Indonesia, Asia & Middle East
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Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world that straddles the Equator between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. While it has land borders with Malaysia to the north as well as East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the east, it also neighbors Australia to the south, and Palau, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand to the north, India to the northwest.
The nation of Indonesia is almost unimaginably vast: More than 17,000 islands providing 108,000 kilometers of beaches. The distance between Aceh in the West and Papua in the East is more than 4,000 kilometers (2500 miles), comparable to the distance between New York City and San Francisco. Laying on the western rim of the Ring of Fire Indonesia has more than 400 volcanoes, of which 130 are considered active, as well as many undersea volcanoes. The island of New Guinea (on which the Indonesian province of Papua is located) is the second largest island in the world.
Provinces are usually grouped around larger islands and include smaller surrounding islands. The listing below follows this practice, except with Bali which is treated as a separate region.
Sumatra (incl. the Riau Islands and Bangka-Belitung) Wild and rugged, the 6th largest island in the world has a great natural and cultural wealth with more than 40 million inhabitants. Habitat to many endangered species.
Kalimantan (Borneo) The vast majority of this, the world's third largest island is covered by the Indonesian province. Uncharted jungles, mighty rivers, home of the orangutan, a paradise for the adventurer. Java (and Madura) The country's heartland, big cities including the capital Jakarta, and a lot of people packed on a not-so-big island. Also features the cultural treasures of Yogyakarta, Borobudur and Prambanan.
Bali By far the most popular visitor destination in Indonesia, Bali's blend of unique culture, legendary beaches and spectacular highland regions make it a perennial favourite amongst global travellers. Administratively part of Nusa Tenggara.
Sulawesi (Celebes) Strangely shaped, this island houses a diversity of societies and some spectacular scenery, Toraja culture, rich flora and fauna, world class diving sites.
Nusa Tenggara (Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Komodo and West Timor) Also known as the Lesser Sunda Islands, the "Southeast Islands", contain scores of ethnic groups, languages and religions, as well as Komodo lizards and more spectacular diving.
Maluku (Moluccas) The historic Spice Islands, fought over to this day, largely unexplored and almost unknown to the outside world.
Papua (Irian Jaya) The western half of the island of New Guinea, with mountains, forests, swamps, an almost impenetrable wilderness in one of the remotest places on earth.
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