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Indonesia and Egypt separated at birth? No, just completely separate.

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Indonesia is an archipelago blessed with vast natural resources. It has abundant natural gas and oil production that, though dwindling, dwarfs Egypt's. The country holds the richest tropical forests outside of the Amazon, the largest copper and gold mine in the world, and is the dominant exporter of commodities ranging from palm oil (with exports worth about $14 billion a year) to natural rubber ($7 billion a year) to plywood and paper.

Indonesia has dramatically more arable land than Egypt, with parts of Java and Bali home to some of the most productive soils on the globe. Traditionally, rich farmland has taken the edge off of economic shocks, with laid off factory workers returning to the village.

Indonesia has enjoyed centuries of maritime trade with China to the east and India to the west. It has a far more literate and productive population than Egypt. 

So, the geographic and economic reality couldn't be more different between Egypt and Indonesia. Indonesia was a funnel for foreign manufacturing investment before the 1998 economic crisis that led to Soeharto's downfall, and was so again a few years after. The country was soon booming again –thanks in part to having China and India nearby – creating jobs and leading average Indonesians to be happier with political change. Egypt, with creaky infrastructure and low productivity, has been losing manufacturing jobs for years. Egypt's prospects for a fast economic recovery – let alone a boom like Indonesia's – are much grimmer, and economics influences politics.


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