Indonesia

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Indonesia the fourth most populous nation of the world, covers a vast area of SE Asia. Its people are unevenly distributed among more than 15,000 islands, many of which are too small or too barren to offer a settled living to anyone. The islands vary enormously in size, climate, soil, and population density. Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) is roughly the size of France, and has about as many inhabitants as Paris. Sumatra is comparable in size with Spain or Queensland. Sulawesi (Celebes) is rather less than half as big, Java scarcely as large as England—yet Java supports over 110 million people, nearly half the total population. Dozens of smaller islands are still big enough to contribute to the country’s food resources, and in E. Indonesia a few tiny islands for centuries supplied the Old World with its most treasured spices.