Indonesia is a land of contrast and one of the most diverse places on earth both geographically and biologically. It bridges the gap between the continents of Asia and Australia and is the world's largest archipelago with over 17,500 islands that stretch over 5000 km (~3,000 miles) from east to west. The amount of coral reef the archipelago contains is far far more than neighbor Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The island count varies from 13,500 to over 18,000 depending on the time of year and the tide. The islands straddle the equator, stretching over 1700 km (~1100 miles) from north to south. It's a huge area, and would take a lifetime to explore. This vast and diverse archipelago is like nowhere else on earth. Indonesia has a lot of islands and a lot of ocean to explore. The diving possibilities are virtually unlimited and the variety enormous.
A few centuries ago, many explorers did indeed dedicate their lives to exploring the archipelago but for completely different reasons than we do today. This land is rich with oil, timber, minerals and spices like cloves, pepper, vanilla, and nutmeg. Empires rose and fell due to European and Asian powers trading in these commodities. Serious political games and power struggles were played out in Indonesia for centuries. Great explorers like Ferdinand Magellan, the first European expedition to circle the globe, lost their lives to the spice trade.
Indonesia offers dramatic vistas with topography that varies from rice paddies, mangroves and volcanoes to rain forests and yes, even glaciers. Underwater, the color and diversity of Indonesia's coral reefs is astonishing and unparalleled. The main areas visited for diving at the Nusa Tengarra region (Komodo National Park including Rinca, Lombok, and Sumbawa, famous for their Komodo dragons); Sulawesi Islandsd, north (Manado) and south (Wakatobi); West Papua (formally Irian Jaya, home of the famous Raja Ampat); Kalimantan (South Borneo); and the Banda Sea including Maluku and Ambon, the spice islands.