What can I tell you about Indonesia that Wikipedia doesn't already know? Not much, but here I'll try to boil down country of Indonesia into facts that are relevant to you and me.
Indonesia is a vast archipelago with over 10,000 islands that stretch about 5,000 km (or approximately the same width of the conterminous U.S.) E-W across the equator of South East Asia. Indonesia is the world’d fourth most populous country with nearly 300 million people. About 85% of it’s population is Muslim making it the largest Muslim nation in the world. The cultural milieu of Indonesia is a mix of past animistic beliefs, Buddhist Kingdoms, Hindu Kingdoms, pockets of Christianity, and contemporary Muslim traditions. Specific local attitudes vary greatly with geography. Indonesia’s many islands and cultures have been united politically only since 1945. You can imagine why Indonesia’s motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, “Unity in Diversity.”
I live on Java, which is not only Indonesia’s most densely populated island, but the world’s most densely populated island as well. Java is approximately the size of Florida’s penninsula but has an average population density equal to the New York City metro area. Now you can imagine why a colleague who has worked here for many years told me “You are never alone in Indonesia.”
Of particular interest to me, the islands of Indonesia are also part of the “Ring of Fire”–a circum-Pacific line of volcanic centers. Three of the earth’s most explosive volcanic explosions have occurred in Indonesia: Toba ~70ka, Tambora 1815, and Krakatau 1883. The Toba eruption is thought to be one of the most explosive eruptions in the geologic record, and according to some anthropoligists, is responsible for a “bottle neck” in human evolution. The Tambora and Krakatau eruptions pale in comparison of size to the Toba event, but their recent occurrence during the industrial and technological age has amplified their effects. The 1815 event at Tambora is the largest in human recorded history while the Krakatau eruption is one of lore. The 1883 event–from Krakatau, located in the Sunda straight between Sumatra and Java–produced tsunami waves that killed tens of thousands of people, affected global climate for approximately a decade, and, as is the thesis of Simon Winchester in Krakatoa, toppled the flagging Indonesian tolerance of Dutch colonialism over the edge and helped spark the revolution.