U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Indonesia, December 1995
Bureau of Public Affairs
Official Name: Republic of Indonesia
Area: 2 million sq. km. (736,000 sq. mi.).
Cities: Capital--Jakarta (est. 8.6 million). Other cities--Surabaya
(2.4 million), Medan (1.7 million), Bandung (2 million), Semarang (1
Terrain: More than 17,000 islands, the large ones consisting of coastal
plains with mountainous interiors.
Climate: Equatorial but cooler in highlands.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Indonesian(s).
Population: 195 million.
Annual growth rate: 1.6%.
Ethnic groups: Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, coastal Malays, Bataks,
Languages: Indonesian (official), local languages, the most important
of which is Javanese.
Education: Years compulsory--nine. Literacy--85%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--58/1000 live births. Life expectancy--
men 61, women 65.
Work force (90 million, 1995 est.): Agriculture--50%. Commerce--15%.
Services--14%. Manufacturing--11%. Other industry--10%.
Type: Independent republic.
Independence: August 17, 1945.
Branches: Executive--president (head of government and chief of state).
Legislative--500-member House of Representatives (DPR), 1,000-member
People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). Judicial--Supreme Court. Under
the 1945 constitution, two other government bodies (the Supreme Audit
Board examines government accounts and the Supreme Advisory Council
advises the president on matters of state) are considered branches of
government on the same level as the executive, legislative, and judicial
Subdivisions: 27 provinces (including three special territories),
divided into 241 districts and 56 municipalities.
Political parties: Golkar (federation of groups), Indonesian Democracy
Party (PDI), United Development Party (PPP).
Suffrage: Universal at 17 and for married persons regardless of age
(except for members of the armed forces, who do not vote).
GDP (1994): $174 billion.
Annual growth rate: 7.3%.
Per capita income: $908.
Natural resources: Oil and gas (8% of GDP), bauxite, silver, tin,
copper, gold, coal.
Agriculture (17% of GDP): Products--timber, rubber, rice, palm oil,
coffee. Land--17% cultivated.
Manufacturing (24% of GDP): Products--garments, footwear, electronic
goods, furniture, paper products.
Trade (est.): Exports--$40 billion: Oil and gas, plywood, textiles and
apparel. Imports--$32 billion: raw materials for industry and capital
The United States has important economic, commercial, and security
interests in Indonesia because of its growing economy and markets and
its strategic location astride a number of key international straits.
Relations between Indonesia and the U.S. are positive. The U.S. played
an important role in Indonesian independence in the late 1940s. The
U.S. and Indonesia maintain cordial and cooperative security
arrangements although the two countries are not bound in any formal
The United States and Indonesia share the common goal of maintaining
peace, security, and stability in the region and maintain a dialogue on
threats to regional security. The United States has welcomed
Indonesia's contributions to regional security, especially its leading
role in helping achieve a settlement in Cambodia and in mediating among
the many territorial claimants in the South China Sea. The United
States and Indonesia maintain a modest but fruitful program of military
cooperation which includes military training, ship and aircraft visits,
joint exercises, and mutual visits of ranking military officers.
Friction points in the bilateral political relationship in recent years
have centered on human rights, especially in East Timor, and also on the
rights of workers. In 1992, the U.S. Congress suspended the
international military and education training (IMET) program for
Indonesia in response to a November 12, 1991, shooting incident in East
Timor involving Indonesian security forces and peaceful Timorese
demonstrators; this congressional restriction remains in effect. The
U.S. supports UN efforts to promote a dialogue between Indonesia and
Portugal to resolve their differences regarding the political status of
On worker rights, Indonesia was the target of two 1992 petitions filed
under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) legislation. The
petitions argued that Indonesia did not meet recognized international
norms for labor relations because of excessive military involvement in
legitimate labor activity and severe restraints on the right to organize
a union. A formal GSP review was suspended in February 1994 without
terminating GSP benefits for Indonesia, but an active dialogue continues
on worker rights issues.
Indonesia was graduated from Foreign Military Financing funding in 1991.
As noted, the IMET program for Indonesia was suspended by the U.S.
Congress in 1992 because of human rights concerns surrounding East
Timor. Military cooperative and procurement programs that continue
include foreign military sales, direct commercial sales, and the defense
cooperation in armaments program. In 1995, the total value of active
foreign military sales approached $550 million; in the last few years,
these have supported Harpoon missiles, F-16s, and torpedoes.
Trade and Investment
U.S. exports to Indonesia in 1994 totaled $2.8 billion. The main
exports were machinery, cotton, and aircraft and parts. U.S. imports
from Indonesia totaled $6.5 billion, an increase of 20% from 1993. Main
imports included footwear, electronic goods, and garments.
The U.S. Government offers loans and loan guarantees from the Export-
Import Bank for exports to Indonesia. In addition, the Overseas Private
Investment Corporation provides specific risk and extended risk
guarantees for U.S. investment in Indonesia. Further information on
leading trade prospects, project financing, and investment and trade
regulations can be found in the Country Commercial Guide to Indonesia
(available electronically from the National Trade Data Bank--see box--or
in hard copy from the U.S. National Technical Information Service at
Economic assistance to Indonesia is coordinated through the Consultative
Group on Indonesia (CGI), formed in 1992. It includes 19 donor
countries and 13 international organizations and meets annually to
coordinate donor assistance. The July 1995 meetings resulted in pledges
totaling $5.4 billion, with Japan's contribution at $2.16 billion. The
United States pledged about $89 million.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided
development assistance to Indonesia since 1950. Initial assistance
focused on the most urgent needs of the new republic, including food
aid, infrastructure rehabilitation, health care, and training.
USAID's current program, which supports Indonesia's goal of achieving a
per capita income of $1,000 by the year 2000, focuses on five
-- Sustained economic growth in the transition from economic
development assistance to development cooperation;
-- Improved health and reduced fertility;
-- Decentralized and strengthened natural resources management;
-- Strengthened urban environmental management; and
-- Increased effectiveness of selected institutions which support
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Charge d'Affaires--Barbara S. Harvey
USAID Director--Vivikka Moldrem
Consul General--William H. Barkell
The U.S. embassy in Indonesia is located at Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan 5,
Jakarta (tel. 62-21-360-360). U.S. mail to the embassy may be addressed
to APO AP 96520.
The U.S. consulate general in Medan is at Jl. Imam Bonjol 13, Medan,
North Sumatra (tel. 62-61-322200/060); the Principal Officer position is
The U.S. consulate general in Surabaya is at Jl. Dr. Sutomo 33, Surabaya
East Java (tel. (62-31) 582287/8); the Principal Officer is Mark C.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Indonesia is a republic based on the 1945 constitution providing for a
limited separation of executive, legislative, and judicial power. The
president, elected for a five-year term, is the overwhelmingly dominant
government and political figure.
The president appoints the cabinet, currently composed of four
coordinating ministers (in the fields of political and security affairs,
economic and financial affairs, people's welfare, and industrial and
trade affairs), 13 state ministers, 24 ministers, and three high
officials with status of state minister. Although the judiciary is a
separate branch of government, judges are actually employees of the
Legislative authority is divided between the House of Representatives
(DPR) and the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), both renewed every
five years. The House--with 400 elected members and 100 members
appointed from the armed forces (to be reduced to 75 in accord with a
1995 presidential order)--performs legislative functions, although not
in the manner of similar bodies in Western democratic systems. The MPR,
consisting of the House of Representatives plus an equal number of
appointed members, meets only once in its five-year term, to formulate
the overall principles and aims of the government and to elect the
president and vice president. Representative bodies at all levels in
Indonesia shun voting, preferring to arrive at decisions though
"consultation and consensus."
The party system reflects the Soeharto government's determination to
shift the political focus from Indonesia's deep ethnic, religious, and
ideological differences, which contributed to the collapse of an earlier
experiment in parliamentary democracy. Soeharto's preferred strategy is
an authoritarian, program-based, development-oriented politics. Major
parties are the United Development Party (PPP), composed of various
Muslim groups, and the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), composed of
Christian, socialist, and nationalist elements. Parliamentary elections
held in 1992 gave a 68% majority to Golkar, a federation of groups--
civil servants, youth, labor, farmers, and women--which functions as an
undeclared government party. Golkar and appointed members from the
military dominate the House of Representatives and the MPR.
The armed forces have shaped and staffed Soeharto's New Order since it
came to power in the wake of the abortive 1965 uprising. Military
officers, especially from the army, have been key advisers to Soeharto.
Under a dual function concept, military officers serve in the civilian
bureaucracy at all government levels, although there has been a recent
tendency to reduce the military's direct involvement in the civilian
Indonesia is divided into 27 provinces, including three special
territories and subdivided into 241 districts and 56 municipalities.
The governors of provinces are appointed by the president from nominees
submitted by the provincial legislatures. The executive branch has
substantial influence over who is nominated and also may reject a
provincial legislature's nominees and ask for a new list of candidates.
Principal Government Officials
Vice President--Try Sutrisno
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Ali Alatas
Ambassador to the United States--Arifin Siregar
Ambassador to the United Nations--Nugroho Wisnumurti
The embassy of Indonesia is at 2020 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington,
DC 20036; tel. 202-775-5200-5207; fax 202-775-5365. Consulates general
are in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco, and Chicago.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the Department of State recommends that Americans avoid
travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security
information, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S.
embassies and consulates in the subject country. They can be obtained by
telephone at (202) 647-5225 or by fax at (202) 647-3000. To access the
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board by computer, dial (202) 647-9225, via a
modem with standard settings. Bureau of Consular Affairs' publications
on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad are available
from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
While planning a trip, travelers can check the latest information on
health requirements and conditions with the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-4559
provides telephonic or fax information on the most recent health
advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on
food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication
number CDC-94-8280, price $7.00) is available from the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
Upon their arrival in a country, U.S. citizens are encouraged to
register with the U.S. embassy (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials"
listing in this publication). Such information might assist family
members in making contact en route in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). Available by modem, the CABB
provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and helpful
information for travelers. Access at (202) 647-9225 is free of charge to
anyone with a personal computer, modem, telecommunications software, and
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official weekly magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press
briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc.
DOSFAN is accessible three ways on the Internet:
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a quarterly basis
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Priced at
$80 ($100 foreign), one-year subscriptions include four discs (MSDOS and
Macintosh compatible) and are available from the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 37194, Pittsburgh,
PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
Federal Bulletin Board (BBS). A broad range of foreign policy
information also is carried on the BBS, operated by the U.S. Government
Printing Office (GPO). By modem, dial (202) 512-1387. For general BBS
information, call (202) 512-1530.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
Background Notes Series -- Published by the United States Department
of State -- Bureau of Public Affairs -- Office of Public
Communication -- Washington, DC -- Series Editor: Marilyn J.
Indonesia -- Department of State Publication 7786 -- December 1995
This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without
permission; citation of this source is appreciated. For sale by the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20402.
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