Spread across a chain of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia, Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
Ethnically it is highly diverse, with more than 300 local languages. The people range from rural hunter-gatherers to a modern urban elite.
Sophisticated kingdoms existed before the arrival of the Dutch, who colonised the archipelago but gave in to an independence struggle in 1949.
Indonesia has become one of the world’s major emerging economies.
The country faces demands for independence in several provinces.
President: Joko Widodo
Joko “Jokowi” Widodo won the elections of July 2014, one of a new breed of politician that has emerged in the fledgling democracy.
It was a close contest with the old guard who flourished under decades of autocratic rule.
He is seen by many as relatively untainted by the county’s endemic corruption and in touch with ordinary Indonesians as a result of his humble background – he was a furniture maker and his father a wood seller.
Indonesians have been among the world’s most active users of Twitter, with a range of opinion formers active on social media.
In 2014 there were said to be 71 million internet users in Indonesia.
Reporters Without Borders praises Indonesia’s media pluralism but says the government has failed to guarantee complete freedom for the media.
Some key dates in Indonesia’s history:
1670-1900 – Dutch colonists bring the whole of Indonesia under one government as the Dutch East Indies.
1942 – Japan occupies Dutch East Indies.
1945 – Sukarno – leader of the struggle for independence – returns from internal exile and declares independence.
1949 – The Dutch recognise Indonesian independence after four years of guerrilla warfare. Sukarno is president.
1966 – Sukarno hands power to General Suharto following an abortive coup.
1976 – Indonesia invades East Timor and incorporates it as a province.
1998 – Protests and rioting topple Suharto.
1999 – East Timor comes under UN administration.
2004 – First-ever direct presidential elections.
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