Indonesia consists of more than 17,000 islands; 6,000 are inhabited. It includes the world’s second largest rainforest and vast coral reefs. Though long under colonial rule by Portugal, the Netherlands, Britain and Japan, independence was finally gained in 1945. Today, Indonesia is the world’s third-largest democracy. It is also the world’s fourth most-populated country, with 253 million people representing hundreds of ethnic groups. The diverse economy is based on natural gas, forestry, agriculture, textiles, minerals and the service industry. Half the population, however, survives on less than two dollars a day. 40 percent of children do not progress beyond elementary education.