The Republic of Indonesia (RI), or familiarly known as Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia that is located on the equator and situated between the Asian and Australian continents and between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. As it lies between two continents and two oceans, Indonesia is also called "Nusantara" (archipelago in between). Consisting of 17,508 islands, Indonesia is the largest archipelagic country in the world.
With a population of 222 million people in 2006, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, although it is officially not an Islamic state.
The Indonesian government type is a republic, where the House of Representatives and the president are directly elected. The capital city of Indonesia is Jakarta. Indonesia shares borders with Malaysia on Borneo island, with Papua New Guinea on Papua island, and with East Timor on Timor island. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, and the union territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India.
The history of Indonesia has been influenced by other nations. The Indonesian archipelago became an important trading area at least since the 7th century, when the Kingdom of Sriwijaya established religious and trade relations with China and India. Hindu and Buddhist Kingdoms have developed in the early AD centuries, followed by the traders who brought Islam, and also came various European countries who fought with one another to monopolize the spice trade in the Moluccas during the era of ocean exploration. After about 350 years of Dutch rule, Indonesia declared its independence at the end of World War II. Subsequently, Indonesia faced challenges from natural disasters, corruption, separatism, the process of democratization and the period of rapid economic change.
Stretching from Sabang to Merauke, Indonesia consists of various ethnic, linguistic and religious diversities. The Javanese are the largest ethnic group and, politically, the most dominant. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity"), means a diversity that builds the country. Besides having a large population and densely-populated regions, Indonesia possesses a natural area that supports the second highest level of biodiversity in the world