Indonesia is a archipelago of around 17,508 islands that lies roughly along the equator between Sumatra in the west and to Papua in the east - a distance of around 5,000 km or 3,110 miles. The fourth most populous country in the world, it is also one of the most cosmopolitan - its strategic location gives Indonesia a rich history dating from at least the 7th century of competing trading nations and colonising powers.
Modern Indonesia is an economic powerhouse in South East Asia with around 300 ethnic groups influenced by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, and European sources. Tourism to the country from the UK and Europe is sharply rising, partially because of a weaker currency (Rupiah) but also because of Indonesia's developing resorts that make it increasingly attractive to those who may have previously visited Thailand and other more traditional SE Asia destinations.
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Batam is an island to the north of the main island forming Indonesia. Batam island sits 12 miles (20 km) off the south coast of Singapore and is a free trade zone within the Indonesia-Malaysia-Singapore Growth Triangle. Part of Riau Island Province of Indonesia, and including other largely unihabited islands close by, Batam is also the major city and one of the fastest growing municipalities in Indonesia. Five ferry terminals connect Batam with nearby Singapore as well as with Johor Bahru on the Malaysia peninsula. Batam has a Muslim majority speaking Bahasa Indonesia but is home to a wide range of races, religions and languages including Malay, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects and English.
The island of Bali is the smallest province of Indonesia and lies between Java to the west and Lombok to the East. Bali includes some smaller neighbouring islands such as Nusa Penida. Bali is Indonesia's largest tourist destination and has numerous excellent beaches that are great for anything from simply relaxing and sunbathing to active water sports including surfing and scuba diving. Home to most of Indonesia's Hindu minority, Bali is a rich cultural experience for UK and Europe tourists noted for high standards of hospitality. Resorts mix with chaotic street markets of Kuta, very lively nightlife of Seminyak and Kerobokan, beautiful rice fields, central mountains and defunct volcanoes and a host of ancient monuments.