Indonesia’s Moment

by Robert Pringle

It is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and a highly successful democracy. How did Indonesia do it?

It is hard for a nation of 240 million, and one that is overwhelmingly Muslim and a democracy at that, to slip beneath the radar, but until recently that has been Indonesia’s fate. Like dozens of other less developed countries, it has rarely come to the world’s attention except when it suffered a coup or a particularly sensational natural disaster. In November, however, even as the nation’s perennially active Mount Merapi was dramatically erupting again, Indonesia was in the spotlight for another reason, as a visit by President Barack Obama signaled that the country he first saw as a small child has emerged from obscurity.

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