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UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Indonesia

Ancient cultures, extravagant temples, and breathtaking rainforests can all be seen among Indonesia's inscribed sites.

Indonesia, located in Southeast Asia, lies between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Indonesia being the largest island country in the world has more than 17,000 islands out of which 6,000 are inhabited. Indonesia is the world’s largest country that is solely made up of islands. The country is also ranked 4th among the most populous countries in the world with a population of more than 260 million people. UNESCO has a total of 8 World Heritage Sites in Indonesia with four of them being of cultural heritage while the other four are of natural heritage sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Indonesia

Komodo National Park

Komodo is situated in the Lesser Sunda Islands and borders the region between East and West Nusa Tenggara provinces of Indonesia. The park is inclusive of three larger islands of Komodo, Rinca, and Padar including more than 20 other small islands. In 1980 Komodo National Park was established to protect the Komodo dragon which is the largest lizard in the world but since then the Park's conservation goals were extended to protect the whole biodiversity consisting of both terrestrial and marine life. Most people who live around the Park are fishermen originally from other districts. The climate around Komodo National Park is hot and dry characterized by the existence Savannah vegetation.

The islands of Komodo National Park originated from volcanic eruptions. There is the existence of cloud forests which only appear on a few areas that are above 500 meters thus providing a habitat to some endemic flora. The coastal vegetation around Komodo National park consists of mangrove forests that are seen mostly in the protected bays of the three bigger islands. Komodo National Park is rich in vast marine life including coral, pygmy seahorse, sponges, whale sharks, manta, and eagle rays, the blue-ringed octopus among others. There are also a large variety of cetaceans that inhabit the waters of Komodo National Park including sperm whales, blue whales, and small sized dolphins among others. Terrestrial fauna diversity in the park is low as compared to marine life. There are about twelve species of terrestrial snakes in the park, different bird species in both the tropical and savanna region and other mammals.

In 1938, the Padar Island and a part of the Rinca were founded as nature reserves and later on in 1965 the Komodo Island joined them. In January 1977, under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program the Komodo Island was declared a biosphere reserve. In 1980 the three larger islands were declared as a national park and later extended in 1984 to include a section of Flores and the area surrounding the marine. One of the most popular activities in Komodo National Park is scuba diving due to high marine biodiversity with ecotourism as one of the Park's ways to self-finance. UNESCO named Komodo National Park a World Heritage Site in 1991.

Borobudur Temple Compounds

Located about 40 kilometers northwest of Yogyakarta is Borobudur which lies in an elevated area between the two volcanoes of Merbabu-Merapi and Sundoro-Sumbing. Borobudur also lies between the Progo River and the Elo River. The region is known as Kedu Plain which is a sacred Javanese area which according to local myth has adopted the name 'the garden of Java' because of its high agricultural fertility. Borobudur Temple Compounds which is found in Central Java, Indonesia is a designated region for three temples comprising of Borobudur, Pawon, and Mendut Buddhist temples. The three temples which lie along a straight line are believed to have been established between the 8th and 9th centuries during the Sailendra dynasty.

Following a restoration, during the 20th century, the three Buddhist temples in the region were discovered to be lying along a straight line which might or might not be accidental. However, according to the indigenous folk tale, there was a paved brick road with walls on either side extending from Borobudur to Mendut. The story is in conjunction with the temple's alignment because all three temples have the same architectural design and ornamentation copied from the same period and timeline. The Borobudur Temple Compounds has two museums located inside it namely the Samudra Raksa Museum and Karmawibhangga Museum. Aside from the three temples, there is the existence of other Hindu and Buddhist temples scattered throughout the region. UNESCO named Borobudur a World Heritage Site in 1991.

Lorentz National Park

Located in Papua, Indonesia, is Lorentz National Park which was formerly known as Irian Jaya which is the largest National Park in Southeast Asia. The Lorentz National Park was established in 1997 and is named after a Dutch explorer Hendrikus Albertus Lorentz who traveled through Papua during an expedition in 1909 to 1910. Lorentz is one of the most diverse national parks ecologically in the world and the one nature reserve in the Pacific region of Asia to have a full range of attitudinal ecosystem. The Puncak Jaya is the tallest mountain between the Himalayas and the Andes with a height of 4,884 meters. The park has some areas that have never been mapped or explored that are believed to contain many species of plants and animals that are yet to be known. Lorentz National Park has been a habitat for over 25,000 years with the Lorentz forest covering the conventional lands of about eight native ethnic groups. The total population around the Park is approximately between 6,000 and 10,000 people.

The threats to the biodiversity of Lorentz National Park include conversion of forest land for agricultural purposes, illegal species trade, commercial logging, oil and gas mining, and illegal road construction. As of 2005, there were no more reports of commercial logging or the other significant threats to the forest in Lorentz. UNESCO named Lorentz National Park a World Heritage Site in 1999.

Bali Province - Home of the Subak System and the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy

Located on Bali Island, Indonesia is Subak a water management system for the paddy fields on the island developed in the 9th century. The water management system consists of five terraced rice fields and water temples all covering nearly 20,000 hectares of land. However, the temples are the main focus of attention of Subak's cooperative water management. The Balinese agrarian society together with the Balinese temples and Bale Banjar community center are bound by the irrigation system in Subak. The water is managed by priests in water temples who practice Tri Hita Karana Philosophy which is a relationship between humans the earth and the gods. The water temples promote and share a harmonious religious relationship between the people and their environment. UNESCO named Bali Province - Home of the Subak System and the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy a World Heritage Site in 2012.

The Other Unique World Heritage Sites In Indonesia

There are 18 other sites that are on the Tentative List for Indonesia which mean that the Indonesian government intends to consider them for nomination in the future. Since 2015 some organizations have urged the Ministry of Culture to nominate more sites for UNESCO inclusion. An American environmental organization The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has supported the national park authority since 1995. In 2000 the TNC implemented a new management plan to address the ever growing issue of resource exploitation for both marine and terrestrial life mainly caused by a growing fishing community and commercial enterprises established outside some of the parks.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Indonesia Year of Inscription; Type
Bali Province - Home of the Subak System and the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy 2012; Cultural
Borobudur Temple Compounds 1991; Cultural
Komodo National Park 1991; Natural
Lorentz National Park 1999; Natural
Prambanan Temple Compounds 1991; Cultural
Sangiran Early Man Site 1996; Cultural
Sumatra's Tropical Rainforest Heritage 2004; Natural
Ujung Kulon National Park 1991; Natural

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