To look at the Republic of Indonesia on a map, one may
wonder how it manages to maintain a stable economy and government over the more
than seventeen thousand islands that comprise the country. Declaring
independence from the Dutch after World War II, Indonesia has since built
weathered numerous political and natural obstacles to emerge as one of the Next
Eleven economies to watch in the coming years.
Despite the grand diversity, their improvements in governmental
rule and uniform identity as strengthened by keeping to a national language
have helped Indonesia through various economic road bumps. Today, while the
majority of the republic's population (ranked fourth in the world) would be
relegated to a low income bracket, there are improvements in unemployment and
The Economy of Indonesia
Despite the majority of Indonesia's economy being founded in
the services industry, the majority of the population is employed in the
agricultural sector. Palm oil, rice, spices, and tea and coffee are primary
products here - the Java islands are part of the republic, hence the popular
nickname for the latter beverage. With an average gross domestic product of
more than $500 billion, this island nation has proved a viable trade partner
with Japan, the United States, China, and Singapore.
Though Indonesia enjoys extensive natural resources like
precious metals and tin, their list of top exports differs somewhat:
Crude oil: Natural oil and gas is treasured especially by
neighboring countries in Asia. The republic's resources are so valuable,
Indonesia is Southeast Asia's only representative in OPEC.
Electrical appliances and electronics: Nokia phones,
notebook computers, printers, cameras, and video game peripherals are among the
many products manufactured in Indonesia.
Plywood: Approximately sixty percent of Indonesia is
populated by forests. This natural wood is exported to provide construction
materials throughout Asia.
Rubber: In response to the demand for natural rubber,
Indonesia ranks second only to Thailand in production and distribution. An
average of 3 million metric tons of natural rubber is produced, accounting for
a healthy percentage of overall global supply.
Textiles: Gorgeous Batik prints on flowing gowns and sarongs
are a popular export, found in eclectic boutiques around the globe.
Where Indonesia is rich in specific natural assets, it lacks
in other necessities. Here they rely upon trade partners to import a number of
Machinery: What is needed to manufacture and assemble
electronics, the nation acquires from mainland China and the U.S.
Chemicals: Chemical necessary for medicine and other needs
are brought in, as Indonesia lack the physical plants for creating them on
Refined fuels: What the country exports in crude, they
accept to keep transportation and machinery running smoothly.
Food: The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in
particular provide the greatest percentage of processed foodstuff and meats to
Where the republic lacks in technological advancement,
Indonesia is rich in specific natural resources that remain important to global
markets. The rubber soles of shoes you wear, the coffee you drink, and the
phones you use daily may have ties to this region, and as they prosper you may
find more of what you use originates from Indonesia.
Photo by Yohanes Budiyanto.