commemorating
the "liberation" of lrian Jaya)

Ibnu Sutowo's flamboyant spending came to an abrupt halt in 1975, when Pertamina announced that it was defaulting on one of its foreign bank loans. Sutowo,it turned out, had recklessly borrowed money that he had no chance of repaying, clocking up over $10 billion in foreign debts in the process!In the end, the Indonesian government was saddled with one of the largest peace time losses any country has ever suffered, and many industrial projects had to be scrapped or rescheduled.

Peace and Progress

Despite these and other problems, the 1970s and early 1980s have been characterized by relative political stability. The tenor of the Suharto regime and its supporters is well caught by the slogan, "Development yes,politics n-o!"Opposition political parties have been restricted and closely supervised, managing to poll only 40 per cent in the 1971 election and even less in 1977 and 1982. The big winner. meanwhile, has been the government's political "functional" group, Golkar, consisting of representatives chosen from various professional, religious, ethnic and military constituencies.

Yet politics refused to go away entirely. A proposed secular marriage law brought an angry response from Indonesia's Muslim majority in 1973 and had to be dropped. And pressure has mounted for the government to provide for a greater distribution of the wealth and benefits of economic growth, to curb the level of foreign debt, to contain inflation and to eradicate corruption. Frustration, particularly over economic matters, has erupted in the past, notably on the occasion of Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka's visit to Jakarta in I974, when the capital was rocked by two days of violent student demonstrations.

Among the influential middle class, however, opposition has been muted by the very prosperity the "New Order" has helped to generate. Most Indonesians consider themselves better off today than ever before-there are far more cassette players, motorbikes, cars, telephones, televisions and other consumer goods around than there have ever been.

Striking advances have also been made in the vital areas of population control and agriculture. In 1980, Indonesia's population was counted at 147 million. Java and Bali are the most seriously over crowded islands,representing only seven per cent of Indonesia's total land area, while housing two thirds of her people-equivalent to the entire population of the United States occupying the state of California.

The government first attempted to ease the pressure with transmigration-the resettlement of Javanese and Balinese villagers to the sparsely populated islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. Transmigration has proved slow and costly, though, and since 1970 has been complemented by an intensive family planning campaign, that has managed to reduce the birth rate from over two per cent to around 1.8 per cent per annual.

Directly linked to the population situation is the challenge of food production. The a highest,priority has been given to rice, lndonesia's staple food. The introduction of new high-yield plant strains, multiple croppings better irrigation, chemical fertilizers and pesticides has resulted in a spectacular 50 per cent increase in rice production between 1974 and 1984, A government rice stockpiling and distribution network has also reduced the threat of famine. stabilized prices and provided credits and subsidies to farmers.

oil exploration in Sumatra(Early oil exploration in Sumatra-where Indonesia's vital
oil revenue originated)

The problem has not yet been solved, however. Bad weather and insect infestations caused serious shortfalls in 1977. forcing Indonesia to import one third of the world's surplus rice. Since then, the introduction of a new pest-resistant rice strain and further intensification has raised average yields by 2l per cent, making Indonesia virtually self-sufficient in rice. Whether levels of production can keep pace with the rapidly increasing demand is the central question.The weather,of course,remains a key variable, though increase irrigation is reducing some of the uncertainty.

Indonesia OPEC producer(As the world'sfifth largest OPEC producer,the nation's economy is heavily dependent on oil)

Other food and export crops have not fared so well. Production of vital crops such as rubber. copra, peanuts,oil palms, soybeans, cassava and maize has remained virtually stagnant over the past decade, and in some cases has actually declined. Sugar has been the notable exception. and is a possible model for future governmental intervention in other areas. Where as Indonesia spent US$700 million on sugar imports in 1981, increased cultivation and higher price incentives reduced the figure US$261 million in l982 and Indonesia now a nett exporter of sugar.

On the intensely cultivated island of Java it is estimated trait only a quarter of the population own land. And as the population expands, so agriculture absorbs a progressively smaller percentage of the total labor force. In 1960 the figure was over 75 per cent, while now only about 55 per cent of Javanese are engaged in food production. This has created a massive unemployment problem, in which millions of landless laborers have moved into the cities to seek work.

Some of these migrants have been absorbed into the budding manufacturing sector. Yet despite the priority afforded the development of an urban industrial base in the government's second five-year plan, repelita II, job opportunities in industry have not managed to keep pace with a labor force that is growing by 1.4 million a year. As a result, these young people lead a hand-to-mouth existence in the cities--driving pedicabs, peddling noodles and fried bananas, selling cigarettes, shining shoes and scavenging from garbage dumps. Their plight represents one of the major challenges facing Indonesia now.

Unfortunately. "the world economic recession and oil glut of the early l9S0s has created financial circumstances which have temporarily pushed all other problems to the rear. Indonesia has recently been forced to cut back oil production and to reduce prices significantly. The resulting drop in oil revenues exacerbated by the declining value of other key exports and reductions in foreign industrial investment, has led to a critical shortage of foreign exchange and a drop in the economic growth rate to only two per cent in 1982.

The guiding principles of the government's present economic strategy are export promotion and import substitution-selling more abroad and importing less. Oil refining is one area in which significant advances have been made towards the goal of self-sufficiency. Indonesia now boasts eight state-run refineries, the largest of which are in central Java and east Kalimantan, and refining capacity is now supply in gall of the domestic demand for kerosene and gasoline.

Significant savings have also been realized through domestic fertilizer production. Indonesia's first plant was opened at Palembang, South Sumatra, in 1964 with a capacity of I00,000 tons per year. Fed by abundant supplies of local natural gas, the state-owned plant has over the years developed into the world's largest urea-producing complex,now turning out more than 1.6 million tons a year.

In the realm of exports, lndonesia's most promising source of revenue is natural gas. Massive reserves totaling over 7l trillion cubic meters were discovered in east Kalimantan and in Aceh, northern Sumatra. In 197l, Since then, liquid natural gas (LNG) plants have been set into operation at both sites, and Indonesia now ranks as the world's number one exporter of LNG, with 1982 revenues of over US$2.6 billion.

Yet another industrial priority has been cement production. In the past decade the number of plants has more than trebled, and production has risen twelve fold.

Indonesia's other manufacturing industries are more embryonic. Almost 90 per cent of those employed in this sector work in small-scale cottage industries, producing basic items such as salt, coconut oil and furniture.Larger factories more dependent upon imported machinery and capital have had some success in supplying consumer goods for the local market in recent years.In 1982, for example, Indonesia produced 847,000 television sets, assembled 210,000 cars and trucks and over half-a-million motor bikes.

Indonesia exporter of natural gas(Indonesia is also the world's exporter of natural gas)

The government has pinned its future hope son labour-intensive,export-oriented manufacturing and they are predicting an industrial "take-off " for Indonesia during the latter half of the 1980s. It is hoped that this will provide jobs and prosperity for a population that is expected to reach 1 212 million by the year 2,000.

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