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Friday, July 31, 2009

Indonesia - My Lovely Country

Republic of Indonesia , is a nation in Southeast Asia. Comprising 17,508 islands, it is the world's largest archipelagic state. With a population of 222 million people in 2006, it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation, although officially it is not an Islamic state. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected parliament and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century, when the Srivijaya Kingdom formed trade links with China. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Under Indian influence, Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished from the early centuries CE. Muslim traders brought Islam, and European powers fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.
Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are
the largest and most politically dominant ethnic group. As a unitary state and a nation, Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka tunggal ika" ("Unity in Diversity" lit. "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 is a defining feature of contemporary Indonesia.


In Indonesian, temples are known as candi, thus "Borobudur Temple" is locally known as Candi Borobudur. The term candi is also used more loosely to describe any ancient structure, for example, gates and bathing structures. The origins of the name Borobudur however are unclear, although the original names of most ancient Indonesian temples are no longer known. The name 'Borobudur' was first written in the Sir Thomas Raffles book on Java history. Raffles wrote about a monument called borobudur, but there are no older documents suggesting the same name. The only old Javanese manuscript that hints at the monument as a holy Buddhist sanctuary is Nagarakertagama, written by Mpu Prapanca in 1365.
The name 'Bore-Budur', and thus 'BoroBudur', is thought to have been written by Raffles in English grammar to mean the nearby village of Bore; most candi are named after a nearby village. If it followed Javanese language, the monument should have been named 'BudurBoro'. Raffles also suggested that 'Budur' might correspond to the modern Javanese word Buda ('ancient') - 'ancient Boro'. However, another archaeologist suggests the second component of the name ('Budur') comes from Javanese term bhudhara (or mountain).
Approximately 40 kilometers (25 mil) northwest of Yogyakarta, Borobudur is located in an elevated area between two twin volcanoes, Sundoro-Sumbing and Merbabu-Merapi, and two rivers, the Progo and the Elo. According to local myth, the area known as Kedu Plain is a Javanese 'sacred' place and has been dubbed 'the garden of Java' due to its high agricultural fertility. Besides Borobudur, there are other Buddhist and Hindu temples in the area, including the Prambanan temples compound. During the restoration in the early 1900s, it was discovered that three Buddhist temples in the region, Borobudur, Pawon and Mendut, are lined in one straight line position. It might be accidental, but the temples' alignment is in conjunction with a native folk tale that a long time ago, there was a brick-paved road from Borobudur to Mendut with walls on both sides. The three temples (Borobudur–Pawon–Mendut) have similar architecture and ornamentation derived from the same time period, which suggests that ritual.

Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants. It was discovered in the Indonesian rain forest by an Indonesian guide working for Dr. Joseph Arnold in 1818, and named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the leader of the expedition. It contains approximately 26 species (including four incompletely characterized species as recognized by Meijer 1997), all found in southeastern Asia, on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra and Kalimantan, West Malaysia, and the Philippines. The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. It is an endoparasite of vines in the genus Tetrastigma (Vitaceae), spreading its root-like haustoria inside the tissue of the vine. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower. In some species, such as Rafflesia arnoldii, the flower may be over 100 cm in diameter, and weigh up to 10 kg. Even the smallest species, R. manillana, has 20 cm diameter flowers. The flowers look and smell like rotting meat, hence its local names which translate to "corpse flower" or "meat flower" (but see below). The vile smell that the flower gives off attracts insects such as carrion flies, which transport pollen from male to female flowers. Little is known about seed dispersal, however, tree shrews and other forest mammals apparently eat the fruits and disperse the seeds. Rafflesia is an official state flower of Sabah in Malaysia, as well as for the Surat Thani Province, Thailand.
The name "corpse flower" applied to Rafflesia is confusing because this common name also refers to the Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum) of the family Araceae. Moreover, because Amorphophallus has the world's largest unbranched inflorescence, it is sometimes mistakenly credited as having the world's largest flower. Both Rafflesia and Amorphophallus are flowering plants, but they are still distantly related. Rafflesia arnoldii has the largest single flower of any flowering plant, at least when one judges this by weight. Amorphophallus titanum has the largest unbranched inflorescence, while the Talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera) forms the largest branched inflorescence, containing thousands of flowers; this plant is monocarpic, meaning that individuals die after flowering.

Lake Toba (Indonesian: Danau Toba) is a lake, 100 km long and 30 km wide, and 505 m. (1,666 ft.) at its deepest point, in the middle of the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra with a surface elevation of about 900 m (3,000 feet), stretching from 2.88° N 98.52° E to 2.35° N 99.1° E. It is the largest volcanic lake in the world.
In 1949 the Dutch geologist Rein van Bemmelen reported that Lake Toba was surrounded by a layer of ignimbrite rocks, and that it was a large volcanic caldera. Later researchers found rhyolite ash similar to that in the ignimbrite around Toba (now called Young Toba Tuff to distinguish it from layers deposited in previous explosions) in Malaysia and India, 3,000 km away. Oceanographers discovered Toba ash, with its characteristic chemical "fingerprint", on the floor of the eastern Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.
The Toba eruption (the Toba event) occurred at what is now Lake Toba about 67,500 to 75,500 years ago. It had an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (described as "mega-colossal"), making it possibly the largest explosive volcanic eruption within the last twenty-five million years. Bill Rose and Craig Chesner of Michigan Technological University deduced that the total amount of erupted material was about 2800 cubic km (670 cubic miles) — around 2,000 km³ of ignimbrite that flowed over the ground and around 800 km³ that fell as ash, with the wind blowing most of it to the west. By contrast, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens ejected around 1.2 cubic km of material, whilst the largest volcanic eruption in historic times, at Mount Tambora in 1815, emitted the equivalent of around 100 cubic kilometres of dense rock and created the "Year Without a Summer" as far away as North America.
The Toba eruption was the latest of a series of at least three caldera-forming eruptions which have occurred at the volcano. Earlier calderas were formed around 700,000 and 840,000 years ago. To give an idea of its magnitude, consider that although the eruption took place in Indonesia, it deposited an ash layer approximately 15 cm (6 in) thick over the entire Indian subcontinent; at one site in central India, the Toba ash layer today is up to 6 m (20 feet) thick and parts of Malaysia were covered with 9 m of ashfall. In addition it has been calculated that 1010 metric tons of sulphuric acid was ejected into the atmosphere by the event, causing acid rain fallout.

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