Indonesia, or the Indonesian archipelago, is broken down into 7 islands or group of islands.
Part of the Greater Sunda Islands, Sumatra is the largest island mass in the nusantara and the sixth largest island in the world. It closely neighbors Singapore and Malaysia with the Strait of Malacca in between, and the Indian Ocean surrounds the coastline along the rest of the border.
Also part of the Greater Sunda Islands, Java is the most densely populated island in Indonesia and the world. It is the center of the country’s political, economical and cultural past and present, and the capital city of Jakarta lies to the west with over 8 million residents and counting.
Also as part of the Greater Sunda Islands, Kalimantan is the Indonesian region of Borneo, which also includes Brunei and East Malaysia. It is further divided into five regions—north, east, south, central and west—and is home to the endangered Bornean orangutan.
The fourth of the Greater Sunda Islands, Sulawesi comprises of four peninsulas with a mountainous center, making travel by sea rather than land a better choice. It’s also no wonder that out of the eight national parks on this island, four are mostly marine and therefore a top choice for diving and snorkeling.
Lesser Sunda Islands
The Lesser Sunda Islands lie to the east of Java and include Bali, West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara. The climate of these islands, particularly in the eastern lowlands, differ greatly than those to the west. It rains an average of three months out of the year and the terrain becomes dry, but still valuable as farmland.
The Maluku Islands are a cluster of islands within an island nation. In the 16th century, they were dubbed the Spice Islands because of nutmeg and cloves trees and sparked colonial interest from Europe. Because this region is comprised of singularly small islands, the biodiversity evolves endemically at a high rate.
Papua & West Papua
New Guinea is divided between two countries—Papua New Guinea to the east and Indonesia to the west with Papua and West Papua as its main provinces. West Papua is the least populated province of Indonesia, and many tribal communities in this region have limited infrastructure and modern resources.