name Indonesia has its roots in two Greek words: "Indos"
meaning Indian and "Nesos" which means islands. The
largest archipelago in the world, Indonesia lies at the
crossroads between the Indian and Pacific oceans and bridges the
continental landmasses of Asia and Australia.
It is one of the most volcanic and the most
seismically active regions in the world: of its more than 400
volcanoes, 128 are considered active and 75 had erupted in
historic times with more or less disastrous effects to the
surrounding populations. Even today eruptions of varying
magnitude occur regularly, rejuvenating the soil to make it
among the most fertile on earth. Flanked by the tepid equatorial
waters of two of the world's great oceans, the land rises from
the darkest depths of some of the world's deepest oceans through
to the towering peaks of the volcanoes and the realm of
perennial snow of the Jayawijaya mountain range in Irian Jaya.
It seems natural that the migratory waves of
peoples from the Asian mainland in search of new dwellings began
millennia ago. They found these islands a most ideal place to
settle down. In the course of time, distinct ethnic groups
evolved in the regions where they settled down. Tourism has
taken on a slightly different connotation in the Indonesian
archipelago. Originally referring especially to small-scale, low
impact visits to wildlife reserves; the Tourism now encompasses
any form of that minimizes impact on the social and natural
environment. The concept is especially important in Indonesia,
as only a handful of areas are equipped to accommodate visitors
in any number.
Bali, Yogyakarta, Lake Toba and Toraja can
handle the peak season hordes in stride, with established
facilities and people well acquainted with the requirement and
attitudes of visiting foreigners. But a few steps off the beaten
tourist trail, a whole archipelago waits to be explored.
Spectacular vistas, vibrant cultures and unique experiences will
conjure memories a visitor will cherish for life, but those
memories may be all that remains if uncontrolled tourism rides
roughshod over unprepared communities and fragile ecosystem. In
view of the great diversity of Indonesia's physical and cultural
make-up, a careful selection of the subjects of interest is
recommended, as well as prior contact with the proper private or
government organizations and agencies. The Directorate General
of Culture, for example, may provide the necessary guidance for
special interest visits pertaining to culture or history.
The Indonesia Institute of Sciences (LIPI) is
the overall organization in charge of scientific research. In
some cases, special permits have to be obtained, such as from
the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature
Conservation (PHPA) for visits to the nature reserves. The
Department of Industry, the Department of Trade, the Indonesian
Foreign Investment Board and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce
and Industry (KADIN/CCI) are all concerned with trade and
industry. In case of doubt, it is well advised to contact the
nearest Indonesian Tourist Information Offices or Diplomatic
Missions where special requirements may have to be met.