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Over 17,000 islands. It's a number so big that you may just glaze over at the thought of Indonesia, the world's fourth most populated country and one that stretches in a vast archipelago along the equator. But your eyes can avoid the glaze by focusing on just one or even a few of the islands. There's legendary Bali with its captivating culture, stupendous surf and sybaritic nightlife. There's Java, home to the sprawling capital of Jakarta, spirited Yogyakarta and the stunning ancient monument of Borobudur. Sumatra, recovering from the 2004 tsunami, is hard-fast on the Indian Ocean and shelters huge tropical rainforests, notable for both ...

Over 17,000 islands. It's a number so big that you may just glaze over at the thought of Indonesia, the world's fourth most populated country and one that stretches in a vast archipelago along the equator. But your eyes can avoid the glaze by focusing on just one or even a few of the islands. There's legendary Bali with its captivating culture, stupendous surf and sybaritic nightlife. There's Java, home to the sprawling capital of Jakarta, spirited Yogyakarta and the stunning ancient monument of Borobudur. Sumatra, recovering from the 2004 tsunami, is hard-fast on the Indian Ocean and shelters huge tropical rainforests, notable for both their ruggedness and famous residents: orangutans. Kalimantan is the Indonesian portion of mythical Borneo, the world's third largest island and a place of ancient tribes and impenetrable river valleys and cloud-shrouded peaks. Other highlights include the Banda Islands — the original Spice Islands — and Lombok, the slightly wilder, more adventuresome neighbor to Bali. As diverse as you'll find the thousands of islands there are also certain themes that unify Indonesia. The people — mostly Muslim with a large number of Hindus on Bali, amongst many other religious groups — are universally welcoming and generally define "mellow." What could be a better place to relax?

Ryan Ver Berkmoes
About the Expert

Ryan Ver Berkmoes has written many books for Lonely Planet, including Bali & Lombok and the Southeastern Alaska and Western Canada sections for LP's Canada guide.

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Ryan Ver Berkmoes for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Republic of Indonesia is a nation in Southeast Asia. Comprising 17,508 islands, it is the world's largest archipelagic state.
  • Language: Indonesian, Javanese
  • Currency: Rupiah
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall