Introducing the country

Indonesia is a leviathan whose thousands of islands that straddle the equator span two oceans and 14 seas. Nigh on a hundred agitated volcanoes spew sulphurous gases high over logged ju...

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Indonesia is a leviathan whose thousands of islands that straddle the equator span two oceans and 14 seas. Nigh on a hundred agitated volcanoes spew sulphurous gases high over logged jungles where orangutans cling to the few branches left to them.

Half of the 260 million people that speak over 300 native languages live on Java island, the economic and political powerhouse roughly the size of Manhattan. This is a source of resentment for the smaller, misrepresented and independently minded populace.

Despite the haphazard geography and ongoing quarrels, Indonesia's radically different communities are humble, curious and softly spoken. Cloying incense spirals from Hindu temples and tenderly cut flowers and neat banana-leaf parcels of rice litter shrines and streets come early morning. Meanwhile, in more far flung places, the Korowai build treehouses high in the jungle canopy and the Mentawai impress potential suitors by flashing a smile of chisel sharpened teeth.

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Best way to get around

PLANE

Flying is the fastest and sometimes the only way to reach remoter islands. Delays are common and are often a result of bad weather. Reconfirm domestic tickets as flights are regularly overbooked.

CAR

You'll need your home license and an international license if you plan on hiring a car. Indonesian roads are dangerous, people often drive on the hard shoulder, neglect indicating and you can expect impassable roads in the wet season.

BIKE

By far the easiest and cheapest way to get around. Photograph the vehicle before taking it and watch out for potholes. First timers should not start on busy city streets.