Indonesia Geography

Geography in Indonesia

The country of Indonesia is spread over a total of 17,508 islands with a total area of 1,904,569 km². The largest islands are Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi and New Guinea. In addition, most parts of the Great and Small Sunda Islands, the Moluccas and Western New Guinea belong to the Indonesian national territory. The southern parts of the country are therefore already part of the Australian continent. To the north of Indonesia are Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Palau, to the east of Papua New Guinea and East Timor, to the south of Australia and to the west and south of the Indian Ocean. Indonesia is delimited from the Malay Peninsula with western Malaysia and Singapore by the Strait of Malacca, and towards the Philippine Islands the border crosses the Celebes Sea. The Indonesian island kingdom is surrounded by many straits, shallow tributaries and lake basins crossed, some of which form important waterways. The landforms are volcanic and therefore very mountainous. The highest mountain is the 4884 m high peak of Puncak Jaya in New Guinea. The islands mostly drain into the Indian Ocean via short rivers, only on Borneo there are also larger rivers with longer flow paths, such as the Kapuas with 1143 km flow length. Despite the threats of earthquakes, tsunamis, and frequent volcanic eruptions, some islands, particularly Java, are densely populated due to the very fertile soils that enable intensive agriculture.

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Flora and fauna in Indonesia

Due to the special island location on both sides of the equator, the associated climatic conditions and the fertile volcanic landscapes, Indonesia is one of the biodiversity hotspots on earth, which is expressed in the enormous variety of animal species and endemic living beings. Indonesia also has the largest rainforest areas in the world, with many rare plants such as orchids and Rafflesia. In parts of eastern Sumatra and southern and western Borneo there are large swamp and freshwater swamp forests. In many places the coasts are lined with mangrove forests, while conifers grow in the mountains.

In addition to the valuable forest ecosystems, the island kingdom is home to large stocks of tropical corals in the numerous straits and lagoons. In the so-called Coral Triangle, between Malaysia, East Timor, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, about 75% of all known coral species and more than 3000 species of fish, turtles, many dolphins and whales as well as large sharks and rays live. The “Wallace Line”, a dividing line between Borneo and Sulawesi and south between Bali and Lombok, distinguishes the western, Asian from the eastern, Australian flora and fauna. It was found that certain Asian mammals such as elephants, tigers, tapirs and orangutans only occur on Borneo, Java and Bali, but not on Sulawesi, the Moluccas and the Lesser Sunda Islands. which is due to the mainland connection to the Asian continent on the one hand and the Australian continent on the other hand many millions of years ago. As a result, the tree kangaroo is only native to West New Guinea, while the Sumatran tiger, orangutans and the Sumatran elephant are native to Sumatra. The endangered Java rhinoceros and Banteng live on Java, wild bulls. The Komoda dragon is the longest monitor lizard in the world and can only be found on the Lesser Sunda Islands. Sulawesi is home to the civet cat, the crested macaque and the tiny tarsier monkey. The pardies bird is typical of New Guinea.

Flora in Indonesia

National parks and nature conservation in Indonesia

Numerous nature conservation organizations from Indonesia and western countries are committed to the preservation of nature on site. These efforts have led, among other things, to the designation of a total of 51 national parks and other protected areas with a total area of approx. 160,000 km² in Indonesia. Nevertheless, large areas of primeval forest are still being cleared in Indonesia, especially in the lowland rainforest of Sumatra, and converted into palm oil plantations.

The most important national parks in Indonesia include:

Komodo National Park

The 1,817 km² Komodo National Park is located in the area of the Lesser Sunda Islands and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among other things, it protects the endemic Komodo dragons

Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park

The Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park is located on East Java and is home to the two active volcanoes Bromo and Semeru.

Gunung Leuser National Park

The Gunung Leuser National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the largest national parks in Indonesia with an area of almost 10,000 km². It is located in the north of Sumatra and protects, among other things, the extensive rainforest areas with the orangutans, which are threatened with extinction.

Kerinci-Seblat National Park

Also on Sumatra is the largest national park with almost 15,000 km², which protects numerous endangered animal species such as the Sumatran tiger and the Sumatran rhinoceros in a unique volcanic landscape as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tanjung Puting National Park

The over 4000 km² Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan in the south of the island of Borneo was founded during the Dutch colonial era. The park, which is under special protection by UNESCO, is home to orangutans, which can be superbly observed here, as well as numerous other monkeys such as the proboscis monkeys, which are also threatened with extinction, in unspoiled nature.

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