A tropical archipelago of more than 17,000 islands of great diversity and beauty, Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest country in terms of population and potentially immensely wealthy, yet slightly over half her 240 million people are poor — in the words of the Djakarta Post, ‘hovering around the poverty line on less than US$2 a day’. According to the Asian Development Bank, Indonesia is the only south-east Asian country in which the numbers of the poor are rising — ‘a situation of chronic hardcore poverty’. The World Bank reports that 55 per cent of these poor people have limited primary education, 50 per cent have no access to clean water, and a quarter of their children under 5 are malnourished. It is estimated that by 2015 almost half of this underclass will be living in city slums.
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