The Indonesian-American Chamber of Commerce hosted a gala in downtown Atlanta’s Fulton County Atrium Aug. 23 to celebrate the country’s 63rd year of independence and to promote its culture and business opportunities.

Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S. Sujadnan Parnohadiningrat was the keynote speaker at the festive event, which included martial arts performances as well as traditional Indonesian cuisine and dances and a special saxophone serenade by the ambassador.

Indonesia has a population of 220 million, the fourth largest in the world.  The political system has undergone major reforms since 1998, and Mr. Parnohadiningrat said the rise of a vibrant democracy has contributed to economic stability.

Indonesian voters cast some 170 million votes in the 2004 presidential and vice presidential elections, giving Indonesia the distinction of holding the largest single day of elections in the world, he said.

By comparison, the U.S. has about 80 million more people than the Southeast Asian nation, but about 50 million less votes were cast during the 2004 elections here.

After nearly a decade of crisis, Mr. Parnohadiningrat said the Indonesian economy is beginning to show signs of upward stability.

“Despite the slowdown and uncertainty in global economy, Indonesia’s economy is growing at an impressive rate,” he said, noting that the country tallied better than 6 percent gross domestic product growth in 2007.

Foreign direct investment has skyrocketed from $34.7 billion in 2007 to $60 billion in the first seven months of 2008.  Bilateral trade between the two countries grew 12 percent year over year to $80.5 billion in 2007, making Indonesia the U.S.’s 29th largest trading partner.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...