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Indonesia

Clear blue seas lap pristine beaches, gentle breezes carry scents of spices and flowers, and divers are entranced by the ocean’s riches. Inland, dramatic volcanic ranges tower above a green mantle of terraced hillsides and lush rainforest. Bali offers an image of paradise: stunning scenery, gentle sarong-clad people and sunsets of legendary glory. On peaceful Lombok, life moves at a slower pace, while bustling Jakarta exhibits Indonesia’s cosmopolitan, modern face. Komodo Island’s ‘living dinosaurs’ and the entrancing ‘sea gardens’ of Suwalesi invite exploration, as do Borobudur’s architectural treasures, which include 5km (3 miles) of Buddhist relief carvings.

Practical Information

Area: 1 922 570 million km² (742 308 miles²)

Capital: Jakarta (Java). Population: 13.2 million

Population: 245 million

Currency: Rupiah (IDR symbol Rp)

Government: Republic. Declared independence from The Netherlands in 1945.

Tipping: 10% is normal.

Legal drinking age: 18 (minimum purchasing age: 16)

Time zone: GMT + 7 in Sumatra, Java and Western Borneo, GMT + 8 in Sulawesi, Lesser Sunda Islands, Bali and Eastern Borneo, GMT + 9 in Papua and Maluku

Languages: Bahasa Indonesia

Additional descriptions

Indonesia: Social customs

Since independence, many people have developed a strong sense of national pride, and maintain traditions of dance, painting, woodcarving and stonecarving. Social courtesies are often fairly formal. In particular, when drink or food is served, it should not be touched until the host invites the guest to do so. Never pass or accept anything with the left hand. Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon and kissing in public will attract a great deal of unwanted attention. Touching a stranger of the same sex while in conversation is very common. Pointing is considered impolite and patting children on the head should be avoided. Indonesians are polite and will extend endless courtesies to visitors whom they trust and like. Smiling is a cultural tradition and Indonesians smile frequently, even in an uncomfortable or difficult situation. Visitors should avoid losing their temper. When invited to a home, a gift is appreciated (as long as it is given with the right hand). Informality is normal, but a few smart establishments encourage guests to dress for dinner. Muslim customs, especially those concerning female clothes, should be observed.Read more particular, when drink or food is served, it should not be touched until the host invites the guest to do so. Never pass or accept anything with the left hand. Public displays of affection between men and women are frowned upon and kissing in public will attract a great deal of unwanted attention. Touching a stranger of the same sex while in conversation is very common. Pointing is considered impolite and patting children on the head should be avoided. Indonesians are polite and will extend endless courtesies to visitors whom they trust and like. Smiling is a cultural tradition and Indonesians smile frequently, even in an uncomfortable or difficult situation. Visitors should avoid losing their temper. When invited to a home, a gift is appreciated (as long as it is given with the right hand). Informality is normal, but a few smart establishments encourage guests to dress for dinner. Muslim customs, especially those concerning female clothes, should be observed.

Indonesia: Food and local specialties

The staple diet for most Indonesians is nasi (rice), which is replaced on some islands with corn, sago, cassava and sweet potatoes. Indonesia’s spices make its local cuisine unique. Indonesians like theirRead more food highly spiced look out for the tiny and fiery hot red and green peppers often included in salads and vegetable dishes. Seafood is excellent and features highly on menus (with salt and freshwater fish, lobsters, oysters, prawns, shrimp, squid, shark and crab all available). Coconuts are often used for cooking. Vegetables and fruit, such as bananas, pineapple and oranges, are available throughout the year, some tropical fruits such as mango, watermelon and papaya are seasonal. A feature of Jakarta is the many warungs (street stalls), each specialises in its own dish or drink. The national specialties are: Rijsttafel (a Dutch-invented smorgasbord of 12 various meat, fish, vegetable and curry dishes, sometimes served by 12 ‘maidens’). Sate (chunks of beef, fish, pork, chicken or lamb cooked on hot coals and dipped in peanut sauce). Rendang (west Sumatra, buffalo coconut curry). Gado-gado (Java, a salad of raw and cooked vegetables with peanut and coconut milk sauce). Babi guling (Bali, roast suckling pig). Es (ice drinks with syrups, fruits and jellies). Brem (Bali, rice wine). Tuak (palm-sap wine, a famously potent local brew). Arak (rice or palm-sap wine). Kelapa muda (young coconut juice).

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