The Republic of Indonesia covers an archipelago of 13,667 islands, and has a land area of 735,355 sq. mi. (1,904,569 sq. km.), with a population of 231,627,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 347 people per sq. mi. (134 people per sq. km.), although this reflects a massively overpopulated Java, and many underpopulated islands. Jakarta, the capital and the largest city, has a population density of 33,049 per sq. mi. (12,738 per sq. km.).
Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, with 10 percent of the land arable, 7 percent used for meadows and pasture, and 62 percent of the country covered by forests. Indonesia is a significant oil producer, and 81 percent of its electricity production comes from fossil fuels, mainly petroleum, with liquid fuels making up 55 percent of Indonesia's carbon dioxide emissions, and gaseous fuels making up 21 percent. The increased demand for electricity for air conditioning and personal use is reflected in a greater demand for electricity in the country than during the 1990s. However, although Indonesia contributes about one percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, because of its large population, the rate of per capita carbon dioxide emissions is low, at 0.8 metric tons per person in 1990, rising gradually to 1.4 metric tons by 1996, and fluctuating between those levels since then.
One of the reasons for these fluctuations is the extensive forest fires on the islands of Sumatra and
Borneo (Kalimantan), where large portions of the jungles were burned to help clear them, and caused pollution in the region. In 1998, up to 2 million acres (809,371 hectares) of land, one-eighth of which was primary forest, was damaged in fires, severely reducing the local habitat of the orangutan. Although Indonesia is relatively well served by public transportation, much of it is offered by older buses and pickup trucks, which. The increased private automobile ownership, brought about by increased affluence in the Indonesian middle class, has led to transportation producing 18 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. Another 18 percent comes from manufacturing construction, 17 percent from residential uses, and 21 percent from electricity and heat production.
Global warming is expected to increase flooding, as dramatically seen in the Boxing Day Tsunami, on December 26, 2004, which devastated the northwest coast of Sumatra, especially the town of Banda Aceh, resulting in the deaths of about 131,000 people, with an additional 37,000 listed as missing. Subsequently, there has been damage sustained to the west coast of Sumatra around Bengkulu, which was struck by a number of earthquakes in September 2007, resulting in the deaths of 13 people. Flooding has the risk of increasing the prevalence of insect-borne diseases, and in 1997 malaria was detected at 6,900 ft. (2103 m.) in the highlands of West Papua (Irian Jaya), the highest place that it has been found. Some rainforests have been cleared to make way for golf courses, an issue that became important in local politics in parts of Indonesia in the early 1990s.
To try to combat some of the problems presented by global warming, Indonesia has tried to increase its use of hydropower, but it still accounts for only 14 percent of electricity production. The Suharto government of Indonesia ratified the Vienna Convention in 1992, and took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, which was ratified two years later. On July 13, 1998, the Indonesian government signed the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, ratified it on December 3, 2004, and it took effect on March 3, 2005.
sEE ALso: Agriculture; Floods; Forests; Hurricanes and Typhoons.
BIBLIoGRAPHY. Robert Cribb, "Environmental Policy in Indonesia," Ecological Policy and Politics in Developing Countries: Economic Growth, Democracy, and Environment (State University of New York Press, 1998); B.P. Resosudarmo, ed., The Politics and Economics of Indonesia's Natural Resources (Resources for the Future, 2006); L.M. Simons, "Indonesia's Plague of Fire," National Geographic (v.194/2, 1998); World Resources Institute, "Indonesia—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri. org (cited October 2007).
Robin Corfield Independent Scholar
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