Indonesia is a nation made up of more than 17,500 islands and consequently, the geographical facts of Indonesia are going to be extremely diverse and scattered throughout the country. The islands are home to the 4th largest population on Earth – some 238 million people. Its most well know island is Bali, a hugely popular tropical travel destination. Having been on the sharp end of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, you can well imagine the ocean and the island landscape are going to feature in the geographical facts of Indonesia. Let’s take a look at some of them.
These intriguing geographical facts of Indonesia begin with its tallest mountain. Mount Carstensz in the Sudirman Range is the tallest mountain, but it consists of a range of peaks reaching up to just under 5,000 meters. Whilst Puncak Jaya is the highest peak, summits like Ngga Pula and East Carstensz Peak fall just mere meters below their bigger brother. From a distance it actually looks more like a supersized cliff face than a mountain.
Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands, of which 6,000 are inhabited. Java is by far the most populous island, whilst also taking the title of being the most populated island on the planet. Most residents are bilingual with Indonesian as their first language. A grand total of 135 million people live on Java. It’s also home to Indonesia’s largest city and capital, Jakarta.
Lake Toba is the largest lake in Indonesia and is also an inactive super-volcano. Around 77,000 years ago the volcano erupted and changed the climate completely. The eruption wiped out most of our ancestors and a multitude of Indonesia’s islands were created in the process. It’s also the largest volcanic lake in the world and ranks as the most explosive eruption in the Earth’s history in the last 25 million years.
As for the longest river in Indonesia, this is easily the Kapuas River. It begins in the Indonesian area of the shared island of Borneo and flows for 1,143 kilometers.. It’s one of the world’s longest rivers and begins at the center of the island before flowing west into the South China Sea. It’s one of the main waterways for Indonesia and acted as a major geographic center for Maritime Southeast Asia when the Dutch and British competed for trade.
This next of the geographical facts of Indonesia actually influences much of the Pacific region as a whole. The Sunda Trench descends to a depth of 7,725 meters and is the lowest point in the Indian Ocean. It wasn’t fully explored until the 1950s, when an extended campaign of bomb-sounding led to the full discovery of the trench. Since the 2004 tsunami the trench has shifted dramatically, and the changes within the Sunda Trench could indicate some potentially catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis in the future. In response, scientists are regularly monitoring the trench.
Bogor is the wettest place in Indonesia, where it rains an average of 320 days per year. It has earned the name of ‘Rain City’ and is a place of major scientific study in Indonesia. This city on the island of Java has a 70% humidity rate which contributes to its almost perpetual rainfall. For locals and tourists in the area, it’s a luxury mountain resort with hundreds of tour companies around the world having representatives based in the area.
The hot winds from Australia beat away any chances of rain on the island of Savu. Covered by arid grasslands and palm trees, this is a place few travelers make it to. But this rocky outcropping is still an extremely proud place and the locals refer to it as a rugged paradise where 12-hour sunbathing sessions are a regular occurrence. Only 1,019 millimeters of rain fall each year, and 94% of this comes during the monsoon season.
Indonesia isn’t known for its glaciers, but towards the peak of Puncak Jaya are the country’s remaining three glaciers. They can’t compete with glaciers in other areas of the world, but for such a hot and humid place, the East Northwall Firn measuring 1.17 kilometers squared is simply remarkable. It took the title from the Meren Glacier, which had an area of 1.9 kilometers squared before it melted completely by the year 2000.
The geography of Indonesia is as rich and varied as the people who make the islands their home. Have you ever visited any of these incredible locations?
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