Indonesia is the biggest archipelago in the world and consists of 17,000 islands and islets, the largest of which include Sumatra, Java and Bali. This fascinating land has over 100 active volcanoes, interior mountains, lush forests, and many rivers.
Politically, Indonesia has historically been plagued by instability and internal conflict between the many different people groups inhabiting the different island that make up the nation. After decades under an oppressive government, Indonesia held free elections in 1999 and achieved relative political stability.
There has, as a result, been a high level of human development attained in this third largest democracy in the world with only about seven percent of Indonesians being unemployed and around 17 percent living below the poverty line.
This situation has, however, been massively altered in recent years by a series of devastating natural disasters:
- On December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake centered off Sumatra’s west coast caused a powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean that affected 12 countries. In Indonesia, hundreds of thousands of people died and more than 500,000 were displaced.
- A massive earthquake in 2009 killed about 100 people in West Java and 1,000 in Western Sumatra.
- Another earthquake and tsunami killed over 100 people in October of 2010.
- A volcanic eruption that same month killed nearly 150 people and displaced over 107,000 people.
These disasters have led to the widespread destruction of services and infrastructure such as schools, roads and water and sanitation systems. Indonesia is still trying to recover and needs all the help she can get.