Essential Info for Indonesia

Official name: Republic of Indonesia

Capital city: Jakarta (also largest city)

Other major cities: Bandung, Surabaya, Semarang, Medan

Population: About 260 million

Neighbouring countries: Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia on Borneo, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea and East Timor on the island of Timor, and Maritime borders with Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Palau to the north, and with Australia to the south.

Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Major religions: Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, although freedom of religion is permitted, with Christianity and Buddhism also widely practised.

Main languages: Bahasa Indonesia (official), English (tourist centres and Jakarta)

Geography: Indonesia is an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, with the five main islands being Sumatra, Java, Borneo (known as Kalimantan on the Indonesian side), Sulawesi and New Guinea. Parts of Indonesia are quite mountainous, with Puncak Jaya, located on Irian Jaya, being the highest peak. Much of the country is covered by dense, tropical forests. Located along the Ring of Fire, the country consists of many volcanoes, and is also subject to frequent earthquakes.

Time: Indonesia spans three time zones: GMT +7 (West, including Java and Sumatra), GMT +8 (Central, including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok), GMT +9 (East, including Irian Jaya).

Electricity: 230 volts, 50 Hz. A variety of plugs are in use, including the European two-pin and UK-style three-pin.

Currency: The Indonesian rupiah (IDR), divided into 100 sen. Locals may use the word perak when referring to their currency. There are plenty of local and international banks in Indonesia, but many expats choose to maintain their existing bank account in their home country.

Tipping: Standard 10 to 15 percent in restaurants unless included as service charge. Round up bill for taxis and give slightly more for hired drivers.

International dialling code: +62. City/area codes are in use, e.g. 36 for Bali and 21 for Jakarta.

Emergency numbers: 110 (police), 118/119 (ambulance)

Internet domain: .id

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Indonesia has an established public transport system. Taxis are also plentiful. However, traffic can reach nightmarish proportions in Indonesian cities and driving is best avoided; many expats hire a local driver instead.