On the world map of geography Indonesia lies between 115o to 145o
latitude and 11o and altitude. An almost 5000 kilometers stretch from western tip to eastern tip of the archipelago, and around 1700 kilometers stretch from northern tip to southern tip. No exact counting has been cited on the number of islands. Formally recorded 13.677 islands scattered along the equator. While the total land area is only around 2.000.000 square kilo meters, while the total area of Indonesia including sea is around 9.000.000 square kilometers, which is around 21/2 time total land of Australia.
Indonesian archipelago is a paradise for travellers for those looking the great variety of people, tradition, forests, under water livings, arts and others. It is depending on the local government how they see their potencies on culture and nature beauties, and the role of religious figures considering that Indonesian are still under strong influence of religion.
Indonesia Before Christian Era
Anthropological and Archaeological researches have proved that Java island has the oldest anthropomorphic remains such as Pithecanthropus Erectus, and Homo-Soloensis. Homo-Soloensis is considered the same stock as Homo-Neanderthal in Israel. Physical characteristics show a close relation with the ancestors of Australian Aborigines found in Talgai, Darling town NSW, and Keilor, near Melbourne.
The ancestors of Homo-Soloensis and Australian Aborigines is called Austro-Melanesoid, which had a wide distribution over South East Asia and the Pacific regions. Their cultural remains in the form of shell-mount and simple painting on cave wall are found from Sumatera, Java, Sulawesi, Flores, and West Papua. To the North as far as Hanoi, to the South as far as Australia.
Old mongoloid distribution has been found in south Sulawesi. A cave called Leang-Leang is one of the historical fact about this. Later period has been proved that a wide distribution of group also having preponderant mongoloid physical characters are recorded. This group has the most widest spread. Linguistic study has compiled a distribution from Madagascar island near East Africa beach, Indonesia, North Papua, Central Papua, and South Papua, Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesian archipelago. The parent of this language has been known as Kadai Language ( spoken in Vietnam ) and Austronesian is spoken in Indonesia and Pacific. Historians called this old language as "Proto-Austronesian".
It is supposed that they already knew land cultivation. These 2 plants which are until now still one of their products are "keladi"( colocasia antiquorum) and "ketela jalar" (dioscorea esculanta, in English often called "taro or yam"). Keladi and ketela in have slight variations which are known by all areas.
The distribution route of this group can be traced with the finding of their famous farming tool called "oval axe" which is still in use among primitive inhabitant of Papuan near the mountain areas for cultivating land. This Austro-Melanesoid group might have got their skill and tools from Proto-Austronesian friend that come later. The distribution of oval axe is associated with the use of Proto-Austronesian language to the South as far as Bismarck island.
At around same period with the spreading of Proto-Austronesian people, an other historical fact is found that is the distribution of quadrangular axe tied on a wooden pole. The origin of this tool is Vietnam ( South China ), with the distribution on Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali up to Flores and Philippine. This tool is associated with the use of a version of language that is called Austronesia.
Periodization on above history is not yet established but based on some dating on associated tools found underground it is probably between 2000 to 1000 BC.
A wave of bronze drum and axes entered Indonesia with wide distribution. The development of this technic has been known to the first at the Mesopotamia ( near present Irak ) around 3000 BC, and is believed to have spreaded into China and South East Asia.
Indonesia Entering Christian Era
With the finding of various historical facts starting the era of Christian, Indian influences had reached some places of Indonesia such as West Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. Some great kingdoms such as Kutai Kingdom ( 450 AD), Taruma Negara ( 400 AD ), Sriwijaya Kingdom ( 7-8th Century AD ), Mataram Kingdom ( 9th Century ), and Great kingdom of Majapahit ( 13 - 15th Century ) are recorded as the peaks of Indo-India culture. The influence of India (Hindu) in Indonesia until today is still can be observed especially in language, arts, and traditions. Even in some areas which are already converted into Moslem or Christian the traditions are still alive.
By the decline of Hindu kingdoms in Indonesia some cities on the shores made their direct contact with traders from west India who had converted into Islam. Around 13th century had begun the establishment of kingdoms with Islamic characters such as Malaka ( now Malaysia ), Aceh, Banten ( West Java ), Demak ( North Shore of Java ), and Goa ( South Sulawesi ). From here the spread of Islam was fast, especially to those poor areas and illiterate areas which were before never introduce Hindu or Budhist. In this type of areas the influence of Islam is intensive. While those areas which were before introduced Hindu or Buddhist the tradition continues to live, such as Yogyakarta, Madura, Surakarta, some areas in inland Java, Sumatera, and East Kalimantan. In these areas Islam is mixed with local traditions and Hindu ritual. Only a small part of Indonesian Moslem is actually a puritan and radical Moslem, which is in Java called " Santri" The Santri can be found in Aceh but do not support terrorists, Northern shores of Central and East Java, and some areas in land Java. The puritan in Java even has been pointed out as the fertile habitatof deviance Moslem such as terrorists due to their advocation in the public to the terrorist acts.
First European to arrive in Indonesia was Portugais in 1555 in search for spices. They can settle some areas without any resistant from local residents at the beginning such as Near Old town of Jakarta, East Timor, and Maluku. Local people in Indonesia was so hospitable from their history, and was not suspicious of the new comers.
Dutch, England, French, also competed or the monopoly of spice trade. Dutch until their organization called VOC finally won the competition and colonized one by one the strategic areas of Indonesia. Now they got the resitant from local people, since they were explicitly clear that they were not just a trader but coming as a ruler to maintain their monopoly. Since 16th century the coming of Dutch in Indonesia had been never without any resistant in almost all areas of Indonesia. So the struggle of Dutch to colonize Indonesia took a tremendous length of time, starting from 1619 when they succeeded in taking over Jakarta ( old name "Batavia" ) until 1906 when Bali finally subdued. During this colonization Dutch administration system, civil laws, education system, feudalism, and religions greatly influenced Indonesia. Most of Indonesian at that generation can speak Dutch.
On 17th August 1945 benefited by the World War II, after a decades of struggle for freedom, finally Indonesia under the Commander of the Indonesian Revolutionary Movement Dr. Ir. Soekarno and his Vice Commander Drs. Mr. Mohammad Hatta announced to the world the Freedom of Indonesia. This declaration of Independence was greatly unconditionally supported by all ethnics in Indonesia. Did also acknowledgement came for the first place was from India.
Variation of Culture and Tradition in Indonesia
We do not use the term in all the way in this writing, since it would not be enough physical characteristics to classified them into specific ethnic, except some ethnics in East Indonesia. Center of Indonesian Anthropological Study and their expert use the term " Men and Culture" as more moderate terminology. To mention some of the cultural highlight of Indonesia we list below.
Aceh Land and People
Baduy Unique People
Bali Land and People
Batak Ethnic Land and People
Bugis Land and People
Indonesia Chinese People
Dayak Interland Society
Flores Island People
Javanese Cultural Center
Mentawai Island People
Minahasa Land and People
Nias People Society
Sasak Land and People
Sundanese Land and People
Timor People Society
Toraja Land and People
The West Papuan Tribes
Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.
- Kintamani tour bring combination of watching barong dance, beautiful temple architecture, beautiful natural views, dance, carving, accessories and painting see description
- Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot temples are two historical heritages from 17th, Taman Ayun palace temple which is always found near palaces of Balinese king starting 18th century see description
- Uluwatu temple located on steep drop cliff on the southernmost tip of Bali island. see description