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President Obama’s Visit to Indonesia: Putting the Country on the Map

From Brookings.edu

President Obama’s visit to Indonesia is not only personal but political. He will have the opportunity to visit the home where he lived as a young boy and the primary school he attended and learned the local language. None of the other 43 American presidents have had this kind of exposure to a non-Western country.

One of the president’s political objectives for this trip is to raise Indonesia’s global profile.

Many Americans underestimate the significance of Indonesia—often described as the most important country in the world that people know the least about. With 230 million inhabitants, it is the fourth most populous nation after China, India, and the United States. Eleven years ago, it began an impressive transition from 30 years of authoritarian rule by former President Soeharto to become arguably the most democratic country in all of East and Southeast Asia. What makes the transition all the more remarkable is that about 85 percent of Indonesia’s citizens are Muslim, showing how democratic values and Islamic beliefs can combine to build a “just and prosperous society,” the main societal goal specified in the Indonesian constitution.

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