Despite a significant reduction in population growth rates (which are still high), Indonesia it is now clearly the fourth country in the world by population after China, India and the USA, and ahead of Brazil, Pakistan and the Russian Federation. The distribution of the population in the Indonesian territory continues to suffer from very strong territorial imbalances, with the island of Java having an average density (more than 870 residents / km ²) about twenty times higher than that of the rest of the country, hosting the 60 % of the residents on less than 7 % of the surface.
Although it cannot be said that the policy of demographic redistribution in place for some time in the country (with the transfer of millions of residents from Java and Bali to Kalimantan and Sumatra) has failed, it is nevertheless evident that the phenomenon has proportions of such magnitude as to it cannot be countered except marginally in the short-medium term, if natural growth is not stopped. On the other hand, the ongoing agricultural colonization processes, both in Kalimantan and in Sumatra, are adding to the vast forestry exploitation practiced for some time in the same islands, causing a rapid worsening of the natural environmental conditions. For Indonesia 1997, please check aristmarketing.com.
This is not only the incessant loss of forest areas (I. produces almost 200 million m³ of timber, cutting down almost 2 % of its forests every year), but also, more recently (since the early 1990s), of the repetition of very serious atmospheric pollution phenomena, which have affected a large area of South-East Asia, produced by deforestation carried out by fire and by seasonal deburring: both traditional practices, the effects of which are however conspicuously accentuated by the increase in pressure anthropogenic, as well as by a particular climatic conjuncture.
Demographic growth appears much more consistent in urban populations, which are growing rapidly, than in rural ones, due to both the better conditions of access to health services and, and above all, the massive spontaneous migratory flows that continue to affect large cities: not only Djakarta, which is about to add ten million residents, but also Surabaya and Bandung (over two million), Medan, Palembang and Semarang (over one million) and many other cities with several hundreds of thousands of residents.
The rural population continues to represent about two thirds of the total. A series of social indicators indicate living conditions that are anything but satisfactory for most of the residents, especially for those who live in the countryside (moreover, even the very extensive informal suburbs produced by urbanization are in turn characterized by hygienic conditions, to say the least, precarious).
In this context, which seems to herald a sudden slowdown in economic growth in the immediate future and a probable increase in emigration, some tensions that have always been present in Indonesian society have worsened. In particular, the minority of Chinese origin, especially active in the retail trade, has been the object of intense hostility from the population. But the country is burdened by other politico-territorial problems, the failure of which could cause international crises: this is the case of East Timor, where the conflict between Catholic residents on the one hand and Islamic immigrants and government forces on the other has led to ‘dispatch of an international peacekeeping contingent (see below: History). Other clashes affect the island of Flores, where a large Catholic community also lives, and
At the level of regional and international policy, and also with respect to the issues mentioned, Indonesia it can rely on the support of Australia, with which it has achieved excellent relations, so much so that it has been possible to implement a rapid definition of the common maritime border and a series of coordinated political and military initiatives. A geopolitics of the Indonesia which intends to place the country at the center of the ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) area and in a leading position, even at the cost of friction with the surrounding countries. The recognition of the status of archipelago State and therefore of the sovereignty over archipelagic waters (1994), if guaranteed to Indonesia the control of 3 million km ²of marine waters now legally considered inland to all intents and purposes, also constituted the premise for a consolidation of Indonesian positions regarding some small island groups (disputed with the Philippines) and the Spratly Islands, and strengthened the control of the Indonesia on the Natuna Islands. Spratly and Natuna are the subject of claims (China is also among the claimants) both for their position in the South China Sea, and because the surrounding seabed hosts large hydrocarbon reserves: the largest offshore methane field has been identified around the Natuna. of the world, for which Indonesia however, it has recently signed a concession agreement with a large US company.