This was one of the first postcard swaps I made outside of the official Postcrossing site. It is still my only card from Indonesia which happens to one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that I have yet to visit. I need to take care of that someday soon!
The Republic of Indonesia (Republik Indonesia) is the world’s largest island country, with more than thirteen thousand islands. It has an estimated population of over 260 million people making it the world’s fourth most populous country. Indonesia has 34 provinces, of which five have Special Administrative status. Its capital and is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and the eastern part of Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Indonesian archipelago has been an important region for trade since at least the seventh century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders and Sufi scholars brought the now-dominant Islam, while European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism starting from Amboina and Batavia, and eventually all of the archipelago including Timor and West Papua, at times interrupted by Portuguese, French and British rule, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia’s history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, mass slaughter, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.
Indonesia consists of hundreds of distinct native ethnic and linguistic groups. The largest — and politically dominant — ethnic group are the Javanese. A shared identity has developed, defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a Muslim-majority population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia’s national motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (“Unity in Diversity” literally, “many, yet one”), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world’s second highest level of biodiversity. The country has abundant natural resources like oil and natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Agriculture mainly produces rice, tea, coffee, spices and rubber. Indonesia’s major trading partners are Japan, the United States and the surrounding countries of Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
The island province of Bali is located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. Its capital, Denpasar, is located in the southern part of the island. Bali is a popular tourist destination, which has seen a significant rise in tourists since the 1980s. It is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. It is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species. In this area alone over 500 reef building coral species can be found. For comparison, this is about seven times as many as in the entire Caribbean.
This postcard depicts Tanah Lot, a rock formation located about 12 miles (20 kilometers from Denpasar. It is home to the pilgrimage temple Pura Tanah Lot, a popular tourist and cultural icon for photography. Tanah Lot means “Land [in the] Sea” in the Balinese language. The temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide. It is claimed to be the work of the sxteenth-century Dang Hyang Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island’s beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock, for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods. The main deity of the temple is Dewa Baruna or Bhatara Segara, who is the sea god or sea power and these days, Nirartha is also worshipped here.
The Tanah Lot temple was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples was established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. In addition to Balinese mythology, the temple was significantly influenced by Hinduism. At the base of the rocky island, venomous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The temple is purportedly protected by a giant snake, which was created from Nirartha’s selendang (a type of sash) when he established the island.
In 1980, the temple’s rock face was starting to crumble and the area around and inside the temple started to become dangerous. The Japanese government then provided a loan to the Indonesian government of Rp 800 billion (approximately US$130 million) to conserve the historic temple and other significant locations around Bali. As a result, over one third of Tanah Lot’s “rock” is actually cleverly disguised artificial rock created during the Japanese-funded and supervised renovation and stabilization program. The area leading to Tanah Lot is highly commercialized and people are required to pay to enter the area. To reach the temple, visitors must walk through a set of Balinese market-format souvenir shops which cover each side of the path down to the sea. On the mainland clifftops, restaurants have also been provided for tourists.