Indonesia's population is the fifth largest in the world. The population age structure is typical of a middle-income country, with the majority of the population aged between 15 and 40 years old. This favourable demographic structure puts the country in a strong economic position at present as it represents a strong working age population and low dependency ratio.
However, in decades to come concerns may arise over the ageing population as pensioner welfare and superannuation policies are not yet well established. The sex ratio is almost exactly even at 49.66% female, 50.34% male.
Despite strong economic performance since 2010 and continual economic growth throughout the global financial crisis, Indonesia still struggles with poverty stemming from problems of unemployment, inadequate infrastructure, civil unrest and unequal regional resource distribution.
Major exports partners are Japan, China and Singapore and products include oil and gas, electrical appliances, plywood, textiles and rubber. Agriculture represents a declining proportion of the labour force (39%), whilst industry (13%) and services (48%) continue to rise to meet global demand.
Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, consisting of 17 500 islands spanning a distance of 6 400 kilometres from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. It's geostrategic positioning as a bridge between Asia and Australia/ Oceania significantly influences the nation's culture, politics and economy. Jakarta is the capital city and one of the most populated urban regions of the world, located on the island of Java. Other major islands of Indonesia are Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Papua and Timor.
Although not officially an Islamic state, Indonesia is home to more Muslims than any other country. Other religions including Hindu, Buddhism, Confucianism and Christianity have a presence in various regions. Bahasa Indonesia is the official national language, but most citizens are multilingual in speaking their local dialects also. More than 700 languages are spoken there today, and English is a growing influence.
As a former Dutch colony, Indonesia secured its independence after WWII and is now a republic with an elected parliament and president. Its post-colonial history saw two periods of authoritarianism: Sukarno's "Guided Democracy" (1957-65) and Soeharto's "New Order". Instability ensued as evident by the numerous changes in constitution and ongoing battles with corruption and terrorist activities.
Since October 2014 Joko Widodo has been the democratically elected president of Indonesia.
- Education: High quality education is distant dream for those who cannot afford it. In less affluent areas, many families cannot pay for their children's education because running costs are high and not supported by the government. Lack of accountability means teacher absenteeism is high, curriculums are not well implemented, students are mistreated or excluded for not grasping concepts quickly and children regularly go without meals for lack of food causing widespread malnourishment. In Nusa Tenggara Timur, one of the poorest provinces of Indonesia, three quarters of school aged children do not enroll or drop out of school each year because fees are unaffordable.
- Water and sanitation: In absolute terms, more than 40 million people do not have access to safe drinking water sources, and more than 100 million people lack adequate sanitation. In rural areas, village people walk across steep, rugged terrain to collect water each day representing a large opportunity cost on productivity. Furthermore, malaria is major issue associated with exposed bodies of water, affecting up to 20% of Indonesians. Immunisation rates are low due to lack of access to healthcare.
- Natural disaster: In recent years, Indonesia has suffered an unprecedented series of natural disasters due to its global position on active tectonic plate boundaries. Some of the more notable catastrophes include the Boxing Day Tsunami of December 2004 in Aceh, the Nias earthquake of March 2005, the Yogyakarta and Central Java earthquake of May 2006, and the West Java earthquake and tsunami in July 2006. In addition, outbreaks of disease and ongoing disruptions to local markets cripples disaster affected areas for subsequent months and years.
CIA WorldFact Book - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html
The World Bank - www.worldbank.org
United nation Development Reports - http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/IND
Unicef - http://www.unicef.org/index.php