HOW MANY ISLANDS ARE THERE IN INDONESIA?

When you charter superyacht Dunia Baru you’ll be exploring some of the most beautiful archipelagos around Indonesia… but how many islands are there in Indonesia? The country has more than 17,000 islands – yes, seventeen thousand – and most of them are remote, many are almost pristine, and they all provide the perfect backdrop for the adventure of a lifetime. In fact some of the islands are so off-the-radar that most of the world doesn’t know they exist – which we consider pretty awesome… but then, we’re not government of Indonesia.

A 1996 law states that there are 17,508 islands in Indonesia – but, says an article in the Financial Times, it turns out this figure is an estimate and not based on a survey. At the last UN Conference of the Standardisation of Geographical Names in 2012, the Indonesian government had formally counted and registered only 13,466 islands; since then various departments have recorded 1,700 more islands.

The UN Conference of the Standardisation of Geographical Names takes place every five years and the next one is from 8 to 17 August in New York – and Indonesia is currently counting up the country’s islands so that they can all be officially registered at that conference. This isn’t just to have an official figure, but also so that the government can protect Indonesia’s islands and resources.

An island, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, is defined as a naturally formed area of land that is surrounded by water and is still exposed at high tide – and a counting team from the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has been tasked with tallying all the islands up.

“We have to visit every one of these islands, and then we note the coordinates, the name, the meaning of the name, the history of the land and describe the landscape and its geographical history,” Balok Budiyanto, a ministry official leading the team, told the BBC. “We document all that in great detail and bring it back to the central team.”

Indonesia sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire and seismic activity is frequent – which means that since last count (or rather, estimate), some islands will have disappeared while new ones will have emerged. Indonesia’s island “problem” is exacerbated by the fact that it is such a culturally and linguistically diverse country that settling on the name of an island is often an issue. (This article in the BBC states that the name of an island can be officially recognized if it is known by at least two local people… but we’ve not been able to verify this.)

So if all goes according to plan, by early August we should know exactly how many islands there are in Indonesia. In a country that’s more than 5,000km* long, the counting team from the Ministry of Marine Affairs sure has got their work cut out for them.

* How long is 5000km? Draw a straight line from Miami to Seattle, or from London to Portland, Maine, or from Seattle to Guatemala City … those lines will be just a little over 5000km each.

Superyacht Dunia Baru is sailing the water around
Komodo andthe Alor Archipelago between April and
September.From October Dunia Baru will be in
north Indonesia:sailing around Raja Ampat,
Sulawesi, Papua,the Spice Islands and Banda Sea.
The superyacht is available through the year
for charter, and she is based at various
times in Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.
For information on the destinations in which she
sails, please click here. To charter Dunia Baru
please email info@duniabaru.com or
speak to your broker.

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