Indonesia (officially Republic of Indonesia) is a country in South East Asia. Indonesia is located in Malay Archipelago, consisting of more than 17,000 islands, with around 900 islands inhabited. Geographically, Indonesia is located between two continents (Asia and Australia) and two oceans (Indian and Pacific oceans).
As it straddles equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate with sunny days throughout the year. Located in southwestern part of Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia has high volcano activities resulting in high quality of soil for agriculture. There are two distinct monsoonal rainy (October to March) and dry (April to September) seasons. High rainfall, sunny days, and fertile soil support biodiversity; Indonesia is the second highest level of biodiversity in the world after Brazil.
Indonesian cultures are characterized by its vast varieties. Indonesia has hundreds of ethnic cultures. Separated geographically by land and sea, each community develops its own unique cultures.
Culture of Indonesia is a mix between indigenous cultures influenced by centuries of relationship with outside world. Ancient relation with Indian subcontinent brought two Indian greatest epochs – Ramayana and
Mahabharata – to Indonesia, in which they fused with
local cultures, along with Hinduism and Buddhism. Later Islam came in the height of the middle ages, brought by Muslim preachers and merchants. Consequently, there are cultures influenced by Islamic teachings, such as Saman dance in Aceh and Sekaten festival di Jogjakarta. Missionaries brought Christianity in the colonial era. Kroncong style is a traditional music introduced by Portuguese centuries ago. Dominant religion of an ethnic clearly influences its culture, as seen in Sumatra, Java, Bali, and East Nusa Tenggara.
Wayang kulit is a popular shadow puppet theater among Sudanese, Javanese, and Balinese people. These show present stories taken from localized Ramayana and Mahabharata epochs. Gamelan, a set of traditional musical instruments, accompanies this show that often takes place a whole nightlong. In November 7th 2003 UNESCO designated wayang kulit as Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity; in return Indonesians must preserve this heritage.
Almost every ethnic in Indonesia has its own language. Malay has been a lingua franca for centuries. Today Malay is codified in Bahasa Indonesia and serves as Indonesian national language.