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Indonesian Geography


Look at a map of Indonesia. You will see that the Indonesian islands are very close to the equator. Due to its location, Indonesia does not experience the severe winters that many places in the United States or Europe experience. The sea also contributes to the lack of sharp seasonal changes. In most of Indonesia, there are only two seasons, each of which is about six months long. The first season is the rainy season, and the second is the dry, slightly cooler season (April to October). During the rainy season (November to March), it rains almost every day. West Java gets as much as 200 inches annually. Only one island in Indonesia ever has any snow. That island is Irian Jaya. This is because the highest mountain in Indonesia known as 'Puncak Jaya' is in Irian Jaya, and its peak is above the snow line.

At sea level, temperatures range between 20-30 degrees Celsius, or around 80 degrees Fahrenheit round the year. There is a great deal of humidity. In the mountains however, the temperature falls about two degrees Fahrenheit for every 656 ft of altitude. Towns at a higher altitude like Bandung can therefore get quite pleasant even in the wet season. 



Many of Indonesia's islands were formed when volcanoes erupted under the sea, creating tall mountains which rose above the surface of the water. The island of Java was formed in this way, and to this day many volcanoes on Java are active. There are interesting stories about many of these volcanoes. Two examples are Tangkuban Prahu and Bromo.

TANGKUBAN PRAHUThe Tangkuban Prahu volcano is near the city of Bandung (see map). "Tangkuban Prahu" means overturned boat. Once upon a time, a prince fell in love with a queen who did not want to marry him. So the queen agreed to marry the prince on one condition: the prince would have to build a dam and a huge boat in one night. The prince worked very hard, and as the night wore on, it looked like he would actually accomplish his task! Seeing this, the queen convinced the gods to make the sun rise early. Hearing the cocks crow as the sun rose, the angry prince turned his almost-completed boat over. Tangkuban Prahu is the boat.

BROMO"Bromo" is the Javanese word for Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. The story of Bromo goes like this: Once, an ogre fell in love with a princess. The king set the ogre the task of digging out a mountain in one night, using only one half of a coconut shell. If the ogre was successful, he would win the hand of the princess. When it seemed like the ogre would actually complete his task, the king made his servants pound some rice. This made the cocks crow, thinking it was dawn. The angry ogre flung the coconut shell away leaving a hollowed mountain, in which stands the volcano Bromo. He then died of exhaustion. Aren't the stories of Tangkuban Prahu and Bromo very similar?