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Selamat Datang

15 March 2011

With any luck, I will be living in Indonesia in a few months. Indonesia — a land of 17,508 islands (of which 6,000 are inhabited by people) scattered along the Equator — has a population of almost 246 million. That puts it at No. 4 in the world, following China, India, and the United States.

Most Americans don’t know much about Indonesia. Some are aware that our president, Barack Obama, lived there with his mother for four years, returning to Hawaii (where he was born) when he was 10 years old. The official language is Bahasa Indonesia, which is very similar to Bahasa Malaysia, but apparently there are significant differences. About 86 percent of Indonesians are Muslim.

The Indonesian government system is that of a republic, with an elected president and a legislature consisting of an upper house, the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat or MPR); the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or DPR) with 560 seats; and the House of Regional Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah or DPD), with 132 members. Indonesia has a constitution.

Number of Internet users: 20 million (2009).

Number of mobile phones: 159.2 million (2009).

Source: CIA World Factbook (Indonesia), March 8, 2011.

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