Indonesia is a fascinating country in Southeast Asia, the part of Asia that is south of China and east of India. Can you find it on a globe? In what oceans do the 17,000+ islands lie? What do you know about this island nation that has the 4th largest population in the world? Let’s learn about the incredible country of Indonesia.
We first decided to read a book as an introduction: Welcome to Indonesia is part of the “Welcome to the World” series. I strongly believe that kids should read (and be read) non-fiction books as a part of their learning. Choosing simple, factual books will not only expand their knowledge, it helps them master another literary genre that is important as their studies develop. We learned so much about Indonesia in this informative book:
People live on about 6000 of the islands, and the five largest islands are New Guinea, Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi. Imagine the diversity of languages and ethnicities in previously isolated areas! Kids usually learn their family’s local language until 3rd grade, and then they are taught the common language “Bahasa Indonesian.”
Indonesia is mainly covered by rainforests (learn more about rainforests here!) and the largest flower in the world (the rafflesia, left) is growing in Indonesia. The tropical climate has two distinct seasons: wet and dry. Can you see how close it is to the equator? In fact, the equator cuts through the islands: some are in the northern hemisphere and some are in the southern hemisphere. Famous animals include the extraordinary Komodo dragon (learn more here!), and the gentle orangutan (learn more here!)- both endangered species and under conservation.
History of Indonesia
Very early humans lived on the island of Java, and there is evidence that dates back to a million years ago. Later, others came to the island and slowly spread to the other islands as their kingdoms grew. In the 1600’s Dutch traders viewed Indonesia as a great stopping point for their ships. They took control of the area and called the colony the East Indies (kids- this is where Christopher Columbus thought he had landed in 1492!). They made Indonesians obey laws they did not like, and after many years- in Aug 17, 1945- they declared independence from the Netherlands. Now, Jakarta is a huge, modern city. 245 million people live in Indonesia, and the majority are Muslims. In fact, Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country! Some popular holidays are Ramadan, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day. Megawati Sukarnoputri was the 1st female president (2001-2004) and today the president is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Over the next couple of months, my kids and I will be exploring different aspects of Indonesian culture. Here are some upcoming articles and activities to learn about Indonesia (I will link up as I publish them!)-
- Indonesian Rice: Books and a Recipe
- Krakatoa Volcano: “The Day the World Exploded”
- Folktales from Indonesia
- Wayang Kulit: “Shadow Puppets” from Indonesia
- Orangutans of Indonesia
- Komodo Dragons!
Have you ever studied about Indonesia? Do you know anyone who has visited Indonesia? Tell us more in the comments!