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INDONESIA

With 18,110 islands, 6,000 of them inhabited, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population in the world and markets itself as Wonderful Indonesia.

Home to no less than 167 active volcanoes, some of the more accessible for visitors are in the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and the Ijen Crater in East Java, Mount Rinjani in Lombok and perhaps easiest of all, Mount Batur in Bali. Aside from the obvious like Bali, there are wonderful beaches in off-the-beaten-track locations in Maluku, Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi.

Indonesia has some of the largest remaining tracts of tropical forest anywhere in the world, and these support an incredibly diverse wildlife from Orangutans and other primates to critically endangered Javan Rhinoceros and Tigers, and an extraordinarily wide range of bird species. Forest areas recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites are Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java, and three huge parks in Sumatra, which together comprise the Tropical Rain Forest Heritage of Sumatra: Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Gunung Leuser National Park and Kerinci Seblat National Park.

Further east, Komodo Island is the home of the remarkable Komodo Dragon and a very diverse marine life. Close to the very eastern limit of Indonesia, the remote Lorentz National Park in Papua has a permanent glacier, and is the single largest national park anywhere in Southeast Asia.

Borobudur in Central Java is the world's largest Buddhist monument, dating from the 8th century and nearby Prambanan is a remarkable Hindu monument dating from just a few years later. Those two, together with the charm of Yogyakarta, make for a popular cultural combination in Central Java. Also in Central Java, the Dieng Plateau is home to the oldest extant temples in Indonesia, predating Borobudur by some 100 years, and just north of Solo, the early man archaeological excavation at Sangiran is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The label jamu covers a vast range of local medicinal drinks for various diseases. Jamu are available in ready-to-drink form as well as in powder satchets or capsules. Most of them are bitter and drunk for the supposed effect, not the taste. Famous brands of jamu include Iboe, Sido Muncul, Jago and Meneer.

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