Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Land of Indonesia [2]

The Greater Sunda Islands. With a population of more than 120,000,000 people, Java is the most highly populated and the most developed islands in Indonesia. The islands lies south of the equator. Java has an area of about 49,000 square miles. It stretches 650 miles from east to west, with a width that varies from 40 to 130 miles. A low coastal plain is found in the north, while inland there are volcanoes, mountains ranges, and plateaus. Some isolated plains are found in the south. Java’s volcanic soil is fertile, and this has made it possible to grow many commercial crops, aside from such staples as rice and maize. The longest rivers in Java are the Solo and the Brantas. Other rivers are short, containing many rapids. In the Sunda Strait, which separates Java from Sumatera, is Krakatau, note for its terrible volcanic eruption of 1883.

Borneo is the third largest island in the world. It has an area of about 287,000 square miles, of which the greater part belongs to Indonesia. The northern coastal areas consist of Sabah and Serawak, which are part of Malaysia. Indonesian Borneo has only some 10,000,000 people, who live mainly in the coastal regions. The population includes many Indonesian (Chinese ancestry), who combine Chinese and Indonesian traditions in their way of life. The interior of the island is rugged, with mountains, swamps, and dense rain forest and jungle. The people who live here, known as Dayaks, are members of primitive tribes who were one headhunters (nowadays, all of them have turn their life in more modern ways). Large quantities of rubber come from Borneo. Petroleum, diamonds, gold, and silver are also found here.

Sumatera, with about 60,000,000 people, covers an area of more than 163,000 square miles. Along the eastern coast are high swamps. The Bukit Barisan, mountains with many active volcanoes, stretches along the southwestern coast. Most of the rivers, including Musi, Hari, Indragiri, and Kampar, begin in these mountains and flow eastward and northeastward. There are large rubber estates on Sumatera where the men work at taping rubber trees. Palm oil, tobacco used for cigar wrappers, tea, and pepper are other leading agricultural products. The Indonesian government has encouraged many people to move from the crowded island of Java to Sumatera by giving away free land for small farms. Petroleum is found in central and eastern Sumatera, and there are large oil refineries on the island. Tin is mined on the nearby is lands of Bangka and Belitung (Billiton) [to be continued in the next post].

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