Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Land of Indonesia [3]

Celebes consists of four peninsulas that branch out from a mountainous area in the center of the island and are separated by three gulfs: Bone, Tomini, and Tolo. Celebes covers an area of about 69,000 square miles and has a population of over 20,000,000 people, most of whom live on the southwestern peninsula. The island is bordered on the northeast by the Philippines, on the west by the Macassar Strait, and on the east by the Molucca Sea. Rice, maize, copra (dried coconut meat), and rattan (palm) are leading products. The Minahessa people of northern Celebes have Dutch names and practice the Lutheran religion. They are hardworking people, who take time off for fun only on Saturdays and on Sundays after church.

The Moluccas. The Mollucas, also known as the Spice Islands, lie between Celebes and The New Guinea. They consist of hundreds of islands, with a total area of more than 33,000 square miles. Long before European traders arrived here, spice such as cloves, nutmeg, and mace had found their way from these islands to Indian and Chinese markets. The leading islands-Ternate, Tidore, Ambon, Halmahera, Ceram, Buru - later became a stronghold of Christianity. The major crop of the Moluccas is copra, while sago is a leading staple.

The Lesser Sunda Islands. To the east of Java stretches a chain of mountainous islands known as the Lesser Sunda Islands. Their total area is about 28,000 square miles. Bali, with an area of about 2,000 square miles, is the best-known of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is famous for its scenic beauty, temples, sculpture, and crafts. The temples date from the Hindu period, and Hindu customs and the Hindu religion are still widespread on the island. On the island of Bali girls at the age of 5 are taught to dance the intricate steps which tell old Hindu stories. By the age of 7 they start to take part in the village rituals.

Papua, with an area of about 160,000 square miles, is the Indonesian part of the second largest island in the world. About 2,000,000 rather primitive people (nowadays, their living have had turn into more modernize), known as Papuans, live here. The lowlands are fever-ridden. In the interior, the peaks of the Jayawijaya (or Snow) Mountains rise to great heights, with Mount Jaya (formerly Castensz) rising to 16,400 feet. Not all of Papua has been explored, but in the western part, known as the Bird’s Head, a large supply of petroleum has been found.

Climate and Soil. In general the climate of Indonesia is tropical, with high temperatures, much rainfall, and as year-round growing season. Indonesia’s location on and near the equator, and the monsoons, which are seasonal winds, determine its climate. From June to October is the season of the dry monsoon, while from November to March there is the wet monsoon. Because of the mountains, these seasons are often reversed on many islands. Year-round temperatures average about 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the lowlands. Only in the mountains can relief be found from the monotony and humidity. The western part of Indonesia receives more rain (over 200 inches in parts of Sumatera) than the eastern (less than 25 inches in parts of Celebes). Jakarta on Java receives about 70 inches per year.

Soil is general are not fertile, since high annual rainfall leaches out the soil’s mineral content. Only in areas with volcanic soil, such as Java, and in the river valleys do soils produce a variety of crops in great amounts (Finish).

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