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Indonesia is located across the equator and stretch from Sumatra in the west to Irian Jaya in the east, or from Sabang to Merauke (Dari Sabang ke Merauke). The total area is 1 904 569 km2. That is somewhat bigger than the area of Australia, though only 20% consists of land, the rest is water. The number of islands in the Indonesian archipelago is disputed, but a commonly cited figure is 13 667, of which about 6000 are inhabited.

Anak Krakatoa volcanoThe archipelago is divided into the Greater Sunda islands, the Smaller Sunda islands and East Indonesia, roughly. Most of the islands rests on volcanic ground, which is both a menace and a gift. When a vulcano erupts, many people die and whole villages goes to waste, but the ashes has also a life giving effect and makes some of the Indonesian soil amongst the most fertile in the world.
   Probably the most well-known volcanic eruption occured in 1883 when the island of Rakata Besar turned upside down and disappeared, just to evolve again in 1927 as Anak Krakatoa. The explosion was the worst in recorded history and was heard as far as Brisbane over 4000 kilometres away. Many villages on the coast of west Java and south Sumatra was wiped out and volcanic debris landed as far away as Madagascar on the other side of the Indian Ocean. The eruption was spitting stone and ashes 27 kilometres up in the sky and boats rocked in the English Channel. It was a big one and Anak Krakatoa is still active.

Sumatra is the biggest of all Indonesian island, 473 606km2, and is part of the Greater Sunda Islands. Other islands is Java and Madura, 132 187 km2, Sulawesi, 189 216km2, and Kalimantan, 539 469km2, the Indonesian part of Borneo. The Smaller Sunda islands consists of Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Komodo, etc - they are also called Nusa Tenggara. Far to the east is Irian Jaya, 421 951km2, the Indonesian part of New Guinea. Another group of islands is the Moluccas, located east of Sulawesi. These islands used to go under the name of Spice Islands because of the Portuguese trade there in the 16th century.

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