Coastline of Indonesia

Friday, 6 March 2009

Due to the large number of islands, Indonesia has about 54,720 km (about 34,000 mi) of coastline, much more than most countries. The country claims all waters surrounding its islands to 12 nautical miles (22 km/14 mi) from the coastline. Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone, an area of the ocean in which the country controls fishing and other rights, extends 200 nautical miles (370 km/230 mi) from its shore.

Much of the northeastern coast of Sumatra and the coasts of Kalimantan and Papua are low and swampy with extensive mangrove forests. Along the coastal regions of northern Java, northeastern Sumatra, and southwestern Sulawesi, local villagers have developed ponds in the brackish tidal waters of mangrove forests. The ponds are used for the farming of fish and prawns. When world prawn prices rose in the early 1980s, villagers expanded the ponds into paddy fields lying further inland. They used pumps to mix seawater and irrigation water to help the fish and prawns thrive.

In stark contrast, the coastlines along the southern edges of Java, Sumatra, and some of the smaller islands of eastern Indonesia (such as Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, and Sumba) are exposed to the swells that roll in from the Indian Ocean. These areas contain some of the world’s best surfing beaches, attracting large numbers of tourists. Bali is particularly renowned for its beaches. Tourists are also attracted to the coral reefs and atolls that extend down the southwestern coast of Sulawesi and surround many of the smaller islands of eastern Indonesia.

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