Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Origin of Nusantara

Nusantara is an Indonesian word designating the South East Asia archipelago. It is synonymous with Indonesia, including the Malaysian, Filipino, Singaporean, and Bruneian lands, but including the interior of Kalimantan, the last corner of Sulawesi, and Papua (from Manokwari to Merauke on the Papua New Guinean border).
Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest and most politically dominant ethnic group. Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism including rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. However, sectarian tensions and separatism have led to violent confrontations that have undermined political and economic stability. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world's second highest level of biodiversity. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread in contemporary Indonesia.

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