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Indonesia is the largest archipelago and the fourth most populus country in the world. Consisting of five main islands and 30 smaller archipelagos, it has a total of 17,508 islands of which about 6,000 are inhabited. It stretches 5,150 km between the Australian and Asian continental mainlands and divides the Pacific and Indian Oceans at the Equator. The name Indonesia is composed of two Greek words : "Indos" which means Indian and "Nesos" meaning islands. The main islands are Sumatra (473,606 sq. km), Kalimantan (539,460 sq. km), Sulawesi (189,216 sq. km) Papua (421,981 sq. km), and the smallest but most populated is java (132,187 sq. km). Indonesia shares the islands of Kalimantan ( two thirds ) with Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. A democratic republik, Indonesia is divided into 32 provinces and special territories and classified geographically into four groups. First is the Greater Sundas, comprising the larger islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.

Second is the Lesser Sundas consisting of smaller islands from Bali eastward to Timor. Third is Maluku which includes all islands between Papua and Sulawesi. The fourth group is Papua in the extreme eastern part of the country. The strategic position of the archipelago, the history of Indonesia, both political and economic, has been conditioned by geography.


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