The biggest Muslim country in the world has lived through some big changes over the past 10 years. The end of the dictatorship and its opening up to the world, and the recent election of a president from a poor background, might convince you to visit Indonesia.
Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, nicknamed "Jokowi", came to power on Monday, 20th October 2014. This 53 year old rock fan from a modest background is a new departure for Indonesian politics. In less than 10 years he has propelled himself to the top by emphasising his origins as a "man of the people". He is the first head of state who has no personal or political links to General Suharto, who was the country's dictator for 3 decades. Although Indonesia is understandably buzzing, there is still a lot to do before the country becomes truly democratic.
In the news recently relations between West Papua and the Indonesian army have been a thorny subject. A peaceful demonstration ended with the death of 5 people. People living in West Papua were demonstrating against the fact that they feel like they are treated as sub-citizens by Indonesia.
And it's true that certain liberties are still violated. For example, the two British documentary film makers who were recently arrested and imprisoned for filming without the correct visa (which, is almost impossible to obtain). -
The guerilla movement struggling to free West Papua is on the United States' list of terrorists.
We'll have to wait and see if the passion that the president incites has positive impacts. His recent relations with China and his involvement in the Association of South East Asian Nations have only served to reinforce his dominance.
But will his ambition to reinforce Indonesia's maritime domination, by making the nation a crossroads between Asia and the west, be scuppered by the rising troubled waters?
Of course, the country could also use its natural riches to develop sustainable tourism. I think you should definitely visit Indonesia.
I am going there soon, so you can follow my adventures on my blog (May 2015). While you are waiting, there are some interesting stories there.