Indonesia is a democratic country that applies a presidential system and Pancasila is the soul of the Indonesian democracy. Pancasila is the philosophic fundamentals of the state. Pancasila consists of five principles that are interrelated and inseparable, namely:
1. The belief in one God
2. A just and civilized humanism
3. Unity of Indonesia
4. Democratic citizenship lead by wise guidance born of representative consultation
5. Social justice for all the people of Indonesia
Indonesia has 34 provinces (including 2 Special Territories of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Yogyakarta) and one Special Capital Region of Jakarta (DKI). East Timor was once part of Indonesia, but then through a referendum in 1999, East Timor became the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste.
The population of Indonesia can be divided into two major groups: in the western region most of the people are from the Malay ethnicity while in the eastern region there are the Papuans originating from the Melanesian Islands. Indonesia also recognizes specific ethnic groups that come from a certain province/area and have specific language for example the Javanese from Central or East Java, the Sundanese from West Java or the Batak ethnicity from North Sumatra.
In addition, there are also minority ethnicities derived from Chinese, Indian and Arabic descendents. These people travelled as merchants through trade exchange since the 8th century BC and migrated to Indonesia. Approximately 3% of the population is from Chinese ethnicity, although the exact percentage is not known as the last ethnicity census was held in the 1930s.
Islam is the major religion of 85.2% of the population, designating Indonesia as the largest Moslem country in the world. The remaining population consists of Protestants (8.9%); Catholics (3%); Hindus (1.8%); Buddhists (0.8%) and other religion (0.3%).
As in other democratic countries, Indonesia applies the Trias Politica that recognizes the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial bodies. The executive institution is centralized under the president, vice president, and the cabinet of ministers. The cabinet is a presidential cabinet in which the ministers report to the president and do not represent the political parties.
The legislative authority is under the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) that consists of two bodies namely the Parliament composing of members of political parties and the Regional Representative Council (DPD) composing of representatives from each province in Indonesia. Each province is represented by 4 delegates that are elected by the people in the respective region.
The People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) is the highest state institution. Upon the Amendment of the 1945 Constitution, the membership of the MPR starting the period of 1999-2004, was amended to include not only the members of the parliament (DPR) but also the members of the DPD. Formerly the MPR consisted of the parliament members and group representatives. Currently, the MPR has 550 members from the parliament and 128 members from the Regional Representative Council (DPD). The parliament members and the DPD members are elected every five years. Since 2004, the MPR has become a bi-chamber parliament with the DPD as second chamber.
The judicial institution -since the reform era and upon the amendment of the 1945 Constitution- is administered by the Supreme Court including the administration of the judges.
Indonesia has abundant natural resources outside Java including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Despite being the second largest exporter of natural gas, Indonesia recently has become a net importer of crude oil. The agriculture products of Indonesia include rice, tea, coffee, spices and rubber. The major trade partners of Indonesia are Japan, the United States of America and neighboring countries namely Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. In the 1990’s, Indonesia’s economy experienced a set-back as a consequence of the economy crisis that hit most Asian countries. However, the economy is now relatively stable.