Indonesia and Australia are nations located southeast of Asia, separated by the Timor Sea and the Java Trench. Both have undergone challenges in the economy, government, and demography that are both similar and quite different from the other. Indonesia is the worlds most expansive archipelagic (fragmented) state (Blij 503) with multiple heritages and cultures. Australia has been slowly declining over the past century and continues to economically disintegrate. According to records kept on the economy, government, and demography, both Australia and Indonesia are continuing to be recognized as similar and distinct in their own right.
DEMOGRAPHY AND LAND STRUCTURE
The 275 million people of Indonesia are spread across the 13,000 islands it encompasses. It holds the position as the fourth most populated nation in the world, containing a diversity of people including Javanese, Sudanese, Malays, and Balinese and other smaller groups which make up fifty-five percent of the population. Four of its largest islands are known as the Greater Sunda Islands. Jawa has the smallest area but is largest in population density (with about 120 million), Sumatera is in the west across from Malaysia, Kalimantan (which shares land space with Malaysia on Borneo), and Sulawesi, which is also called Celebes, the wishbone-shaped island of the east. The fifth largest island in New Guinea, which is not primarily a part of Indonesian cultural ties although half of its western side of the island is under Indonesian control.
Australia is approximately 10 times the size of Texas, with a population of eighteen million. 85 percent live in cities, with about 300,000 consisting of the Aboriginal population. Most of the population is concentrated in the core area to the east and southeast, facing the Pacific Ocean. This area is more humid and extends between the Great Dividing Range and the east coast. The eastern, less populous area consists of desert or steppe, which is not primary for living conditions but contains mineral deposits.
RESOURCES AND PRODUCTION
Indonesia has a wide variety of natural resources, consisting of petroleum, palm oil, rubber, lumber, tin, coffee, tea, and other cash crops. However, the population continues on an upward climb that will have a doubling time of 43 years. This creates a much longer-term threat to the countrys future than anything does else do. With this steep climb in population, the nation has already been forced to import large amounts of rice and wheat to feed its people. The land is extremely fertile, consisting of great mountainous areas, tropical rainforests, volcanic soil, deltas, and heavy seasons of rainfall. This creates a problem as well, for although plant life flourishes, the crops that will bring money into the country are not the best for the area. Therefore, the natives must live from what they can grow on the land and by imported goods. Jawa is the most populated island and is also the most agriculturally productive of the five. Jakarta, a port in Jawa, is also one of the Pacific Rims busiest harbors. Large businesses and trading companies flock to this harbor because of the high levels of supplies and the amount of cheap labor that can be found.
Australia has been described as a coastal nation with cities, towns, and farms, which meets the dryer, less hospitable area often called the Outback. To the west, the grassland pastures sent Australia into commercial trading. One of the largest herds of sheep consisting of over 160 million animals produces more than 1/5 of the worlds wool. Cattle are ranched to the east and north, where the climate is moist. This is the part of Australia that has been raising livestock for more than two centuries. Wool, meat, and wheat have long been the nations largest exports. Along the Murray River, rice, grapes, and other citrus fruits are irrigated. Minerals are also one of the nations greatest assets, such as the 10-year gold rush in 1851, where Australia was producing more than 40 percent of the world’s gold. The result of such abundance led to the search and discovery of oil and natural gas, on and off the coast. Coal, before the prices fell, was also a great asset.
POLITICS AND ECONOMY
Unity has been the most upfront concept that the leaders of Indonesia have tried to solve politically. The government went so far as to relocate its people from Jawa to the less populated islands in order to spread out the numbers and de-centralize the island nation. The concept of unity is difficult because of the type of land Indonesia has spread across. With the oceans and mountains and dense forests, the people are very segregated. With over 300 discrete ethnic clusters and approximately 250 languages, there continue to be no defined national social boundaries. Therefore, the national motto, Unity in Diversity is very appropriate.
Australia was recently described as an NDC or Newly Declining Country. This means that it is a seller of raw materials, not finished ones. It is a supplier of meat, livestock, and wheat on an undependable market. The nation has gone deeply into debt. Near the turn of the century, the nations GNP was approximated as the first in the world, and as of 1995, they have fallen to the twenty-second spot. With world trade having fallen in the last four decades by more than half, this nation that depends on exports is falling economically. Japan is its greatest trading partner, with its need for the excess food, metals, and minerals. Australia needs the cheap manufactured goods provided by Japan. However, Australia continues to have tariffs on imported goods, and Asian countries maintain strong tariff barriers against foods and minerals imported. Plus, the Asian marketers are more interested in the cheap labor and high demands found in nations such as Indonesia. As a result, it is difficult for Australia to open its economy and lower the tariffs without fear of reciprocation.
Australia and Indonesia, both found in the southeastern hemisphere of the world, are fighting both similar and differing battles to provide stability. The lands of Indonesia are relatively uniform as spread over its 13,000 islands, except for the highly differing population levels that range over the five main islands. Australia has a much larger landmass, but the population also is heavily focused to the east coast. They are both, however, fighting to maintain stability often disrupted by the sheer diversity of the people and overseen by the Asian giants to the north and northwest. According to records kept on the economy, government, and demography, both Australia and Indonesia are continuing to be recognized as similar and distinct in their own right.