Chapter 2

Study areas in Indonesia

2.1 The people

Unity in Diversity

The Indonesian national motto "Unity in Diversity" points to one of the greatest attractions of Indonesia. There are some 300 ethnic groups, a result of both the country's unique geography and history. Many Indonesians may see themselves first by their ethnic and cultural group and secondly as Indonesians. The glue that binds the people together is the usage of the Bahasa Indonesia, the national language.


The majority of Indonesians are of Malay extraction. The remainder of the "pribumi" (natives) are Melanesian (in Irian Jaya and the eastern islands). There are ethnic Chinese, Indians and Arabs concentrated mostly in urban areas throughout the archipelago. Major Ethnic groups: Javanese - 45%, Sundanese - 14%, Madurese - 7.5%, Coastal Malays - 7.5%, and others - 26%


200 million (early 1998). Population growth rate: 1.56%, Birth rate 24.06 births per 1,000 population (1995 estimate). Two thirds of the population resides in Java, the center of the country's economic and political power. Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world after China, India and the United States. Age breakdown: 0-14 years - 32%, 15-64 years - 64%, 65 years and over - 4%.


Together with the adjoining smaller islands of Madura and Bali, Java accounts for just over 7% of the Indonesia land area, but these islands are populated by some 119 million inhabitants which comprises 59.5% of the total Indonesian population. By contrast, Irian Jaya represents 22% of the total land mass, yet has only 1% of the population.


About 88% of the population is Muslim. Roughly 10% is Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic) and approximately 2% is Hindu and Buddhist. All five of these religions are formally recognized in Indonesia and have official national holidays commemorating events of importance to their followers. While the country is predominantly Muslim, the government is secular and therefore is not based on a single religion.

Family Planning

A comprehensive family planning program has seen Indonesia's annual population growth rate fall from 2.3 percent in 1972 to around 1.6 percent in 1996. It is expected to grow again due to the current economical crisis and the lack of funds of the government to continue this program.

2.2 The Land


Indonesians refer to their homeland as Tanah Air Kita, which means "Our Land and Water." This refers to its geographical makeup consisting of 17,508 islands with a total land mass of 1.91 million square kilometers connected by six seas covering more than 3 million square kilometers. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world extending some 2,000 kilometers from North to South and more than 5,000 kilometers from East to West. The archipelago stretches over more than one-tenth of the Equator between Southeast Asia and Australia. The largest islands are the Kalimantan provinces on Borneo, Sumatra, Irian Jaya, Sulawesi and Java (where Jakarta is located).

Figure 2-1 Indonesia

Nearly 60 percent of Indonesia's land is forested and a significant portion is mountainous and volcanic. Some mountains on Sumatra and Irian Jaya exceed 3,000 meters in height. Java alone has 112 volcanoes, some of which are active, including Krakatau in the Sunda Straits. Centuries of volcanic activity has led to high degree of soil fertility on Java and Bali, which accounts in part for the high concentration of agriculture and people on these two islands.

Administrative Divisions

Indonesia is divided into 24 provinces, 2 special regions and 1 special capital city district which are further subdivided into smaller entities of districts, sub-districts, villages and neighborhoods. The 24 provinces are:

  • Bali, Bengkulu, Irian Jaya, Jambi, Jawa Barat, Jawa Tengah, Jawa Timur, Kalimantan Barat, Kalimantan Selatan, Kalimantan Tengah, Kalimantan Timur, Lampung, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Riau, Sulawesi Selatan, Sulawesi Tengah, Sulawesi Tenggara, Sulawesi Utara, Sumatra Barat, Sumatra Selatan, Sumatra Utara, Timor Timur.
  • The two special regions are Aceh at the northern tip of Sumatra and Yogyakarta in Central Java The special capital city district is Jakarta.

    Largest Cities

    Jakarta, with a population of 9 million, Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surakarta (Solo), Medan, Padang, Palembang, Ujung Pandang, Banjarmasin, Bandar Lampung and Manado.


    Mostly equatorial. Temperatures range between 16-35 degrees Celsius (61-91 degrees F) with humidity ranging from 60-90 percent. There are two seasons, the rainy monsoon season which usually lasts from November through May, followed by the dry season which usually lasts from June through October. Rainfall varies throughout Indonesia, averaging 706 mm (28 inches) yearly.


    The official language is Bahasa Indonesia. The written and spoken form is based on the Malay trade dialect which was used throughout the region in the past.. Bahasa Indonesia is a strong unifying factor in a country where more than 300 distinct regional languages are still spoken.

    2.3 The Government

    The Republic of Indonesia

    Indonesia is a republic with political power organized around the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Indonesia declared independence from the Netherlands and Japan on August 17, 1945.


    Pancasila, the Five Principles, is the basic philosophy of the government. These principles are: Belief in one God, Just and civilized humanity, the Unity of Indonesia, Democracy led by the wisdom of deliberations among representatives, and Social Justice for all Indonesian citizens.

    The Executive Branch

    The current president, President B.J. Habibie is the chief of state and head of Government (since May 1998). He was chosen by his processor Ex-General Soeharto and "elected" by the People's Consultative Assembly as his Vice President. Soeharto had to resign on May 21 amid a deep economic depression and widespread protests against his 32-year rule.

    Currently there is no Vice President. The next presidential election will be held in 1999.

    The Legislative Branch

    House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or DPR). Elections were held May 1997. The results of the elections were: Golkar 74.27%, PPP 22.66% and PDI 3.07% (The Jakarta Post, June 2, 1997). The People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawarakatan Rakyat or MPR) includes the DPR in addition to 500 indirectly elected members. They meet every five years to elect the President and Vice President.

    The Judicial Branch

    The Supreme Court is called Mahkamah Agung.

    The Legal System

    The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law. This has been substantially enhanced and modified over the years to cater to indigenous concepts and new criminal procedures code being enacted every year.

    Political Organizations

    Indonesia has three legal political organizations: Golkar - the ruling political organization, PPP - the Muslim backed Development Unity Party, and PDI - the Indonesian Democratic Party.

    2.4 The Economy


    The Rupiah, currently (August 98) trading at about 12000 to the US$, with heavy daily fluctuations. May 1997: 2500, July 1998:18500!

    Mineral Resources

    Oil and natural gas, coal, tin, copper, nickel ore and gold.

    Main Agricultural Products

    Rice, palm oil, coffee, tea, spices, sugar, natural rubber, shrimp and fish.

    Main Manufactured Products

    Plywood, textiles, garments, shoes, processed rubber, processed food, electrical/electronic goods, and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

    Figure 2-2 Location of study areas in Indonesia


    This study focuses on two areas of Indonesia, Bali and Tana Toraja in Sulawesi. Both are drawing strong tourist attractions.

    2.5.1 Bali

    As part of Bali, Belega was chosen as a site of primary data collection since 75 % of the Bali's export bamboo products are from this region. Belega is a small village located about 20 km East of Denpasar the main city of Bali. This village is part of the Blahbatuh sub district and is under the auspices of the Gianyar district (Figure 2). This village has a population of 1700 people (or 360 families)

    Figure 2-3 Map Study area in Bali

    Though most of the people are farmers; about 20% of the population are bamboo handicraftsmen. The primary bamboo product is furniture, including bamboo sofas, dining room tables and chairs, beds, shelves, cupboards and other pieces. This area is known by its access to international markets. The biggest markets for Balinese bamboo products in 1996 are USA (19,48%), followed by France (14,98%) and Spain (10,32 %) (Table 3-4). Other major importing countries are Germany, United Kingdom, and Japan. Small-scale bamboo enterprises have a broad potential in the international market. A combination of the extraordinary skill of local craftsmen to fulfill design requirements and special tourism interest has helped to spur the growth and development of small-scale bamboo enterprises in Bali.

    2.5.2 Tana Toraja

    Although much tourist industry remains in South Sulawesi, Tana Toraja regency is the most visited by tourists. It is second only to Bali as a major area of interest. According to official data in 1996, there are 380.295 inhabitants in Tana Toraja regency. They earn their living from agriculture and husbandry with the main agriculture products being rice and coffee, with common livestock being buffalo, pigs and chickens. Tana Toraja regency has 13 districts; one that is called Rantepao, was the second area chosen for primary data collection. Rantepao is one of the famous tourist resort areas in Tana Toraja regency for galleries and arts. Bamboo craftsmanship is renowned in communities in this area. Without formal training, Torajan villagers have developed extraordinary traditional skill at producing various bamboo products such as Baka (basket woven out of bamboo), Bakku (baskets made from bamboo strips) or Bubu (scoop made from bamboo strip used to catch fish) all passed from down generation to generation. This activity is mostly done during their spare time between seasonal agriculture operation.

    Figure 2-4 Map Study area in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi

    Bamboo craftsmanship enterprise is one of the small-scale enterprises that can develop as well in Tana Toraja. Since the potential bamboo raw material in this area is very high. The province of the South Sulawesi Department of Forestry (1997) reported a total of 6.071 ha of bamboo forest in Tana Toraja and there are not less than 15 species of bamboo which are recorded growing in Tana Toraja. The species used for making bamboo furniture such as Dendrocalamus asper which have high demand for markets abroad grow abundantly in this area.

    While the number of tourists currently visiting Tana Toraja is not as big as Bali, there is no doubt that tourism will boost the local economy. An increase in tourism will heighten the demand for bamboo products. Tourism will now be encouraging the Tana Toraja to improve their design and production skills.