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Borobudur
Construction of Java’s Borobudur Temple, one of the world’s largest Buddhist monuments and a World Heritage site, began in the eighth century, under the Sailendra dynasty. Framed by four volcanoes, it stands 105 feet (32 meters) high.

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Mount Semeru and Bromo
Some Indonesians believe that belching volcanoes such as Mount Semeru (in background) and Mount Bromo (in foreground) are portals to a subterranean world that has shaped not only Indonesia’s landscape but also its beliefs and culture. A long exposure time captured stars in this photo—and the brief balanced light from both a fading moon and a brightening eastern sky.

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Goa Gajah, Bali
The intricately carved walls of Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) on the island of Bali depict leaves, waves, animals, and demons.

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Istiqlal, Jakarta
Jakarta’s Istiqlal Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world, can hold more than 70,000 worshippers at a time. Arab traders brought Islam to the region a thousand years ago. Today Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country.

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Minangkabau Ladies
Young Minangkabau women in traditional clothes wait to perform a dance in Bagor.

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Borobudur
Borobudur Temple was damaged in an earthquake and buried for centuries under volcanic ash. Excavations began in the early 20th century.

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Rice Paddies, Bali
Rice paddies cover terraces built into an Indonesian hillside. Farmers on Java are surrounded by more than 30 volcanoes, which provide the rich volcanic ash that allows them to harvest three crops of rice in a season—unlike farmers on neighboring Borneo, who have only one volcano.

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Balinese Dancers
Opulent costumes adorn performers in a Balinese barong dance, which brings mythological characters to life in a struggle between good and evil, complete with choreographed fight scenes reminiscent of professional wrestling.

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Carved Mask, Bali
Bali craftsmen create everything from carvings to paintings in hopes of catching a tourist’s eye. Traditional carved masks, called topeng, are also used in Balinese dances.

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Raja Ampat Islands, Papua
The islands of Raja Ampat may well be home to the greatest biodiversity in the world, with almost 600 species of coral, abundant plant life, and unique creatures, such as a shark that walks on its fins and a shrimp that looks like a praying mantis.

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Komodo Dragon, Komodo
Komodo National Park is the last sanctuary for the endemic Komodo dragon, native only to Indonesia. Largest of all lizards, it can reach a fearsome ten feet (three meters) in length.

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Nusa Dua Temple, Bali
Indonesian women take part in a procession to Nusa Dua temple in southern Bali, carrying offerings atop their heads. Southern Bali is also known for its beaches and five-star hotels.

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Coral Reef, Sulawesi
Scuba divers explore a coral reef off Manado Tua Island. The island nations of the tropical western Pacific cradle the richest coral life on the planet. The development of reefs owes much to oceanic volcanoes such as Manado Tua, near the northeastern tip of Sulawesi. The submerged slopes of the volcanoes give corals a toehold on which to grow.

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Village Initiation, Bali
Young men in the Bali village of Tenganan take part in perang pandan, a traditional ritual.

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Pura Ulun Danu Temple, Bali
The water temple of Pura Ulun Danu on Lake Bratan in Bali serves the faithful in the mountainous area near Bedugul.

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Mount Penanggungan, Java
In a sacred pool on the slopes of Java’s Mount Penanggungan, men bathe beside statues of Sri and Lakshmi, the consorts of the Hindu god Vishnu.

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Orangutans, Sumatera
Orangutans are native only to Indonesia and Malaysia. The endangered great apes have lost much of their habitat to deforestation.

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Coffee Plantation, West Java
A woman pauses in an intricately carved doorway on a coffee plantation in west Java. Draped across 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers), Indonesia is a cloth of many colors, comprising five main islands and 30 smaller archipelagoes, with a collection of cultures as diverse as its geography. Historically the center of wealth and power, the island of Java still dominates, though 250 unique languages still survive.