Geographical aspects of South East Asian countries – 2

Geography of Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. It consists of five major islands and about 30 smaller groups. There are total number of 17,508 islands of which about 6000 are inhabited. Straddling equator, the archipelago is on a crossroads between two oceans, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and bridges two continents, Asia and Australia. The five main islands are: Sumatra, the most fertile and densely populated islands, Java/Madura, Kalimantan, which comprises two-thirds of the island of Borneo, Sulawesi   and Irina Jaya, which is part of the world’s second largest island, New Guinea. Indonesia’s other islands are smaller in size.

The country is predominantly mountainous with some 400 volcanoes, of which 100 are active. The highest mountain is the perpetually snow-capped Mandala Top (15,300 feet) in the Jaya Wijaya mountain range of Irian Jaya. Many rivers flow throughout the country. They serve as useful transportation routes on certain islands, for example, the Musi, Batanghari, Indragiri and Kampar rivers in Sumatra; the Kapuas, Barito, Mahakam and Rejang rivers in Kalimantan; and the Memberamo and Digul rivers in Irian Jaya. Indonesia, part of the “ring of fire,” has the largest number of active volcanoes in the world. Earthquakes are frequent.

In addition to the mountainous landscape, much of the islands are covered in thick tropical rainforests that give way to coastal plains. Significant rivers of Indonesia include the Barito, Digul, Hari, Kampar, Kapuas, Kayan and Musi; as well, there are also scattered inland lakes which are relatively small in size.