Bali:: Gianyar, the richest district on Bali

Bali, Gianyar. Some of the many large statues in this area. Close to the center of Gianyar city. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Gianyar. Some of the many large statues in this area. Close to the center of Gianyar city. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Traditionally Gianyar has been the richest district on Bali, today about half the population here works in the tourist industry. Gianyar city is the administrative center of the district, while Ubud is the cultural capital and has the largest population. Gianyar city is located about 23 km from Denpasar, and is a junction for north and east bound traffic. Around Bedulu, between the Petanu and Pakrisan rivers, is a 10 km long belt of land known as “the land between the rivers”.

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Java:: Surabaya, city of heroes

Java, East Java, Surabaya. These ships, called Pinisi, are unique to Indonesia. This is still a common way of transport. Kalimas harbor. (Bjorn Grotting)

Surabaya. These ships, called Pinisi, are unique to Indonesia. This is still a common way of transport. Kalimas harbor. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Surabaya is East Java’s largest and Indonesia’s second largest city with a population somewhere between 2 and 3 million. Traditionally the city is one of the most important commercial port and trading centers in South East Asia. The harbor is Indonesia’s second largest after Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, protected by the Madura island just east of Surabaya.

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Bali:: Singaraja, center of Northern Bali

Bali, Buleleng, Singaraja. A family selling durian south of Singaraja. The taste of this characteristic fruit is definitely better than its smell. (Bjorn Grotting)

Bali, Buleleng, Singaraja. A family selling durian south of Singaraja. The taste of this characteristic fruit is definitely better than its smell. (Bjorn Grotting)

Singaraja was once the center of trade on Bali, as well as the capital of the island. Traders from all over Asia have arrived here since the 10th century, trading goods like weapons and opium in change of fresh water, food, cattle and slaves. Singaraja means “lion king”, while there are no lions here, the name is in remembrance of an old palace built in 1604 by the mighty king Raja Panji Sakti.

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Java:: Ujung Kulon National Park

Ujung Kulon

Ujung Kulon is offering a wide variety of landscapes with beaches, swamps, forests and corral reefs (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Ujung Kulon National Park is located on a peninsula at the extreme west part of Java, it was Indonesia’s first national park and by many still considered as the finest. Gunung Honje (620 m) is the highest point, at the center of the park there is a plateau called Telanca with an altitude of about 140 m. The rest of the park is mostly lower land and a shifting coastal landscape, in total it covers 760 square kilometers.

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Sumatra:: The Siberut experience

A river on Siberut island in Indonesia.

A river on Siberut island in Indonesia.

The first thing I saw was green. Green grass, green leaves, green trees, there was earth everywhere. Between short scraggly grasses and luxuriant ferns, palm trees rose from the ground, uniformly arched; their leaves languidly reaching to the sky in perfect circles. Enhanced by the pale steamy sky, the smell of rain and grass emanated from the air, tingling my taste buds, filling my lungs and sending cool, flowing shivers down my spine.

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Nusa Tenggara:: Central Lombok

Nusa Tenggara, Lombok, Mataram. The Pura Lingsar temple with the entrance to the Wektu Telu temple. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Nusa Tenggara, Lombok, Mataram. The Pura Lingsar temple with the entrance to the Wektu Telu temple. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The fertile area south of the mighty Rinjani mountain has several interesting villages, beautiful landscapes and green rice fields. Most of the villages here are populated by Sasak, one often visited village is Tetebatu at the foot of Gunung Rinjani, from here the view to this mountain and the southern part of the island is great.

A few km from Tetebatu you will find the Taman Wisata Tetebatu monkey forest with it’s black monkeys and waterfalls, among them the popular Air Terjun Jukut waterfall. According to the locals the water from Air Terjun Jukut will give increased hair growth.

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Sulawesi:: Sangihe and Talaud islands

A unique bamboo brass band from Sangihe

A unique bamboo brass band from Sangihe

Sangihe and Talaud are a chain of islands stretching north from Sulawesi in the direction of the Philippines. There are many active volcanoes here and a very fertile soil. Much of the products are sent by boat to Manado, like coconuts, rattan, nutmeg and ebony. The total land area is 813 sq. km, population about 240.000. The largest islands are Sangihe, Siau, Biaro and Tahulandang.

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Java:: The Shipwreck Of Panaitan

Map of the Sunda Strait

Map of the Sunda Strait with the Panaitan Island at the lower left, just outside the Ujung Kulon National Park.

It is Friday at noon; the team has already arrived in Sumur, a sleepy fishermen town on the West coast of Banten. KM Samudra and her crew are ready to receive the group on board. A small motorized skiff shuttles between the shore and the boat loaded with logistics, equipments, and people. A team consisting of marine biologists, cameramen, and photographers is set up for this particular survey.

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Indonesia:: Climate

Maluku, South East Maluku, Pulau Liran. The south west tip of Liran. Looking north east with Wetar in the background. There is only a small village and a lighthouse here (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, South East Maluku, Pulau Liran. East Nusa Tenggara and southern Maluku is very much influenced by the the Australian continental air masses (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The main variable of Indonesia’s climate is not temperature or air pressure, but rainfall. The almost uniformly warm waters that make up 81 percent of Indonesia’s area ensure that temperatures on land remain fairly constant (see table below). Split by the equator, the archipelago is almost entirely tropical in climate, with the coastal plains averaging 28°C, the inland and mountain areas averaging 26°C, and the higher mountain regions, 23°C.

The area’s relative humidity ranges between 70 and 90 percent. Winds are moderate and generally predictable, with monsoons usually blowing in from the south and east in June through September and from the northwest in December through March. Typhoons and largescale storms pose little hazard to mariners in Indonesia waters; the major danger comes from swift currents in channels, such as the Lombok and Sape straits.

The extreme variations in rainfall are linked with the monsoons. Generally speaking, there is a dry season (June to September), influenced by the Australian continental air masses, and a rainy season (December to March) that is the result of mainland Asia and Pacific Ocean air masses. Local wind patterns, however, can greatly modify these general wind patterns, especially in the islands of central Maluku–Seram, Ambon, and Buru. This oscillating seasonal pattern of wind and rain is related to Indonesia’s geographical location as an archipelago between two large continents. In July and August, high pressure over the Australian desert moves winds from that continent toward the northwest. As the winds reach the equator, the earth’s rotation causes them to veer off their original course in a northeasterly direction toward the Southeast Asian mainland. During January and February, a corresponding high pressure system over the Asian mainland causes the pattern to reverse. The resultant monsoon is augmented by humid breezes from the Indian Ocean, producing significant amounts of rain throughout many parts of the archipelago.

Prevailing wind patterns interact with local topographic conditions to produce significant variations in rainfall throughout the archipelago. In general, western and northern parts of Indonesia experience the most precipitation, since the north- and westward-moving monsoon clouds are heavy with moisture by the time they reach these more distant regions. Western Sumatra, Java, Bali, the interiors of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Irian Jaya are the most predictably damp regions of Indonesia, with rainfall measuring more than 2,000 millimeters per year. In part, this moisture originates on strategically located high mountain peaks that trap damp air. The city of Bogor, near Jakarta, lays claim to having the world’s highest number of rainstorms per year–322. On the other hand, the islands closest to Australia–including Nusa Tenggara and the eastern tip of Java–tend to be dry, with some areas experiencing less than 1,000 millimeters per year. To complicate the situation, some of the islands of the southern Malukus experience highly unpredictable rainfall patterns, depending on local wind currents.

Although air temperature changes little from season to season or from one region to the next, cooler temperatures prevail at higher elevations. In general, temperatures drop approximately 1° per 90 meters increase in elevation from sea level with some highaltitude interior mountain regions experiencing night frosts. The highest mountain ranges in Irian Jaya are permanently capped with snow.

Located on the equator, the archipelago experiences relatively little change in the length of daylight hours from one season to the next; the difference between the longest day and the shortest day of the year is only forty-eight minutes. The archipelago stretches across three time zones: Western Indonesian Time–seven hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)–includes Sumatra, Java, and eastern Kalimantan; Central Indonesian Time–eight hours head of GMT–includes western Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, and Sulawesi; and Eastern Indonesian Time–nine hours ahead of GMT– includes the Malukus and Irian Jaya. The boundary between the western and central time zones–established in 1988–is a line running north between Java and Bali through the center of Kalimantan. The border between central and eastern time zones runs north from the eastern tip of Timor to the eastern tip of Sulawesi.

Climate Statistics, Selected Stations, 1990

Temperature (in degrees Celsius) Humidity (average relative, in percentages)
Station Precipitation (in millimeters) Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum
Banda Aceh 250* 21.3 33.3 85 90
Banjarmasin 169 20.0 34.7 79 89
Dili 110 20.2 32.2 64 78
Jakarta 133 22.0 33.4 73 82
Jayapura 320 23.8 31.4 77 81
Mataram 195 20.4 35.8 68 90
Medan 166 22.0 33.6 81 87
Palembang 254 23.0 33.2 79 89
Semarang 202 19.8 32.6 73 84
Surabaya 129 23.6 35.0 60 85
Ujungpandang 195 22.7 32.6 72 82
Yogyakarta 131 19.1 33.7 77 88

*1989 data.

Source: Based on information from Indonesia, Central Bureau of Statistics, Statistik Indonesia/Statistical Year Book of Indonesia, 1990, Jakarta, January 1991, 14-19; and Indonesia, Central Bureau of Statistics, Statistik Indonesia/Statistical Year Book of Indonesia, 1991, Jakarta, January 1992, 14-19.

The Library of Congress, Country Studies
Data as of November 1992

Life:: Is Indonesia safe?

Java, Jakarta. Jakarta 14. November 1998. Large demonstrations. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Indonesia, Java, Jakarta 14. November 1998. Large demonstrations, tense situation between police, the army and demonstrators. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

This article will try to give some background information about the safety situation in Indonesia, but it must be up to you to decide if it is safe enough to visit the country. Be aware that the situation changes frequently, so make sure you have the latest and most reliable information before you make up your mind. Don’t get too intimidated by what is written in the western press, most of Indonesia is safe with very friendly people, as you soon will discover when you go there.

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