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Republic of Indonesia
Republik Indonesia
Flag National emblem
Motto: "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" (Old Javanese)
"Unity in Diversity"
National ideology: Pañcasīla12
Anthem: Indonesia Raya
Great Indonesia
Location of  Indonesia  (green)in ASEAN  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]
Location of  Indonesia  (green)

in ASEAN  (dark grey)  –  Legend

and largest city
6°10.5′S 106°49.7′E / 6.1750°S 106.8283°E / -6.1750; 106.8283
Official languages Indonesian
Religion Official:[a]
Demonym Indonesian
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
 •  President Joko Widodo
 •  Vice-President Jusuf Kalla
Legislature People's Consultative Assembly
 •  Upper house Regional Representative Council
 •  Lower house People's Representative Council
 •  Dutch East India Company 20 March 1602 
 •  Netherlands Indies 1 January 1800 
 •  Japanese occupation 9 March 1942 
 •  Declared Independence 17 August 1945 
 •  United States of Indonesia 27 December 1949 
 •  Federation dissolved 17 August 1950 
 •  New Order 12 March 1967 
 •  Reformasi 21 May 1998 
 •  Land 1,904,569 km2 (15th)
735,358 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 4.85
 •  2015 estimate 255,461,7003
 •  2011 census 237,424,3634 (4th)
 •  Density 124.66/km2 (84th)
322.87/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $2.840 trillion4 (8th)
 •  Per capita $11,1354 (102nd)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
 •  Total $895.677 billion4 (16th)
 •  Per capita $3,5114 (117th)
Gini (2010) 35.65
HDI (2013) Steady 0.6846
medium · 108th
Currency Indonesian rupiah (Rp) (IDR)
Time zone various (UTC+7 to +9)
 •  Summer (DST) various (UTC+7 to +9)
Date format DD/MM/YYYY
Drives on the left
Calling code +62
ISO 3166 code ID
Internet TLD .id
a. ^a The government officially recognises only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.7

Indonesia (Listeni/ˌɪndəˈnʒə/ IN-də-NEE-zhə or /ˌɪndˈnziə/ IN-doh-NEE-zee-ə; Indonesian: [ɪndonesia]), officially the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia [rɛpublik ɪndonesia]), is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is the largest island country in the world by the number of islands, with more than fourteen thousand islands.8 Indonesia has an estimated population of over 255 million people and is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority country. The world's most populous island of Java, where the Java programming language gets its name, contains 51% of the country's population.

Indonesia's republican form of government includes an elected legislature and president. Indonesia has 34 provinces, of which five have Special Administrative status. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighbouring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a member of the G-20 major economies. The Indonesian economy is the world's 16th largest by nominal GDP and the 8th largest by GDP at PPP.

The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the 7th century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries CE, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders and sufi scholars brought the now-dominant Islam,910 while European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolise trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism starting from the East Indonesia of West Papua, Timor to eventually all of West Indonesia, at times interrupted by Portuguese, French and British rule, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, mass slaughter, corruption, separatism, a democratisation process, and periods of rapid economic change.

Indonesia consists of hundreds of distinct native ethnic and linguistic groups. The largest – and politically dominant – ethnic group are the Javanese. A shared identity has developed, defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world's second highest level of biodiversity. The country has abundant natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread.1112


Further information: Names of Indonesia

The name Indonesia derives from the Greek words Indós and nèsos, meaning "Indian island".13 The name dates to the 18th century, far predating the formation of independent Indonesia.14 In 1850, George Windsor Earl, an English ethnologist, proposed the terms Indunesians — and, his preference, Malayunesians — for the inhabitants of the "Indian Archipelago or Malayan Archipelago".15 In the same publication, a student of Earl's, James Richardson Logan, used Indonesia as a synonym for Indian Archipelago.1617 However, Dutch academics writing in East Indies publications were reluctant to use Indonesia. Instead, they used the terms Malay Archipelago (Maleische Archipel); the Netherlands East Indies (Nederlandsch Oost Indië), popularly Indië; the East (de Oost); and Insulinde.18

After 1900, the name Indonesia became more common in academic circles outside the Netherlands, and Indonesian nationalist groups adopted it for political expression.18 Adolf Bastian, of the University of Berlin, popularised the name through his book Indonesien oder die Inseln des Malayischen Archipels, 1884–1894. The first Indonesian scholar to use the name was Suwardi Suryaningrat (Ki Hajar Dewantara), when he established a press bureau in the Netherlands with the name Indonesisch Pers-bureau in 1913.14


Main article: History of Indonesia
A Borobudur ship carved on Borobudur, c. 800 CE. Indonesian outrigger boats may have made trade voyages to the east coast of Africa as early as the 1st century CE.19

Pre-historical era

Fossils and the remains of tools show that the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited by Homo erectus, popularly known as "Java Man", between 1.5 million years ago and as recently as 35,000 years ago.202122 Homo sapiens reached the region by around 45,000 years ago.23 In 2011 evidence was uncovered in neighbouring East Timor showing that 42,000 years ago these early settlers were catching and consuming large numbers of big deep sea fish such as tuna,24 and that they had the technology needed to make ocean crossings to reach Australia and other islands.

Austronesian peoples, who form the majority of the modern population, migrated to South East Asia from Taiwan. They arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE, and as they spread through the archipelago, pushed the indigenous Melanesian peoples to the far eastern regions.25 Ideal agricultural conditions, and the mastering of wet-field rice cultivation as early as the 8th century BCE,26 allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to flourish by the 1st century CE. Indonesia's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade, including links with Indian kingdoms and China, which were established several centuries BCE.27 Trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history.2829 In the mid first millennium A.D, Indonesian trader ships to Madagascar as well as eastern coast of Africa.3031

Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms era

Expansion of Srivijayan empire, started in Palembang in 7th century, expanding throughout Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, Java, Cambodia, and receded as Dharmasraya in the 13th century.

Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism arrived in Indonesia in the 4th and 5th century, as trade with India intensified under the southern Indian Pallava dynasty.32 This is evidenced in the Kutai, Tarumanagara, and Kantoli kingdoms of the period. From the 7th century to early 11th, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom become a hegemon in Southeast Asia and flourished as a result of trade and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism that were imported with it.3334 Srivijaya's main foreign interest was nurturing lucrative trade agreements with China which continued from the Tang dynasty to the Song dynasty. Srivijaya had religious, cultural and trade links with the Buddhist Pala Empire of Bengal, as well as with the Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East. The necessity to maintain its trade monopoly had led the empire to launch naval military expeditions against rival ports in Southeast Asia and to absorb them into Srivijaya's sphere of influence. The port of Malayu in Jambi, Kota Kapur in Bangka island, Tarumanagara and the port of Sunda in West Java, Kalingga in Central Java, the port of Kedah and Chaiya in Malay peninsula are among the regional ports that were absorbed within Srivijayan sphere of influence. A series of Javan-Srivijaya raids on the ports of Champa and Cambodia was also part of its effort to maintain its monopoly in the region by sacking its rival ports.35 After the invasion by Rajendra Chola I the king of the Chola Empire from Koromandel, authority of Srivijaya over the islands of Sumatera and the Malay Peninsula weakened. Some time later came a new dynasty that took over the role of Sailendra Dynasty, called by the name of Mauli dynasty. Mauli dynasty of Malay kings that rules Dharmasraya kingdom, centred in Batanghari river system. In later period of the kingdom's capital shifted inland upstream of Batanghari to Dharmasraya and later moved further inland to Pagaruyung.36

Stupas on upper terraces of Borobudur temple in Central Java

Between the 8th and 10th centuries, the agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java, leaving grand religious monuments such as Sailendra's Borobudur and Mataram's Prambanan. The Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in the late 13th century, and under Gajah Mada, its influence stretched over much of Indonesia.37 The founder of the Majapahit, Kertarajasa, was the son-in-law of the ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, also based in Java. After Singhasari drove Srivijaya out of Java in 1290, the rising power of Singhasari came to the attention of Kublai Khan in China and he sent emissaries demanding tribute. Kertanagara, ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, refused to pay tribute and the Khan sent a punitive expedition which arrived off the coast of Java in 1293. By that time, a rebel from Kediri, Jayakatwang, had killed Kertanagara. The Majapahit founder allied himself with the Mongols against Jayakatwang and, once the Singhasari kingdom was destroyed, turned and forced his Mongol allies to withdraw in confusion. After its peak in the 14th century, Majapahit power began to decline and was unable to control the rising power of the Sultanate of Malacca. Dates for the end of the Majapahit kingdom range from 1478 to 1520. A large number of courtiers, artisans, priests, and members of the royal family moved east to the island of Bali at the end of Majapahit power.

Islamic era

Extent of Aceh Sultanate during the reign of Iskandar Muda, 1608–1637

Although Muslim traders first travelled through Southeast Asia early in the Islamic era, the earliest evidence of Islamised populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra.38 The first evidence of Indonesian Muslims comes from Marco Polo, on his way home from China in 1292, reported at least one Muslim town;39 and the first evidence of a Muslim dynasty is the gravestone, dated AH 696 (AD 1297), of Sultan Malik al Saleh, the first Muslim ruler of Samudera Pasai Sultanate, with further gravestones indicating continued Islamic rule. In the first 15th century, Parameswara a descendant of prince from Palembang, was founded the Sultanate of Malacca. As a bustling international trading port, Malacca emerged as a centre for Islamic learning and dissemination, and encouraged the development of the Malay language, literature and arts.4041

By the end of the 16th century, other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam, and it was the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra. The spread of Islam was accompanied by the rise of sultanates in various locations. These were the Sultanate of Ternate in the east to the Sultanate of Aceh to the west as well as many more sultanates in between them. Sultanate of Aceh was founded in the early 16th century and would later become the most powerful North Sumatran state and one of the most powerful in the whole western part of Malay archipelago.42 Demak Sultanate played an important role in the establishment of Islam on Java and neighbouring area. Demak was the main exporter of rice to Malacca.43 And with the rise of Malacca, so did Demak rise into prominence.

The nutmeg plant is native to Indonesia's Banda Islands.

For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences, which shaped the predominant form of Islam in Indonesia, particularly in Java.44 The first regular contact between Europeans and the peoples of Indonesia began in 1512, when Portuguese traders, led by Francisco Serrão, sought to monopolise the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku.45 After the arrival of the Portuguese colonials and the tensions that followed regarding control of the spice trade, the Acehnese Sultan Alauddin al-Kahar (1539–71) sent an embassy to the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1564, requesting Ottoman support against the Portuguese Empire. The Ottomans then dispatched their admiral Kurtoğlu Hızır Reis he set sail with a force of 22 ships carrying soldiers, military equipment and other supplies. According to accounts written by the Portuguese Admiral Fernão Mendes Pinto, the Ottoman fleet that first arrived in Aceh consisted of a few Turks and largely of Muslims from the ports of the Indian Ocean.46 Dutch and British traders followed. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power.

European colonisation

Dutch settlement in the East Indies. Batavia (now Jakarta), Java, c. 1661

Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalised colony.47 After the fall of the Netherlands to the First French Empire and the dissolution of the Dutch East India Company in 1800, there were profound changes in the European colonial administration of the East Indies. In 1806, King Lodewijk of the Netherlands sent one of his generals, Herman Willem Daendels, to serve as governor-general of the East Indies, based in Java. Daendels was sent to strengthen Javanese defences against a predicted British invasion and he was responsible for the construction of the Great Post Road (Indonesian: Jalan Raya Pos) across northern Java from Anjer to Panaroecan.48 In 1811, Java fell to a British East India Company force under Baron Minto, the governor-general of India. Lord Minto appointed Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles as lieutenant governor of Java. Raffles launched some military expeditions against local princes to subjugate them into British rule; such as the assault on Yogyakarta kraton in 21 June 1812, and the military expedition against Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II of Palembang, and seized the nearby Bangka Island. In 1815, the island of Java was returned to control of the Netherlands following the end of Napoleonic Wars, under the terms of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814.

The submission of Prince Diponegoro to General De Kock at the end of the Java War in 1830

In the 1820s, the Dutch had yet to consolidate their possessions in some parts of the Dutch East Indies (later Indonesia) after re-acquiring it from the British. This was especially true on the island of Sumatra, where some areas would not come under Dutch rule until the 20th century. In 1821, Dutch involvement in the Padri War of West Sumatra.49 A Javanese uprising was crushed in the Java War of 1825–1830. After 1830 a system of forced cultivations and indentured labour was introduced on Java, the Cultivation System (in Dutch: cultuurstelsel). In 1870's, the Dutch attacked the Sultanate of Aceh and started the Aceh War. The Dutch intervention in Aceh cost the lives of thousands of troops and was a severe drain on the colonial government's financial expenditure. In 1901 the Dutch adopted what they called the Ethical Policy, which included somewhat increased investment in indigenous education, and modest political reforms.50 It was only in the early 20th century, three centuries after the first Dutch trading post, that the full extent of the colonial territory was established and direct colonial rule exerted across what would become the boundaries of the modern Indonesian state.

Indonesian nationalism and movements supporting independence from Dutch colonialism, such as Budi Utomo, the Indonesian National Party (PNI), Sarekat Islam, and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), grew rapidly in the first half of the 20th century.51 The most notable of these leaders were Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta, Sutan Sjahrir, and Tan Malaka who had benefited from the educational reforms of the Ethical Policy.52 In 1926 thru 1927, there was an Indonesian Communist Party-led revolt against the Dutch colonialism and the harsh repression based on strikes of urban workers.53 However, the strikes and the revolt was put down by the Dutch with some 13,000 nationalists and communists leaders arrested.53 Some 4,500 were given prison sentences, 1,308 interned, and 823 exiled to Digul, West New Guinea.53

World War II and post-independence

For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over the archipelago was tenuous outside of coastal strongholds; only in the early 20th century did Dutch dominance extend to what was to become Indonesia's present boundaries.54 Japanese occupation during the Second World War ended Dutch rule5556 and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement.57 A later UN report stated that four million people died in Indonesia as a result of the Japanese occupation.58 Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno-Hatta, two influential nationalist leader, declared independence and were appointed President and Vice-President.59606162 On 14 November 1945, Sukarno appointed Sutan Sjahrir as first prime minister; he was a European-educated politician who was never involved with the Japanese occupation authorities.63 The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, and the resulting conflict ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognised Indonesian independence6064 with the exception of the Dutch territory of West New Guinea, which was incorporated into Indonesia following the 1962 New York Agreement, and the UN-mandated Act of Free Choice of 196965 which was questionable and has resulted in a longtime independence movement.66

New Order and Reform era

Sukarno, the founding father and first President of Indonesia.

Sukarno moved Indonesia from democracy towards authoritarianism, and maintained his power base by balancing the opposing forces of the military and the Partai Komunis Indonesia (Communist Party of Indonesia).67 An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was countered by the army, who led a violent anti-communist purge, during which the PKI was blamed for the coup and effectively destroyed.686970 Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have been killed.7172 The head of the military, General Suharto, outmaneuvered the politically weakened Sukarno and was formally appointed president in March 1968. His New Order administration73 was supported by the US government,747576 and encouraged foreign direct investment in Indonesia, which was a major factor in the subsequent three decades of substantial economic growth. However, the authoritarian "New Order" was widely accused of corruption and suppression of political opposition.557778

Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the late 1990s Asian financial crisis.79 This led to popular protest against the New Order which led to Suharto's resignation in May 1998.80 In 1999, East Timor voted to secede from Indonesia, after a twenty-five-year military occupation that was marked by international condemnation of repression of the East Timorese.81 Since Suharto's resignation, a strengthening of democratic processes has included a regional autonomy program, and the first direct presidential election in 2004. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won Indonesia's first direct presidential election and in 2009 he was elected to a second term. Political and economic instability, social unrest, corruption, and terrorism slowed progress; however, in the last five years the economy has performed strongly. Although relations among different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, sectarian discontent and violence have persisted.82 A political settlement to an armed separatist conflict in Aceh was achieved in 2005.83 Joko Widodo was elected as President in 2014 Indonesian presidential election.

Government and politics

A session of the People's Representative Council in Jakarta

Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system. As a unitary state, power is concentrated in the central government. Following the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesian political and governmental structures have undergone major reforms. Four amendments to the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia84 have revamped the executive, judicial, and legislative branches.85 The president of Indonesia is the head of state and head of government, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The president appoints a council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature. The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the people directly elected the president and vice-president.86 The president may serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.87

The highest representative body at national level is Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat (People's Consultative Assembly). Its main functions are supporting and amending the constitution, inaugurating the president, and formalising broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the president.88 The MPR comprises two houses; Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (People's Representative Council) or DPR, with 560 members, and Dewan Perwakilan Daerah (Regional Representative Council) or DPD, with 132 members.89 The DPR passes legislation and monitors the executive branch; party-aligned members are elected for five-year terms by proportional representation.85 Reforms since 1998 have markedly increased the DPR's role in national governance.90 The DPD is a new chamber for matters of regional management.91

Most civil disputes appear before Pengadilan Negeri (State Court); appeals are heard before Pengadilan Tinggi (High Court). Mahkamah Agung is the country's highest court, and hears final cessation appeals and conducts case reviews. Other courts include the Commercial Court, which handles bankruptcy and insolvency; Pengadilan Tata Negara (State Administrative Court) to hear administrative law cases against the government; Mahkamah Konstitusi (Constitutional Court) to hear disputes concerning legality of law, general elections, dissolution of political parties, and the scope of authority of state institutions; and Pengadilan Agama (Religious Court) to deal with codified Sharia Law cases.92

Foreign relations and military

Former President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with Barack Obama, the President of United States, in ceremony at the Istana Merdeka in Jakarta, 9 November 2010. Obama has become popular in Indonesia due to the years he spent in Jakarta as a child.93

In contrast to Sukarno's anti-imperialistic antipathy to Western powers and tensions with Malaysia, Indonesia's foreign relations since the Suharto New Order have been based on economic and political co-operation with Western nations.94 Indonesia maintains close relationships with its neighbours in Asia, and is a founding member of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit.89 The nation restored relations with the People's Republic of China in 1990 following a freeze in place since anti-communist purges early in the Suharto era.92 Indonesia has been a member of the United Nations since 1950,95 and was a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation).89 Indonesia is signatory to the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement, the Cairns Group, and the WTO, and has historically been a member of OPEC, although it withdrew in 2008 as it was no longer a net exporter of oil. Indonesia has received humanitarian and development aid since 1966, in particular from the United States, western Europe, Australia, and Japan.89

The Indonesian government has worked with other countries to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of major bombings linked to militant Islamism and Al-Qaeda.96 The deadliest bombing killed 202 people (including 164 international tourists) in the Bali resort town of Kuta in 2002.97 The attacks, and subsequent travel warnings issued by other countries, severely damaged Indonesia's tourism industry and foreign investment prospects.98

Indonesian Naval vessels

Indonesia's armed forces (TNI) include the army (TNI–AD), navy (TNI–AL, which includes marines), and air force (TNI–AU).99 The army has about 400,000 active-duty personnel. Defense spending in the national budget was 4% of GDP in 2006, and is controversially supplemented by revenue from military commercial interests and foundations.100 One of the reforms following the 1998 resignation of Suharto was the removal of formal TNI representation in parliament; nevertheless, its political influence remains extensive.101

Separatist movements in the provinces of Aceh and Papua have led to armed conflict, and subsequent allegations of human rights abuses and brutality from all sides.102103 Following a sporadic thirty-year guerrilla war between the Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM) and the Indonesian military, a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2005.104 In Papua, there has been a significant, albeit imperfect, implementation of regional autonomy laws, and a reported decline in the levels of violence and human rights abuses, since the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.105

Administrative divisions

Monas as a landmark of capital of Indonesia, Jakarta

Administratively, Indonesia consists of 34 provinces, five of which have special status. Each province has its own legislature and governor. The provinces are subdivided into regencies (kabupaten) and cities (kota), which are further subdivided into districts (kecamatan or distrik in Papua and West Papua), and again into administrative villages (either desa, kelurahan, kampung, nagari in West Sumatra, or gampong in Aceh). Village is the lowest level of government administration in Indonesia. Furthermore, a village is divided into several community groups (rukun warga (RW)) which are further divided into neighbourhood groups (rukun tetangga (RT)). In Java the desa (village) is divided further into smaller units called dusun or dukuh (hamlets), these units are the same as rukun warga. Following the implementation of regional autonomy measures in 2001, the regencies and cities have become the key administrative units, responsible for providing most government services. The village administration level is the most influential on a citizen's daily life and handles matters of a village or neighbourhood through an elected lurah or kepala desa (village chief).

The provinces of Aceh, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Papua, and West Papua have greater legislative privileges and a higher degree of autonomy from the central government than the other provinces. The Acehnese government, for example, has the right to create certain elements of an independent legal system; in 2003, it instituted a form of Sharia Law (Islamic law).106 Yogyakarta was granted the status of Special Region in recognition of its pivotal role in supporting Indonesian Republicans during the Indonesian Revolution and its willingness to join Indonesia as a republic.107 Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, was granted special autonomy status in 2001 and was split into Papua and West Papua in February 2003.108109 Jakarta is the country's special capital region.

Indonesian provinces and their capitals, listed by region

Indonesian name is in parentheses if different from English.
* indicates provinces with special status


Mount Semeru and Mount Bromo in East Java.

Indonesia lies between latitudes 11°S and 6°N, and longitudes 95°E and 141°E. It consists of 17,508 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited.110 These are scattered over both sides of the equator. The largest are Java, Sumatra, Borneo (shared with Brunei and Malaysia), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea), and Sulawesi. Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia on Borneo, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea, and East Timor on the island of Timor. Indonesia shares maritime borders across narrow straits with Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Palau to the north, and with Australia to the south. The capital, Jakarta, is on Java and is the nation's largest city, followed by Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, and Semarang.111

At 1,919,440 square kilometres (741,050 sq mi), Indonesia is the world's 15th-largest country in terms of land area and world's 7th-largest country in terms of combined sea and land area.112 Its average population density is 134 people per square kilometre (347 per sq mi), 79th in the world,113 although Java, the world's most populous island,114 has a population density of 940 people per square kilometre (2,435 per sq mi). At 4,884 metres (16,024 ft), Puncak Jaya in Papua is Indonesia's highest peak, and Lake Toba in Sumatra its largest lake, with an area of 1,145 square kilometres (442 sq mi). The country's largest rivers are in Kalimantan, and include the Mahakam and Barito; such rivers are communication and transport links between the island's river settlements.115

Paddy fields in Bali

Indonesia's location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Indonesia has at least 150 active volcanoes,116 including Krakatoa and Tambora, both famous for their devastating eruptions in the 19th century. The eruption of the Toba supervolcano, approximately 70,000 years ago, was one of the largest eruptions ever, and a global catastrophe. Recent disasters due to seismic activity include the 2004 tsunami that killed an estimated 167,736 in northern Sumatra,117 and the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006. However, volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high agricultural fertility that has historically sustained the high population densities of Java and Bali.118

Lying along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with two distinct monsoonal wet and dry seasons. Average annual rainfall in the lowlands varies from 1,780–3,175 millimetres (70.1–125.0 inches), and up to 6,100 millimetres (240 inches) in mountainous regions. Mountainous areas – particularly in the west coast of Sumatra, West Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua – receive the highest rainfall. Humidity is generally high, averaging about 80%. Temperatures vary little throughout the year; the average daily temperature range of Jakarta is 26–30 °C (79–86 °F).119


The critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, a great ape endemic to Indonesia.

Indonesia's size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world's second highest level of biodiversity after Brazil.120 Its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasian species.121 The islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Bali) were once linked to the Asian mainland, and have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, elephant, and leopard, were once abundant as far east as Bali, but numbers and distribution have dwindled drastically. Forests cover approximately 60% of the country.122 In Sumatra and Kalimantan, these are predominantly of Asian species. However, the forests of the smaller, and more densely populated Java, have largely been removed for human habitation and agriculture. Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku – having been long separated from the continental landmasses—have developed their own unique flora and fauna.123 Papua was part of the Australian landmass, and is home to a unique fauna and flora closely related to that of Australia, including over 600 bird species.124

Indonesian dragon, the largest lizard in the world

Indonesia is second only to Australia in terms of total endemic species, with 36% of its 1,531 species of bird and 39% of its 515 species of mammal being endemic.125 Indonesia's 80,000 kilometres (50,000 miles) of coastline are surrounded by tropical seas that contribute to the country's high level of biodiversity. Indonesia has a range of sea and coastal ecosystems, including beaches, sand dunes, estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, coastal mudflats, tidal flats, algal beds, and small island ecosystems.13 Indonesia is one of Coral Triangle countries with the world's greatest diversity of coral reef fish with more than 1,650 species in eastern Indonesia only.126 The British naturalist, Alfred Wallace, described a dividing line between the distribution of Indonesia's Asian and Australasian species.127 Known as the Wallace Line, it runs roughly north–south along the edge of the Sunda Shelf, between Kalimantan and Sulawesi, and along the deep Lombok Strait, between Lombok and Bali. West of the line the flora and fauna are more Asian; moving east from Lombok, they are increasingly Australian. In his 1869 book, The Malay Archipelago, Wallace described numerous species unique to the area.128 The region of islands between his line and New Guinea is now termed Wallacea.127


Fires on Borneo and Sumatra, 2015. People use slash-and-burn deforestation to clear land for agriculture.

Indonesia's high population and rapid industrialisation present serious environmental issues, which are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels and weak, under-resourced governance.129 Issues include large-scale deforestation (much of it illegal) and related wildfires causing heavy smog over parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; over-exploitation of marine resources; and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanisation and economic development, including air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management, and reliable water and waste water services.129 Deforestation and the destruction of peatlands make Indonesia the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.130 Habitat destruction threatens the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as threatened, and 15 identified as critically endangered, including the Bali starling,131 Sumatran orangutan,132 and Javan rhinoceros.133 Much of Indonesia's deforestation is caused by forest clearing for the palm oil industry, which has cleared 18 million hectares of forest for palm oil expansion. Palm oil expansion requires land reallocation as well as changes to the local and natural ecosystems. Palm oil expansion can generate wealth for local communities, but it can also degrade ecosystems and cause social problems.134


Main article: Economy of Indonesia
Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia and the country's largest commercial centre.

Indonesia has a mixed economy in which both the private sector and government play significant roles.135 The country is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and a member of the G-20 major economies.136 Indonesia's estimated gross domestic product (nominal), as of 2014, was US$887 billion. Nominal per capita GDP was US$3,518.137 As of 2012, per capita GDP PPP was US$4,943 (international dollars).138 The gross domestic product (GDP) is about $1 trillion4 and the debt ratio to the GDP is 26%.139 According to World Bank affiliated report based on 2011 data, the Indonesian economy was the world's 10th largest by nominal GDP (PPP based), with the country contributing 2.3 percent of global economic output.140141 The industry sector is the economy's largest and accounts for 46.4% of GDP (2012), this is followed by services (38.6%) and agriculture (14.4%). However, since 2012, the service sector has employed more people than other sectors, accounting for 48.9% of the total labour force, this has been followed by agriculture (38.6%) and industry (22.2%).142 Agriculture, however, had been the country's largest employer for centuries.143144

According to World Trade Organisation data, Indonesia was the 27th biggest exporting country in the world in 2010, moving up three places from a year before.145 Indonesia's main export markets (2009) are Japan (17.28%), Singapore (11.29%), the United States (10.81%), and China (7.62%). The major suppliers of imports to Indonesia are Singapore (24.96%), China (12.52%), and Japan (8.92%). In 2014, Indonesia ran a trade deficit with export revenues of US$176 billion and import expenditure of US$178.2 billion.146 The country has extensive natural resources, including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper, and gold. Indonesia's major imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs, and the country's major export commodities include oil and gas, electrical appliances, plywood, rubber, and textiles.110 In an attempt to boost the domestic mineral processing industry and encourage exports of higher value-added mineral products, the Indonesian government implemented a ban on exports of unprocessed mineral ores in 2014.146 Palm oil production is important to the economy of Indonesia as the country is the world's biggest producer and consumer of the commodity, providing about half the world supply.147 Oil palm plantations stretch across 6 million hectares (roughly twice the size of Belgium). The country plans by 2015 to add 4 million additional hectares towards oil palm biofuel production.148 As of 2012, Indonesia produces 35 percent of the world's certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).149

Indomie, one of Indonesia's global brand. Indonesia is the world's second largest producer and consumer of instant noodle after China.

The tourism sector contributes to around US$10.1 billion of foreign exchange in 2013, and ranked as the 4th largest among goods and services export sectors.150 Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, China and Japan are the top five source of visitors to Indonesia.

In the 1960s the economy deteriorated drastically as a result of political instability, a young and inexperienced government, and economic nationalism, which resulted in severe poverty and hunger. By the time of Sukarno's downfall in the mid-1960s, the economy was in chaos with 1,000% annual inflation, shrinking export revenues, crumbling infrastructure, factories operating at minimal capacity, and negligible investment. Following President Sukarno's downfall in the mid-1960s, the New Order administration brought a degree of discipline to economic policy that quickly brought inflation down, stabilised the currency, rescheduled foreign debt, and attracted foreign aid and investment. (See Berkeley Mafia). Indonesia was until recently Southeast Asia's only member of OPEC, and the 1970s oil price raises provided an export revenue windfall that contributed to sustained high economic growth rates, averaging over 7% from 1968 to 1981.151 Following further reforms in the late 1980s,152 foreign investment flowed into Indonesia, particularly into the rapidly developing export-oriented manufacturing sector, and from 1989 to 1997, the Indonesian economy grew by an average of over 7%.153154

Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98. During the crisis there were sudden and large capital outflows leading the rupiah to go into free fall. Against the US dollar the rupiah dropped from about Rp 2,600 in late 1997 to a low point of around Rp 17,000 some months later and the economy shrank by a remarkable 13.7%. These developments led to widespread economic distress across the economy and contributed to the political crisis of 1998 which saw Suharto resign as president.155 The rupiah later stabilised in the Rp. 8,000 range156 and economic growth returned to 4% per year by 2000.157 However, the currency still fluctuates, dropping below Rp 11,000 per dollar in September 2013. In addition, corruption has been a persistent problem. Transparency International, for example, has since ranked Indonesia below 100 in its Corruption Perceptions Index.158159 Since 2007, however, with the improvement in banking sector and domestic consumption, national economic growth has accelerated to over 6% annually160161162 and this helped the country weather the 2008–2009 global recession.163 The Indonesian economy performed strongly during the Global Financial Crisis and in 2012 its GDP grew by over 6%.164 The country regained its investment grade rating in late 2011 after losing it in 1997.165 However, as of 2014, 11% of the population lived below the poverty line and the official open unemployment rate was 5.9%.166

Indonesia has a sizeable automotive industry, which produced almost 1.3 million motor vehicles in 2014, ranking as the 15th largest producer in the world.167 Nowadays Indonesian automotive companies are able to produce cars with high ratio of local content (80% - 90%).168 With production peaking at 14.5 billion packs in 2011, Indonesia is the second largest producer of instant noodle after China which produces 42.5 billion packs a year.169 Indofood is the largest instant noodle producer in the world. Indomie brand by Indofood is one of the Indonesia's best known global brand.170

Of the world's 500 largest companies measured by revenue in 2014, the Fortune Global 500, two are headquartered in Indonesia i.e. Pertamina and Perusahaan Listrik Negara.171


Pelni Shipping Routes 2006

Road transport is predominant, with a total system length of 437,759 km in 2008. Many cities and towns have some form of transportation for hire available as well such as taxis. There are usually also bus services of various kinds such as the Kopaja buses and the more sophisticated Transjakarta bus rapid transit system in Jakarta. The Transjakarta is the largest bus rapid transit system in the world, boasts some 194 km and carriers more than 300,000 passengers daily.172 In addition, BRT systems exist in Jogjakarta, Palembang, Bandung, Denpasar, Pekanbaru, Semarang, Makassar, and Padang without segregated lane. Many cities also have motorised autorickshaws (bajaj) of various kinds. Cycle rickshaws, called becak in Indonesia, are a regular sight on city roads and provide inexpensive transportation.

The railway system has four unconnected networks in Java and Sumatra primarily dedicated to transport bulk commodities and long-distance passenger traffic. The inter-city rail network on Java is complemented by local commuter rail services in the Jakarta metropolitan area (KRL Jabotabek), Surabaya, Medan, and Bandung. In Jakarta, suburban rail services carry 550,000 passengers a day.173 In addition, mass rapid transit and light rail transit systems are under construction in Jakarta.

Argo Bromo Anggrek, inter-city train serve Jakarta to Surabaya route

Sea transport is extremely important for economic integration and for domestic and foreign trade. It is well developed, with each of the major islands having at least one significant port city. Because Indonesia encompasses a sprawling archipelago, maritime shipping provides essential links between different parts of the country. Boats in common use include large container ships, a variety of ferries, passenger ships, sailing ships, and smaller motorised vessels. Traditional wooden vessel pinisi still widely used as the inter-island freight service within Indonesian archipelago. Port of Tanjung Priok is Indonesia's busiest port, and the 21st busiest port in the world in 2013, handling over 6.59 million TEUs.174 To boost the port capacity, two-phase "New Tanjung Priok" extension project is currently ongoing. When fully operational in 2023, it will triple existing annual capacity.

Frequent ferry services cross the straits between nearby islands, especially in the chain of islands stretching from Sumatra through Java to the Lesser Sunda Islands. On the busy crossings between Sumatra, Java, and Bali, multiple car ferries run frequently twenty-four hours per day. There are also international ferry services between across the Straits of Malacca between Sumatra and Malaysia, and between Singapore and nearby Indonesian islands, such as Batam. A network of passenger ships makes longer connections to more remote islands, especially in the eastern part of the archipelago. The national shipping line, Pelni, provides passenger service to ports throughout the country on a two to four week schedule. These ships generally provide the least expensive way to cover long distances between islands. Still smaller privately run boats provide service between islands.

As of 2014, there were 237 airports in Indonesia,175 including 17 international airports. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is the 12nd busiest airport in the world, serving 57,005,406 passengers, according to Airports Council International.176 Today the airport is running over capacity. After T3 Soekarno-Hatta Airport expansion will be finished in May 2016, the total capacity of three terminals become 43 million passengers a year. T1 and T2 also will be revitalised, so all the three terminals finally will accommodate 67 million passengers a year.177 When finished, Soekarno-Hatta airport will be an aerotropolis.178 Juanda Airport in Surabaya and Ngurah Rai in Bali are the country's 2nd and 3rd busiest airport.179 Garuda Indonesia, flag carrier of Indonesia since 1949, was selected by Skytrax as "The World's Best Economy Class" in 2013. In December 2014, Garuda Indonesia was awarded as a "5-Star Airline" by Skytrax180 as well as in June 2015, it was awarded with "The World's Best Cabin Crew".181

Science and technology

A pinisi ship

Living in an agrarian and maritime culture the people in Indonesian's archipelago have been famous in some traditional technologies, particularly in agriculture and marine. In agriculture, for instance, the people in Indonesia, and also in many other Southeast Asian countries, are famous in paddy cultivation technique namely terasering. Bugis and Makassar people in Indonesia are also well-known with their technology in making wooden sailing vessel called pinisi boat.182

In aerospace technology, Indonesia has a long history in developing military and small commuter aircraft as the only country in Southeast Asia to produce and develop its own aircraft, also producing aircraft components for Boeing and Airbus, with its state-owned aircraft company (founded in 1976), the Indonesian Aerospace (Indonesian: PT. Dirgantara Indonesia), which, with EADS CASA of Spain developed the CN-235 aircraft, which has been exported to many countries. Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, a former Indonesian president played an important role in this achievement. While active as a professor in Germany, Habibie conducted many research assignments, producing theories on thermodynamics, construction, and aerodynamics, known as the Habibie Factor, Habibie Theorem, and Habibie Method respectively.183 Indonesia also hopes to manufacture the South Korea KAI KF-X fighter.184

Furthermore, Indonesia has a well established railway industry, with its state-owned train manufacturer company, the Indonesian Railway Industry (Indonesian: PT. Industri Kereta Api), located in Madiun, East Java. Since 1982, the company has been producing passenger train wagons, freight wagons and other railway technologies and exported to many countries, such as Malaysia and Bangladesh.185 In 1980's an Indonesian engineer, Tjokorda Raka Sukawati invented a road construction technique named Sosrobahu which becomes famous afterwards and widely used by many countries. The technology has been exported to the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore and in 1995, a patent was granted to Indonesia.186


According to the 2010 national census, the population of Indonesia is 237.6 million,187 with high population growth at 1.9%.188 58% of the population lives in Java,187 the world's most populous island.114 In 1961 the first post-colonial census gave a total population of 97 million.189 Indonesia's population is expected to grow to around 269 million by 2020 and 321 million by 2050.190 An additional 8 million Indonesian live overseas, comprising one of the world's largest diasporas. Most of them settled in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Netherlands, United States, and Australia.191


The map of major ethnic groups in Indonesia.

There are around 300 distinct native ethnic groups in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects.192193 Most Indonesians are descended from Austronesian-speaking peoples whose languages can be traced to Proto-Austronesian, which possibly originated in Taiwan. Another major grouping are Melanesians, who inhabit eastern Indonesia.25111194 The largest ethnic group is the Javanese, who comprise 42% of the population, and are politically and culturally dominant.195 The Sundanese, ethnic Malays, and Madurese are the largest non-Javanese groups.196 A sense of Indonesian nationhood exists alongside strong regional identities.197 Social, religious and ethnic tensions have triggered horrendous violence.198199200 Chinese Indonesians are an influential ethnic minority comprising 3–4% of the population.201 Much of the country's privately owned commerce and wealth is Chinese-Indonesian-controlled.202203 Chinese businesses in Indonesia are part of the larger bamboo network, a network of overseas Chinese businesses operating in the markets of Southeast Asia that share common family and cultural ties.204 This has contributed to considerable resentment, and even anti-Chinese violence.205206207


Religion in Indonesia208
Religion Percent(%)

While religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution,209 the government officially recognises only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.7 Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, at 87.2% in 2010, with the majority being Sunni (99%).210211212 The Shias and Ahmadis respectively constitute 0.5% and 0.2% of the Muslim population.213

Religious map of Indonesia

In 2010, Christians made up almost 10% of the population (among them 7% were Protestant, 2.9% Roman Catholic), 1.7% were Hindu, and 0.9% were Buddhist or other. Most Indonesian Hindus are Balinese,214 and most Buddhists in modern-day Indonesia are ethnic Chinese.215 Though now minority religions, Hinduism and Buddhism remain defining influences in Indonesian culture. Islam was first adopted by Indonesians in northern Sumatra in the 13th century, through the influence of traders, and became the country's dominant religion by the 16th century.216 Roman Catholicism was brought to Indonesia by early Portuguese colonialists and missionaries,217218 and the Protestant denominations are largely a result of Dutch Reformed and Lutheran missionary efforts during the country's colonial period.219220221 A large proportion of Indonesians—such as the Javanese abangan, Balinese Hindus, and Dayak Christians—practice a less orthodox, syncretic form of their religion, which draws on local customs and beliefs.222

Largest cities or towns in Indonesia
Statistics Indonesia (2010)223
Rank Name Province Pop. Rank Name Province Pop.
1 Jakarta Jakarta 9,588,198 11 South Tangerang Banten 1,290,322 Bandung
2 Surabaya East Java 2,765,487 12 Bogor West Java 950,334
3 Bandung West Java 2,394,873 13 Batam Riau Islands 944,285
4 Bekasi West Java 2,334,871 14 Pekanbaru Riau 897,767
5 Medan North Sumatra 2,097,610 15 Bandar Lampung Lampung 881,801
6 Tangerang Banten 1,798,601 16 Padang West Sumatra 833,562
7 Depok West Java 1,738,570 17 Malang East Java 820,243
8 Semarang Central Java 1,555,984 18 Denpasar Bali 788,589
9 Palembang South Sumatra 1,455,284 19 Samarinda East Kalimantan 727,500
10 Makassar South Sulawesi 1,338,663 20 Tasikmalaya West Java 635,464


University of Indonesia library, the largest library in Southeast Asia

Education in Indonesia is compulsory for twelve years.224225 Parents can choose between state-run, non sectarian public schools supervised by Depdiknas (Department of National Education) or private or semi-private religious (usually Islamic) schools supervised and financed by the Department of Religious Affairs.226 The enrolment rate is 94% for primary education (2011), 75% for secondary education, and 27% for tertiary education. The literacy rate is 93% (2011).227

By 2014, there were 118 state universities in Indonesia. Entry to higher education depends on the nationwide entrance examination (SNMPTN and SBMPTN). According to the 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the top university in Indonesia is University of Indonesia (rank 310, dropped from 201 in 2009), followed by Bandung Institute of Technology (in the 431-460 rank range) and Gadjah Mada University (in the 551–600 rank range). Five other Indonesian universities, including Airlangga University, Bogor Institute of Agriculture, Diponegoro University, Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology and Brawijaya University all huddled in the 701+ range.228 All of educational institutions located in Java. Andalas University is pioneering the establishment of a leading university outside of Java.229


More than 700 local languages are spoken in thousands islands of Indonesia.230 Most belong to the Austronesian language family, with a few Papuan languages also spoken. The official language is Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language), a variant of Malay,231 which was used in the archipelago, — borrowing heavily from local languages of Indonesia such as Javanese, Sundanese, Minangkabau, etc. The Indonesian language is primarily used in commerce, administration, education and the media, but most Indonesians speak other languages, such as Javanese, as their first language.230

Indonesian language is based on the prestige dialect of Malay, that of the Johor-Riau Sultanate, which for centuries had been the lingua franca of the archipelago, standards of which are the official languages in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. Indonesian is universally taught in schools, consequently it is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It is the language of business, politics, national media, education, and academia. It was promoted by Indonesian nationalists in the 1920s, and declared the official language under the name Bahasa Indonesia on the proclamation of independence in 1945. Most Indonesians speak at least one of the several hundred local languages and dialects, often as their first language. Of these, Javanese is the most widely spoken as the language of the largest ethnic group.110 On the other hand, Papua has over 270 indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages,232 in a region of about 2.7 million people.


Main article: Sport in Indonesia
Pencak silat, an Indonesian martial art.

Sports in Indonesia are generally male-oriented and spectator sports are often associated with illegal gambling.233 The most popular sports are badminton and football. Indonesian players have won the Thomas Cup (the world team championship of men's badminton) thirteen of the twenty-six times that it has been held since 1949, as well as numerous Olympic medals since the sport gained full Olympic status in 1992. Its women have won the Uber Cup, the female equivalent of the Thomas Cup, 3 times, in 1975, 1994 and 1996. Liga Indonesia is the country's premier football club league. On the international stage, Indonesia experienced limited success despite being the first Asian team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 1938 as Dutch East Indies.234 In 1956, the football team played in the Olympics and played a hard-fought draw against USSR. On the continent level, Indonesia won the bronze medal once in football in the 1958 Asian Games. Indonesia's first appearance in Asian Cup was back in 1996. The Indonesian national team has always qualified for the Asian Cup in 2000, 2004 and 2007 AFC Asian Cup, however unable to move through next stage.

SEA Games 2011 opening ceremony in Palembang.

Boxing is a popular combative sport spectacle in Indonesia. Some of famous Indonesian boxers are Ellyas Pical, three times IBF Super flyweight champion; Nico Thomas, Muhammad Rachman, and Chris John.235 Traditional sports include sepak takraw, and bull racing in Madura. In areas with a history of tribal warfare, mock fighting contests are held, such as caci in Flores and pasola in Sumba. Pencak Silat is an Indonesian martial art and become one of sporting event in Southeast Asian Games with Indonesia as appear as one of the leading force in this sport. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia is one of the major sport powerhouses in the region by winning the Southeast Asian Games 10 times since 1977.


Raja Ampat, one of the world's richest marine biodiversity

Both nature and culture are major components of Indonesian tourism. The natural heritage can boast a unique combination of a tropical climate. These natural attractions are complemented by a rich cultural heritage that reflects Indonesia's dynamic history and ethnic diversity, that 719 living languages are used across the archipelago. The ancient Prambanan and Borobudur temples, Toraja and Bali, with its Hindu festivities, are some of the popular destinations for cultural tourism.

Indonesia has a well-preserved natural ecosystem with rainforests that stretch over about 57% of Indonesia's land (225 million acres), approximately 2% of which are mangrove systems. Forests on Sumatra and Kalimantan are examples of popular tourist destinations. Moreover, Indonesia has one of longest coastlines in the world, measuring 54,716 kilometres (33,999 mi).

Kelimutu lakes, the crater-lakes with three different colours in Ende, Flores island.

With 20% of the world's coral reefs, over 3,000 different species of fish and 600 coral species, deep water trenches, volcanic sea mounts, World War II wrecks, and an endless variety of macro life, scuba diving in Indonesia is both excellent and inexpensive.236 Bunaken National Marine Park, at the northern tip of Sulawesi, claims to have seven times more genera of coral than Hawaii,237 and has more than 70% of all the known fish species of the Indo-Western Pacific.238 According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth.239 Moreover, there are over 3,500 species living in Indonesian waters, including sharks, dolphins, manta rays, turtles, morays, cuttlefish, octopus and scorpionfish, compared to 1,500 on the Great Barrier Reef.

Indonesia has 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Komodo National Park, Ujung Kulon National Park, Lorentz National Park, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, comprises three national parks on the island of Sumatra: Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park;240 and 18 World Heritage Sites in tentative list, such as the historic urban centres of Jakarta Old Town, Sawahlunto Old Coal Mining Town, Semarang Old Town, as well as Muara Takus Compound Site.

Former Batavia Stadhuis now Jakarta History Museum in Jakarta Old Town

The heritage tourism is focussed on specific interest on Indonesian history, such as colonial architectural heritage of Dutch East Indies era. The colonial heritage tourism mostly attracted visitors from the Netherlands that share historical ties with Indonesia, as well as Indonesian or foreign colonial history enthusiast. The activities among others are visiting museums, churches, forts and historical colonial buildings, as well as spend some nights in colonial heritage hotels. The popular heritage tourism attractions are Jakarta Old Town and Sawahlunto Old Coal Mining Town. The heritage tourism might also focussed on the era of 17th-to 19th-century royal Javanese courts of Yogyakarta Sultanate, Surakarta Sunanate and Mangkunegaran.

Urban tourism activities includes shopping, sightseeing in big cities, or enjoying modern amusement parks, resorts, spas, nightlife and entertainment. Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park as well as Ancol Dreamland with Dunia Fantasi (Fantasy World) theme park and Atlantis Water Adventure are Jakarta's answer to Disneyland-style amusement park and water park. Several similar theme parks also developed in other cities, such as Trans Studio Makassar and Trans Studio Bandung. The nation's capital, Jakarta, is a shopping hub in the nation and also one of the best places to shop in South East Asia. The city has numerous shopping malls and traditional markets. With a total of 550 hectares, Jakarta has the world's largest shopping mall floor area within a single city.241 The annual "Jakarta Great Sale" is held every year in June and July to celebrate Jakarta's anniversary, with about 73 participating shopping centres in 2012.242 Bandung is a popular shopping destination for fashion products among Malaysians and Singaporeans.243

Wonderful Indonesia has been the slogan since January 2011 of an international marketing campaign directed by the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism to promote tourism.244 In year 2014, 9.4 million international visitors entered Indonesia,245 staying in hotels for an average of 7.5 nights and spending an average of US$1,142 per person during their visit, or US$152.22 per person per day.246


Main article: Culture of Indonesia
Wayang kulit performance

Indonesia has about 300 ethnic groups, each with cultural identities developed over centuries, and influenced by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, and European sources. Traditional Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, contain aspects of Hindu culture and mythology, as do wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performances. Textiles such as batik, ikat, ulos and songket are created across Indonesia in styles that vary by region. The Indonesian film industry's popularity peaked in the 1980s and dominated cinemas in Indonesia,247 although it declined significantly in the early 1990s.248 Between 2000 and 2005, the number of Indonesian films released each year has steadily increased.247 Indonesia holds 6 items UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage.


Pagaruyung Palace

Architecture reflects the diversity of cultural that have shaped Indonesia as a whole. Invaders, colonisers, missionaries, merchants and traders brought cultural changes that had a profound effect on building styles and techniques. The most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture have traditionally been Indian; however, Chinese, Arab, and European architectural influences have been significant. The Indonesia traditional houses are at the centre of a web of customs, social relations, traditional laws, taboos, myths and religions that bind the villagers together. The house provides the main focus for the family and its community, and is the point of departure for many activities of its residents.

Example of Indonesian vernacular architecture including Toraja's Tongkonan, Minangkabau's Rumah Gadang and Rangkiang, Javanese style Pendopo pavilion with Joglo style roof, Dayak's Long houses, various Malay houses, Balinese houses and temples, and also various styles of lumbung (rice barns).


Main article: Music of Indonesia

The music in Indonesia predates historical records, various native Indonesian tribes often incorporate chants and songs accompanied with musics instruments in their rituals. The Indonesian traditional instruments includes angklung, kecapi suling, siteran, gong, gamelan, degung, gong kebyar, bumbung, talempong, kolintang and sasando.

The diverse world of Indonesian music genres was the result of the musical creativity of its people, and also the subsequent cultural encounters with foreign musical influences into the archipelago. Next to distinctive native form of musics, several genres can traces its origin to foreign influences; such as gambus and qasidah from Middle Eastern Islamic music,249 keroncong from Portuguese influences,250 and dangdut with notable Hindi music influence as well as Malay orchestras.251 One of the most popular music genres in Indonesia is Dangdut.

Today Indonesian music industry enjoys nationwide popularity. Thanks to common culture and intelligible languages between Indonesian and Malay, Indonesian music enjoyed regional popularity in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. However the overwhelming popularity of Indonesian music in Malaysia had alarmed the Malaysian music industry. In 2008 Malaysian music industry demanded the restriction of Indonesian songs on Malaysian radio broadcasts.252


Main article: Dance in Indonesia

Traditional dance of Indonesia reflect the rich diversity of Indonesian people. The dance traditions in Indonesia; such as Javanese, Sundanese, Minangkabau, Balinese, Malays, Acehnese and many other dances traditions are age old traditions, yet also a living and dynamic traditions. Several royal houses; the istanas and keratons still survived in some parts of Indonesia and become the haven of cultural conservation. The obvious difference between courtly dance and common folk dance traditions is the most evident in Javanese dance. The palace court traditions also evident in Balinese and Malay court which usually imposed refinement and prestige. Sumatran courtly culture such as the remnant of Aceh Sultanate and Palembang Sultanate, are more influenced by Islamic culture, while Java and Bali are more deeply rooted in their Hindu-Buddhist heritage.

Dances in Indonesia are believed by many scholars to have had their beginning in rituals and religious worship.253 Such dances are usually based on rituals, like the war dances, the dance of witch doctors, and dance to call for rain or any agricultural related rituals such as Hudoq dance ritual of Dayak people. In Bali, dances has become the integral part of Hindu Balinese rituals. Sacred ritual dances performed only in Balinese temples such as sacred Sanghyang dedari and Barong dance.

The commoners folk dance is more concerned with social function and entertainment value than rituals. The Javanese Ronggeng and Sundanese Jaipongan is the fine example of this common folk dance traditions. Both are social dances that are more for entertainment purpose than rituals. Randai is a folk theatre tradition of the Minangkabau people which incorporates dance, music, singing, drama and the martial art of silat.254 Certain traditional folk dances has been developed into mass dance with simple but structurised steps and movements, such as Poco-poco dance from Minahasa and Sajojo dance from Papua.

Kecak dance
Kecak dance
Kabasaran dance
Kabasaran dance
Saman dance
Saman dance


Main article: Cinema of Indonesia
Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?, an Indonesian teenage romance film.

The first domestically produced film in the Indies was in 1926: Loetoeng Kasaroeng, a silent film by Dutch director L. Heuveldorp. This adaptation of the Sundanese legend was made with local actors by the NV Java Film Company in Bandung.

After independence, the film industry expanded rapidly, with six films made in 1949 rising to 58 in 1955. Djamaluddin Malik's Persari often emulating United States genre films and the working practices of the Hollywood studio system, as well as remaking popular Indian films.255 The Sukarno government used cinema for nationalistic, anti-Western purposes. Foreign film imports were banned. After the overthrow of Sukarno by Suharto's New Order regime, films were regulated through a censorship code that aimed to maintain the social order.256 Usmar Ismail, a director from West Sumatra made a major imprint in Indonesian film in the 1950s and 1960s.257

The industry reached its peak in the 1980s, with such successful films as Naga Bonar (1987) and Catatan Si Boy (1989). Warkop's comedy films, directed by Arizal also proved to be successful. The industry has also found appeal among teens with such fare as Pintar-pintar Bodoh (1982), and Maju Kena Mundur Kena (1984). Actors during this era included Deddy Mizwar, Eva Arnaz, Meriam Bellina, and Rano Karno.258

Under the Reformasi movement of the post-Suharto era, independent filmmaking was a rebirth of the filming industry in Indonesia, where film's started addressing topics which were previously banned such as; religion, race, love and other topics.256 Riri Riza and Mira Lesmana were the new generation of Indonesian film figures who co-directed of Kuldesak (1999), Petualangan Sherina (2000), Ada Apa dengan Cinta? (2002), Gie (2005), and Laskar Pelangi (2008).259 Locally made film quality has gone up in 2012, this is attested by the international release of films such as The Raid: Redemption, Modus Anomali, Dilema, Lovely Man, and Java Heat.


Main article: Indonesian literature
Chairil Anwar, one of the greatest literary figure of Indonesia.

The oldest evidence of writing in Indonesia is a series of Sanskrit inscriptions dated to the 5th century. Many of Indonesia's peoples have strongly rooted oral traditions, which help to define and preserve their cultural identities.260 In written poetry and prose, a number of traditional forms dominate, mainly syair, pantun, gurindam, hikayat and babad. Some of these works are Syair Raja Siak, Syair Abdul Muluk, Hikayat Abdullah, Hikayat Bayan Budiman, Hikayat Hang Tuah, Sulalatus Salatin, and Babad Tanah Jawi.261

Early modern Indonesian literature originates in Sumatran tradition.262 Balai Pustaka, the government bureau for popular literature, was instituted around 1920 to promote the development of indigenous literature, it adopted Malay as the preferred common medium for Indonesia. Important figures in modern Indonesian literature include: Dutch author Multatuli, who criticised treatment of the Indonesians under Dutch colonial rule; Sumatrans Muhammad Yamin and Hamka, who were influential pre-independence nationalist writers and politicians;263 and proletarian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesia's most famous novelist.264265 Pramoedya earned several accolades, and was frequently discussed as Indonesia's and Southeast Asia's best candidate for a Nobel Prize in Literature.266

Indonesian literature and poetry flourished even more in the first half of 20th century. Chairil Anwar was considered as the greatest literary figure of Indonesia by American poet and translator, Burton Raffel.267 He was among those youngsters who pioneered in changing the traditional Indonesian literature and modifying it on the lines of the newly independent nation. Some of his popular poems include Krawang-Bekasi, Diponegoro and Aku. Other major authors include Marah Rusli (Sitti Nurbaya), Merari Siregar (Azab dan Sengsara), Abdul Muis (Salah Asuhan), Djamaluddin Adinegoro (Darah Muda), Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana (Layar Terkembang), and Amir Hamzah (Nyanyi Sunyi) whose works are among the most well known in Maritime Southeast Asia.268


Indonesian dishes
Indonesian dishes.
Rendang served with steamed rice, cassava leaf, egg and gulai sauce, as well as Indonesian dishes, including ikan bakar, ayam goreng, nasi timbel, sambal, tempeh goreng, tahu, and sayur asem.

Indonesian cuisine is one of the most vibrant and colourful cuisines in the world, full of intense flavour.269 Rice is the main staple food and is served with side dishes of meat and vegetables. Indonesian dishes began to gain worldwide recognition, with three of its popular dishes make it to the list of 'World's 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers' Pick)', a worldwide online poll by 35,000 people held by CNN International. Rendang is the most delicious on the list, followed by nasi goreng in number two, and satay in number fourteen.270 Some popular Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng,271 gado-gado,272273 sate,274 soto275 and bakso are ubiquitous in the country and considered as national dishes. Padang cuisine is ubiquitous in Indonesian cities and is popular in neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.276


Main article: Media of Indonesia

Media freedom in Indonesia increased considerably after the end of President Suharto's rule, during which the now-defunct Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media, and restricted foreign media.277 The TV market includes ten national commercial networks, and provincial networks that compete with public TVRI. Private radio stations carry their own news bulletins and foreign broadcasters supply programs. At a reported 25 million users in 2008,278 Internet usage was estimated at 12.5% in September 2009.279 More than 30 million cell phones are sold in Indonesia each year, and 27% of them are local brands.280

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Further reading

  • Friend, T. (2003). Indonesian Destinies. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01137-6. 
  • Ricklefs, M. C. (1991). A History of Modern Indonesia since c.1300, Second Edition. MacMillan. ISBN 0-333-57689-6. 
  • Schwarz, A. (1994). A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s. Westview Press. ISBN 1-86373-635-2. 
  • Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10518-5. 
  • Vickers, Adrian (2005). A History of Modern Indonesia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-54262-6. 

External links

General information