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name Indonesia comes from the Greek words: Indos, meaning "Indian"
and nesos, which means "islands."
WARNING: Terrorist threats
continue in Indonesia, please read this
travel warning before going!
Although ethnically and culturally similar, the people of Indonesia
only have one true unifying factor, which is that their way of life is and always
has been based on geography. As a nation consisting of thousands of islands the
people are and have been very divided over time, leaving each island to establish
its own culture. Among the similarities across the country, ethnicity and religions
are the most important as most of the people are Muslim.
The islands of Indonesia vary in size, population,
and geography as some are quite fertile, others somewhat dry, and others nothing
but volcanic rock. Each also has differing plants and animals as well as nearby
sea conditions and currents. All of these factors have made each island fairly unique
to the others and some islands, such as Borneo and Sumatra are so large they have
dozens of cultures on each.
Today the people on most of the islands continue to live as they have in the past:
living off of the land and the sea. On some of the larger islands though cities
have arisen and urbanization is occurring at a fairly rapid pace as this where the
jobs are being created.
Although life now is similar to what it was in the past, technology and communication
have made travel and news spread much more quickly in many ways creating a more
unified and homogenous culture. Through this process many people are abandoning
their past way of life for economic opportunities or are forgetting cultural aspects
of their island in exchange for a more uniform culture throughout the islands. Many
aspects of the local cultures and linguistic dialects are being abandoned for the
comfort and ease of life in the modern age.
Although the people are becoming more similar culturally and linguistically, from
an occupational viewpoint, there is only a shift in percentages as more people are
working in cities to take industrial or business jobs, leaving life farming or fishing
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