Indonesia, officially known as the Republic of Indonesia, is an island country situated in Southeast Asia and Oceania, spanning between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It comprises more than 17,000 islands, including major ones like Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, and parts of Borneo and New Guinea Update 09/22/2023
Indonesia is the largest archipelagic state in the world and the 14th-largest country in terms of land area, covering approximately 1,904,569 square kilometers (735,358 square miles). With a population of around 280 million people, Indonesia is the fourth-most populous country globally and the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the most populous island, is home to over half of the country’s population.
As the world’s third-largest democracy, Indonesia is a presidential republic with an elected legislature. It is divided into 38 provinces, nine of which have special status.
The capital city, Jakarta, is the second-most populous urban area worldwide. Indonesia shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and the eastern part of Malaysia. It also has maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and India. Despite having densely populated regions, Indonesia possesses vast areas of wilderness that support a high level of biodiversity.
The Indonesian archipelago has been a significant region for trade since at least the seventh century when the Srivijaya Kingdom established trade links with China.
Throughout its history, Indonesia has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its abundant natural resources. Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished under Indian influence from the early centuries CE. Islam was brought by Muslim traders, and European powers competed to control trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery.
After three and a half centuries of Dutch colonial rule, Indonesia achieved independence following World War II. Since then, Indonesia has faced challenges including natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.
Indonesia is home to thousands of distinct native ethnic and hundreds of linguistic groups, with the Javanese being the largest. The nation has developed a shared identity encapsulated by the motto “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” or “Unity in Diversity.”
This unity is based on a national language, cultural diversity, religious pluralism within a predominantly Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and resistance against it.
The Indonesian economy ranks 16th-largest in the world by nominal GDP and 7th-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The country holds regional power status and is considered a middle power in global affairs.
Indonesia is a member of several international organizations, including the United Nations, World Trade Organization, G20, Non-Aligned Movement, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), East Asia Summit, D-8, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
The name “Indonesia” has its roots in the Greek words “Indos” and “nesos,” which mean “Indian islands.” This name has been in use since the 19th century, long before the formation of the independent nation of Indonesia. In 1850, George Windsor Earl, an English ethnologist, suggested the terms “Indunesians” or “Malayunesians” to refer to the people of the Indian Archipelago or Malay Archipelago. James Richardson Logan, one of Earl’s students, used the term “Indonesia” as a synonym for the Indian Archipelago in his writings. However, Dutch academics writing in East Indies publications at the time preferred terms like “Malay Archipelago,” “Netherlands East Indies,” “the East,” or “Insulinde.”
In the early 20th century, the term “Indonesia” gained more popularity outside the Netherlands, particularly in academic circles. Native nationalist groups also adopted the term for political expression. Adolf Bastian, a scholar from the University of Berlin, further popularized the name through his book “Indonesien oder die Inseln des Malayischen Archipels” (Indonesia or the Islands of the Malay Archipelago) published from 1884 to 1894. Ki Hajar Dewantara, the first native scholar to use the name, established an Indonesian press bureau in the Netherlands in 1913 called “Indonesisch Pers-bureau.” Since then, “Indonesia” has become the widely recognized name for the country.
Fossilized remains of Homo erectus, commonly known as “Java Man,” indicate that the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited between two million and 500,000 years ago. Homo sapiens arrived in the region around 43,000 BCE. The majority of the modern population in Indonesia consists of Austronesian peoples who migrated from Taiwan to Southeast Asia. They reached the archipelago around 2,000 BCE, displacing the native Melanesians to the far eastern regions as they expanded eastward.
The favorable agricultural conditions and the early mastery of wet-field rice cultivation, as early as the eighth century BCE, allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to thrive by the first century CE. The strategic location of the archipelago’s sea-lanes facilitated inter-island and international trade, including trade with Indian kingdoms and Chinese dynasties, dating back several centuries BCE. Trade has played a fundamental role in shaping Indonesian history.
During the seventh century CE, the naval kingdom of Srivijaya flourished due to trade and the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism. Indonesian sailors of that time had embarked on long voyages to Madagascar and East Africa. Between the eighth and tenth centuries CE, the agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java, leaving behind magnificent religious monuments such as Borobudur (built by the Sailendras) and Prambanan (built by the Matarams). In the late 13th century, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java, and under the rule of Gajah Mada, its influence extended over much of present-day Indonesia. This period is often referred to as a “Golden Age” in Indonesian history.
The earliest evidence of Islamized populations in the archipelago dates back to the 13th century in northern Sumatra. Over time, Islam gradually spread throughout the archipelago, becoming the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. Islam blended with existing cultural and religious influences, shaping the predominant form of Islam in Indonesia, particularly in Java.
The first Europeans arrived in the Indonesian archipelago in 1512 when Portuguese traders, led by Francisco Serrão, sought to control the spice trade in the Maluku Islands, specifically nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper. Dutch and British traders soon followed. In 1602, the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which became the dominant European power in the region for nearly 200 years. However, Dutch control over the archipelago remained tenuous during much of the colonial period. They faced frequent rebellions and resistance from local leaders such as Prince Diponegoro, Imam Bonjol, Pattimura, and the Aceh War.
It was only in the early 20th century that the Dutch were able to extend their dominance over the entire territory that would later become Indonesia. However, their rule was interrupted by the Japanese invasion and occupation during World War II. The Japanese occupation ended Dutch rule and encouraged the previously suppressed independence movement in Indonesia. Just two days after Japan’s surrender in August 1945, Indonesian nationalist leaders Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta, and Sutan Sjahrir declared Indonesia’s independence. Sukarno became the president, Mohammad Hatta the vice-president, and Sutan Sjahrir the prime minister.
The Netherlands attempted to regain control over Indonesia, leading to a bitter armed and diplomatic struggle. However, international pressure and the determined fight for independence by Indonesians eventually led to the Dutch formally recognizing Indonesian independence in December 1949. Despite significant political, social, and sectarian divisions, the people of Indonesia united in their struggle for independence.
Post-World War II
During his presidency, Sukarno shifted Indonesia from democracy towards authoritarianism, consolidating power by balancing the military, political Islam, and the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). However, tensions between the military and the PKI escalated, leading to an attempted coup in 1965. In response, the military, under the leadership of General Suharto, orchestrated a violent anti-communist purge, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the imprisonment of many more. The PKI was blamed for the coup and effectively dismantled. Suharto took advantage of Sukarno’s weakened position and eventually assumed the presidency in 1968, establishing the “New Order” administration.
Under the New Order, which received support from the United States, Suharto focused on attracting foreign direct investment, leading to significant economic growth over the following three decades. However, the country faced a severe setback during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which exposed widespread corruption and political suppression under the New Order regime. This triggered popular discontent, leading to Suharto’s resignation in 1998. In the same period, East Timor seceded from Indonesia after a long occupation marked by human rights abuses.
Since 1998, Indonesia has undergone a process of democratization, including enhanced regional autonomy and direct presidential elections. While the country has experienced political, economic, and social challenges, including corruption and terrorism, it has also achieved substantial economic growth. Although Indonesia is home to diverse populations, the relations among different groups are generally harmonious. However, there have been instances of sectarian discontent and violence in some regions. Notably, a political settlement was reached in 2005 to end the armed separatist conflict in Aceh.
Indonesia is located between latitudes 11°S and 6°N and longitudes 95°E and 141°E. It is a transcontinental country spanning Southeast Asia and Oceania, and it holds the distinction of being the world’s largest archipelagic state. The country stretches approximately 5,120 kilometers (3,181 miles) from east to west and 1,760 kilometers (1,094 miles) from north to south. The Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investments Affairs of Indonesia states that the country consists of 17,504 islands (with 16,056 registered at the UN), of which around 6,000 are inhabited. The major islands include Sumatra, Java, Borneo (shared with Brunei and Malaysia), Sulawesi, and New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea).
Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia on Borneo and Sebatik, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea, and East Timor on the island of Timor. It also has maritime borders with Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Palau, and Australia.
Puncak Jaya, standing at 4,884 meters (16,024 feet), is the highest peak in Indonesia, while Lake Toba in Sumatra is the largest lake, covering an area of 1,145 square kilometers (442 square miles). The country’s major rivers, such as Kapuas, Barito, Mamberamo, Sepik, and Mahakam, are located in Kalimantan (Borneo) and New Guinea, serving as important communication and transportation links between river settlements on the islands.
Indonesia is situated along the equator, resulting in a relatively consistent climate throughout the year. The country experiences two main seasons: a wet season and a dry season, without distinct extremes of summer or winter. In most parts of Indonesia, the dry season occurs from May to October, while the wet season falls between November and April.
Indonesia’s climate is predominantly tropical, characterized by the tropical rainforest climate that covers the large islands of the country. However, there are also cooler climate types found in mountainous regions at elevations of 1,300 to 1,500 meters (4,300 to 4,900 feet) above sea level. In these areas, an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb) prevails, with relatively consistent precipitation throughout the year. Highland regions near the tropical monsoon and tropical savanna climates experience a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb), which is characterized by a more pronounced dry season.
Overall, Indonesia’s climate is typically warm and humid, with ample rainfall and lush vegetation in most areas. However, variations can be observed depending on the specific location and altitude within the archipelago.
Certain regions of Indonesia, like Kalimantan and Sumatra, experience minimal variations in rainfall and temperature between seasons. In contrast, other regions, such as Nusa Tenggara, undergo more pronounced differences, with droughts during the dry season and floods in the wet season. Rainfall patterns vary across different areas, with higher precipitation in western Sumatra, Java, and the interiors of Kalimantan and Papua, while regions closer to Australia, like Nusa Tenggara, tend to be drier.
The vast expanse of warm waters surrounding Indonesia, covering 81% of its area, contributes to relatively stable land temperatures. Humidity levels in the country are generally high, ranging between 70% and 90%. Winds are moderate and follow predictable patterns, with monsoons typically blowing from the south and east between June and October, and from the northwest between November and March. While typhoons and large-scale storms pose limited threats to mariners, swift currents in certain channels, such as the Lombok and Sape straits, can be hazardous.
Numerous studies indicate that Indonesia is highly vulnerable to the projected impacts of climate change. If greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked, the country could experience an average temperature increase of approximately 1°C (2°F) by the middle of the century. This rise in temperature would lead to more frequent droughts, food shortages, changes in precipitation patterns, and disruptions to Indonesia’s agriculture system. Additionally, climate change would contribute to the spread of diseases and an increased risk of wildfires. Rising sea levels also pose a significant threat to Indonesia’s coastal population, as a large portion of the country is located in low-lying areas. It is important to note that impoverished communities are likely to be disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change.
Indonesia is located in a tectonically active region, making it prone to frequent earthquakes and hosting numerous volcanoes. The country is situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the Indo-Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate are subducted under the Eurasian plate at a depth of approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles). This tectonic activity has resulted in a string of volcanoes that extend from Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Nusa Tenggara to the Banda Islands of Maluku and northeastern Sulawesi.
Indonesia is home to around 400 volcanoes, with approximately 130 of them classified as active. Between 1972 and 1991 alone, there were 29 volcanic eruptions, mostly occurring in Java. The volcanic ash from these eruptions has had both positive and negative effects on the region. On the one hand, it has contributed to the fertility of the soil, which historically supported the dense populations of Java and Bali. On the other hand, volcanic ash has made agricultural conditions unpredictable in some areas.
Notable volcanic events in Indonesia’s history include the massive eruption of the supervolcano at present-day Lake Toba around 70,000 BCE. This eruption is believed to have caused a global volcanic winter and potentially led to a genetic bottleneck in human evolution. The 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora and the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa were also significant. The eruption of Mount Tambora caused widespread devastation, resulting in 92,000 deaths and a global impact on climate, leading to a year without summer in 1816. The eruption of Krakatoa produced the loudest sound ever recorded and caused 36,000 deaths, along with tsunamis and long-lasting effects around the world.
Indonesia has also experienced catastrophic earthquakes in recent history, including the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the 2006 Yogyakarta earthquake. These seismic events have had significant impacts on the country and its population.
Biodiversity and conservation
Indonesia is known for its remarkable biodiversity, thanks to its large size, tropical climate, and unique archipelagic geography. It is considered one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, characterized by a rich variety of flora and fauna. The country’s ecosystems are a blend of Asian and Australasian species.
The islands on the Sunda Shelf, such as Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Bali, were once connected to mainland Asia and feature a diverse range of Asian fauna. However, the populations of iconic species like the Sumatran tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, Asian elephant, and leopard have significantly declined. Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, and Papua, which have been isolated from the continental landmasses for a long time, have developed their distinct flora and fauna. Papua, in particular, shares a close relationship with Australian biodiversity and is home to numerous unique bird species.
Indonesia has an exceptionally high number of endemic species, second only to Australia. About 36% of its 1,531 bird species and 39% of its 515 mammal species are endemic to the country. The vast coastline stretching over 80,000 kilometers is surrounded by tropical seas, encompassing a wide range of coastal and marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves, estuaries, and tidal flats. Indonesia is part of the Coral Triangle, which is renowned for its immense diversity of coral reef fish, with over 1,650 species found in the eastern part of the country alone.
The British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace identified a distinct boundary, known as the Wallace Line, between the Asian and Australasian species distributions in Indonesia. It roughly runs north to south along the edge of the Sunda Shelf and the Lombok Strait. West of this line, the flora and fauna have predominantly Asian characteristics, while to the east, they exhibit more Australian influences. The region between the Wallace Line and New Guinea is referred to as Wallacea.
Despite its incredible biodiversity, Indonesia faces significant environmental challenges. The country’s large and rapidly growing population, along with industrialization, has led to serious environmental issues. Due to high poverty levels and limited resources, environmental concerns often receive lower priority. Challenges include deforestation, particularly driven by industries such as palm oil production, illegal logging, over-exploitation of marine resources, air pollution, inadequate waste management, and water and wastewater services. These issues have contributed to Indonesia’s relatively low ranking on the Environmental Performance Index.
Deforestation is a significant problem, with Indonesia having one of the highest deforestation rates globally. Forests covered around 49.1% of the country’s land area in 2020, down from 87% in 1950. Deforestation has been driven by various factors over the years, including logging, plantations, and agriculture. The palm oil industry has played a significant role in recent deforestation, causing concerns about its environmental impact and displacement of local communities. Indonesia’s deforestation also contributes to its status as the world’s largest forest-based emitter of greenhouse gases and poses a threat to the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including the Bali myna, Sumatran orangutan, and Javan rhinoceros.
Government and politics
Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system of government. Since the end of the New Order regime in 1998, significant political and governmental reforms have taken place, including four constitutional amendments that have restructured the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
The President of Indonesia serves as both the head of state and head of government. The president is responsible for domestic governance, policy-making, foreign affairs, and is the commander-in-chief of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI). The president can serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
The highest national representative body is the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR). Its main functions include amending the constitution, inaugurating and impeaching the president, and establishing broad state policies. The MPR consists of two houses: the People’s Representative Council (DPR) with 575 members and the Regional Representative Council (DPD) with 136 members. The DPR is responsible for passing legislation and overseeing the executive branch, while the DPD focuses on regional management matters.
Civil disputes are typically heard in the State Court (Pengadilan Negeri), with appeals handled by the High Court (Pengadilan Tinggi). The Supreme Court of Indonesia (Mahkamah Agung) is the highest judicial authority, hearing final appeals and conducting case reviews. Other specialized courts include the Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi), which deals with constitutional and political matters, and the Religious Court (Pengadilan Agama), which handles cases related to Islamic Personal Law (sharia). The Judicial Commission (Komisi Yudisial) is responsible for monitoring the performance of judges.
Parties and elections
Since 1999, Indonesia has operated under a multi-party system. In the legislative elections held after the fall of the New Order regime, no single political party has been able to secure an outright majority of seats. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), led by President Joko Widodo, emerged as the party with the most votes in the 2019 elections. Other notable political parties include the Party of the Functional Groups (Golkar), the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), the Democratic Party, and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
The first general election took place in 1955 to elect members of the People’s Representative Council (DPR) and the Constitutional Assembly (Konstituante). In the most recent elections held in 2019, nine political parties secured seats in the DPR, with a parliamentary threshold of 4% of the national vote. At the national level, the election of the president did not occur until 2004. Since then, the president is elected for a five-year term, along with the party-aligned members of the DPR and the non-partisan Regional Representative Council (DPD).
Starting from the 2015 local elections, governors and mayors have been elected on the same date. In 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that legislative and presidential elections would be held simultaneously, starting from 2019.
Indonesia has a multi-level system of subdivisions. The first level consists of provinces, each with its own legislature called the People’s Representative Council at the Provincial Level (DPRD Provinsi) and an elected governor. Over the years, the number of provinces has increased from the original eight established in 1945 to a total of 38 provinces, with the most recent change being the split of Southwest Papua from the province of West Papua in 2022.
The second level of subdivisions includes regencies (kabupaten) and cities (kota), each led by a regent (bupati) or mayor (walikota) respectively. These regencies and cities also have their own legislatures called the Regional People’s Representative Council at the Regency/City Level (DPRD Kabupaten/Kota).
The third level of subdivisions is the districts (kecamatan, distrik in Papua, or kapanewon and kemantren in Yogyakarta), and the fourth level consists of villages (desa, kelurahan, kampung, nagari in West Sumatra, or gampong in Aceh). The village is the lowest level of government administration and is divided into community groups known as RW (rukun warga), which are further divided into neighborhood groups known as RT (rukun tetangga). In Java, the village (desa) is further divided into smaller units called dusun or dukuh (hamlets), which are equivalent to RW. The village administration level plays a significant role in citizens’ daily lives and is responsible for handling village or neighborhood matters through an elected village head (lurah or kepala desa).
Nine provinces in Indonesia, namely Aceh, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Papua, Central Papua, Highland Papua, South Papua, Southwest Papua, and West Papua, have been granted special autonomous status (otonomi khusus) by the central government. Aceh, known for its conservative Islamic values, has the right to implement aspects of an independent legal system based on sharia. Jakarta is unique as it is the only city with a provincial government due to its status as the capital of Indonesia. Yogyakarta is the only pre-colonial monarchy officially recognized within Indonesia, and the positions of governor and vice governor are reserved for the reigning Sultan of Yogyakarta and Duke of Pakualaman, respectively. The six Papuan provinces have special privileges for indigenous people in their local government.
Foreign relations Update 09/22/2023
Indonesia maintains 132 diplomatic missions abroad, including 95 embassies. The country follows a “free and active” foreign policy, aiming to play a role in regional affairs in proportion to its size and location while avoiding involvement in conflicts among other nations.
During the Cold War, Indonesia was a significant battleground, with the United States, the Soviet Union, and to some extent, China, making various attempts to exert influence. The 1965 coup attempt and subsequent upheaval resulted in a reorientation of Indonesia’s foreign policy. Since then, Indonesia has maintained a non-aligned stance while quietly aligning itself with the Western world. The country maintains close relations with its neighbors and is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East Asia Summit. Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and actively supports Palestine, although there have been observations of discreet ties between Indonesia and Israel.
Indonesia has been a member of the United Nations since 1950 and played a role in the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The country is a signatory to the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement, the Cairns Group, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and was previously a member of OPEC. Indonesia has been both a recipient of humanitarian and development aid since 1967 and established its own overseas aid program in late 2019.
Additionally, Indonesia serves as the seat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat and is the diplomatic capital for ASEAN in Jakarta.
Military Update 09/22/2023
Indonesia’s Armed Forces (TNI) consist of the Army (TNI–AD), Navy (TNI–AL, including the Marine Corps), and Air Force (TNI–AU). The army has approximately 400,000 active-duty personnel. Defense spending in the national budget was 0.7% of GDP in 2018, and there have been controversies surrounding the involvement of military-owned commercial interests and foundations.
The Armed Forces were formed during the Indonesian National Revolution, where they engaged in guerrilla warfare and informal militia activities. Since then, the territorial lines have formed the basis of the structure for all branches of the TNI. The primary goals of the TNI are to maintain domestic stability and deter foreign threats. The military has historically had a strong political influence since its establishment, which reached its peak during the New Order era. Political reforms in 1998 led to the removal of the TNI’s formal representation from the legislature. However, the military still maintains some level of political influence, albeit reduced.
Indonesia has faced challenges in maintaining unity against local insurgencies and separatist movements since its independence. Some regions, such as Aceh and Papua, have experienced armed conflicts, resulting in allegations of human rights abuses and brutality from all sides. The conflict in Aceh was peacefully resolved in 2005, while the situation in Papua has continued, although there has been a reported decline in violence and human rights abuses since 2006, accompanied by the implementation of regional autonomy laws.
The Indonesian Army has also been involved in various engagements, including the conflict with the Netherlands over Dutch New Guinea, opposition to the creation of Malaysia (known as “Konfrontasi”), the mass killings of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), and the invasion of East Timor, which remains one of Indonesia’s largest military operations.
Economy Update 09/22/2023
Indonesia has a mixed economy with significant involvement from both the private sector and the government. As the only G20 member in Southeast Asia, Indonesia boasts the largest economy in the region and is classified as a newly industrialized country. It ranks as the 16th largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and 7th largest by GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP), estimated at US$1.392 trillion and US$4.398 trillion respectively in 2023. The per capita GDP in PPP is approximately US$15,855, while the nominal per capita GDP is around US$5,016.
The services sector is the largest contributor to Indonesia’s GDP, accounting for 43.4% in 2018, followed by industry at 39.7% and agriculture at 12.8%. In terms of employment, the services sector has been the primary employer since 2009, employing 47.7% of the total labor force, followed by agriculture (30.2%) and industry (21.9%). Over time, the structure of the economy has undergone significant changes.
Historically, the economy was heavily reliant on agriculture, reflecting both its stage of development and government policies in the 1950s and 1960s aimed at achieving agricultural self-sufficiency. However, a process of industrialization and urbanization began in the late 1960s and gained momentum in the 1980s, driven by the government’s focus on diversifying away from oil exports and towards manufactured exports. This transformation continued into the 1990s, despite the setback caused by the 1997 Asian financial crisis. During this period, the economy grew at an average rate of 7.1%, and the poverty rate dropped from 60% to 15%.
Indonesia’s integration into the global economy increased as trade barriers were reduced in the mid-1980s. In recent years, the country has experienced steady inflation and strong economic growth, with annual growth rates ranging from 4% to 6% from 2007 to 2019. The banking sector improvements and domestic consumption played a significant role in this growth, enabling Indonesia to weather the 2008-2009 Great Recession and regain its investment-grade rating in 2011.
Despite the positive economic trends, challenges remain. As of 2019, 9.41% of the population lived below the poverty line, and the official open unemployment rate stood at 5.28%. The COVID-19 pandemic caused Indonesia’s first recession since the 1997 crisis, but the economy has shown signs of recovery in the following year.
Indonesia is rich in natural resources, including fishing, petroleum, timber, paper products, cotton cloth, tourism, petroleum mining, natural gas, bauxite, coal, and tin. The country’s main agricultural products are rice, coconuts, soybeans, bananas, coffee, tea, palm oil, rubber, and sugar cane. These commodities form a significant portion of Indonesia’s exports, with palm oil and coal briquettes leading the way. The country imports refined and crude petroleum, telephones, vehicle parts, and wheat, with China, the United States, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand as its primary export markets and import partners.
Indonesia’s transportation system has been shaped by its archipelago geography and the concentration of its population on the island of Java. The country’s transport modes are generally complementary rather than competitive, with each playing a role in the overall system. The transport sector contributed around 5.2% of GDP in 2016.
The road transport system is the most dominant, with a total length of approximately 542,310 kilometers (336,980 miles) as of 2018. Jakarta, the capital city, is home to the world’s longest bus rapid transit system, covering 251.2 kilometers (156.1 miles) across 13 corridors and ten cross-corridor routes. Rickshaws, such as bajaj and becak, as well as share taxis like Angkot and minibusses, are common sights in the country.
The railway network is primarily located in Java, with additional lines in three separate areas of Sumatra. Railways are used for both freight and passenger transport, including local commuter rail services in cities like Greater Jakarta and Yogyakarta-Solo, which complement the inter-city rail network. In recent years, rapid transit systems have been introduced in Jakarta and Palembang, with plans for further expansion in other cities. Additionally, a high-speed rail connecting Jakarta and Bandung is set to operate in 2023, becoming the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.
In terms of air travel, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, located in Jakarta, is Indonesia’s largest and one of the busiest airports in the Southern Hemisphere, serving 54 million passengers in 2019. Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali and Juanda International Airport in Surabaya are the country’s second and third busiest airports, respectively. Garuda Indonesia, the national flag carrier since 1949, is a prominent airline and a member of the global airline alliance SkyTeam.
The Port of Tanjung Priok, located in Jakarta, is Indonesia’s busiest and most advanced port. It handles over 50% of the country’s transshipment cargo traffic, facilitating international trade and maritime transportation.
In 2019, Indonesia produced 4,999 terawatt-hours (17.059 quadrillion British thermal units) of energy and consumed 2,357 terawatt-hours (8.043 quadrillion British thermal units). The country has significant energy resources, including 22 billion barrels (3.5 billion cubic meters) of conventional oil and gas reserves, with about 4 billion barrels considered recoverable. Additionally, Indonesia has 8 billion barrels of oil-equivalent of coal-based methane resources and 28 billion tonnes of recoverable coal.
As of late 2020, Indonesia’s total installed power generation capacity reached 72,750.72 MW. While there has been an increase in reliance on domestic coal and imported oil between 2010 and 2019, the country has made progress in developing renewable energy sources. Hydropower and geothermal energy are the most abundant renewable sources, accounting for more than 8% of the country’s energy mix. One notable example of hydropower is the Jatiluhur Dam, the country’s largest dam, with an installed capacity of 186.5 MW, supplying the Java grid managed by the State Electricity Company (Perusahaan Listrik Negara, PLN).
Indonesia also has the potential for solar, wind, biomass, and ocean energy. However, as of 2021, the contribution of power generation from these sources remains relatively small. Efforts are being made to further develop and integrate renewable energy into the country’s energy mix to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote sustainability.
Science and technology Update 09/22/2023
Government expenditure on research and development in Indonesia is relatively low, amounting to 0.3% of GDP in 2019. This indicates a lower level of investment in scientific and technological advancements compared to some other countries. In the 2021 Global Innovation Index report, Indonesia ranked 87th out of 132 economies, reflecting the country’s current position in terms of innovation.
However, Indonesia does have a history of notable scientific and technological developments. Traditional practices like the paddy cultivation technique called terasering, commonly used in Southeast Asia, demonstrate indigenous knowledge and innovation in agriculture. The Bugis and Makassar people have also been known for their skill in constructing pinisi boats.
In the 1980s, Indonesian engineer Tjokorda Raka Sukawati invented a road construction technique known as Sosrobahu, which gained recognition and was adopted in several countries. The Indonesian Railway Industry (INKA), a state-owned company, is actively involved in the production of passenger trains and freight wagons and has even exported trains to other countries.
Indonesia is unique in Southeast Asia as the only country capable of building and producing aircraft. The state-owned company, PT. Dirgantara Indonesia (Indonesian Aerospace), has collaborated with international partners such as Boeing and Airbus, supplying components for their aircraft. Indonesia’s aerospace capabilities were further demonstrated through the development of the CN-235, a collaboration with EADS CASA of Spain, which has been utilized by multiple countries. Former President B. J. Habibie played a significant role in advancing Indonesia’s aircraft manufacturing industry.
The country also has a space program and a space agency called the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN). In the 1970s, Indonesia became the first developing country to operate a satellite system called Palapa, primarily for communication purposes. Indonesia has launched a total of 18 satellites for various applications as of 2019.
While Indonesia may face challenges in research and development investment and innovation, it has demonstrated notable achievements in certain scientific, technological, and aerospace endeavors.
Tourism plays a significant role in Indonesia’s economy, contributing approximately US$9.8 billion to the country’s GDP in 2020. In the previous year, Indonesia welcomed 15.4 million visitors. The top five sources of visitors to Indonesia are China, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and Japan.
The country’s international marketing campaign slogan, “Wonderful Indonesia,” has been in place since 2011 to promote tourism. Indonesia offers a diverse range of attractions, with nature and culture being the prime highlights. The country boasts a well-preserved natural ecosystem, with rainforests covering about 57% of the land, equivalent to 225 million acres. Popular destinations include the rainforests in Sumatra and Kalimantan, which are home to wildlife reserves like the Orangutan wildlife reserve. Additionally, Indonesia has one of the world’s longest coastlines, stretching over 54,716 kilometers (33,999 miles).
Cultural tourism is also a major draw for visitors. The ancient Borobudur and Prambanan temples are iconic attractions, showcasing Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage. Regions like Toraja and Bali with their traditional festivities offer unique cultural experiences.
Indonesia is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Komodo National Park and the Sawahlunto Coal Mine. Additionally, there are 19 sites on the tentative list, including Bunaken National Park and Raja Ampat Islands, which are being considered for future inclusion.
The country’s history, including the colonial heritage of the Dutch East Indies, is reflected in the old towns of Jakarta and Semarang, which attract tourists interested in Indonesian history. Furthermore, royal palaces such as Pagaruyung, Ubud, and Yogyakarta showcase the cultural and architectural heritage of Indonesia.
Overall, Indonesia offers a wide range of attractions, encompassing nature, culture, history, and heritage, making it a popular destination for tourists from around the world.
According to the 2020 census, Indonesia’s population was recorded as 270.2 million, making it the fourth most populous country in the world. The population has a moderately high growth rate of 1.25%. The island of Java is the most populous in the world, with 56% of the country’s population residing there. The overall population density is 141 people per square kilometer (365 per square mile), ranking 88th globally. However, Java has a much higher population density of 1,067 people per square kilometer (2,435 per square mile). In 1961, the first post-colonial census recorded a total population of 97 million. It is projected to reach around 295 million by 2030 and 321 million by 2050.
The distribution of the population across the archipelago is uneven, with varying habitats and levels of development. This ranges from the densely populated megacity of Jakarta to remote and uncontacted tribes in Papua. As of 2017, approximately 54.7% of the population lives in urban areas. Jakarta, the capital city, is the country’s primate city and the second-most populous urban area globally, with over 34 million residents. Additionally, around 8 million Indonesians live overseas, with significant populations settled in Malaysia, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, and Australia.
Ethnic groups and languages Update 09/22/2023
Indonesia is known for its rich ethnic diversity, with approximately 1,300 distinct native ethnic groups. The majority of Indonesians are descended from Austronesian peoples, whose languages have origins in Proto-Austronesian, believed to have originated in present-day Taiwan. The Melanesians, who inhabit eastern Indonesia, including the Maluku Islands, Western New Guinea, and the eastern part of the Lesser Sunda Islands, form another major ethnic grouping.
The Javanese are the largest ethnic group in Indonesia, making up 40.2% of the population. They hold significant political influence and are primarily located in the central to eastern parts of Java, although they also have sizeable populations in other provinces. The Sundanese are the next largest ethnic group, comprising 15.4% of the population, followed by the Batak, Madurese, Betawi, Minangkabau, Bugis, and Malay people. Despite a sense of Indonesian national identity, strong regional identities are also prevalent.
The official language of Indonesia is Indonesian, which is a variant of Malay based on its prestige dialect. Indonesian became the archipelago’s lingua franca centuries ago and was promoted by nationalists in the 1920s. It gained official status in 1945 under the name Bahasa Indonesia. Due to its historical contact with other languages, Indonesian has absorbed various local and foreign influences. Nearly all Indonesians speak the language due to its widespread use in education, communication, business, politics, and mass media. Additionally, most Indonesians speak at least one of the over 700 local languages, many of which belong to the Austronesian language family. Eastern Indonesia, particularly, has over 270 Papuan languages. Javanese is the most widely spoken local language and has co-official status in the Special Region of Yogyakarta.
In the past, the Dutch and other Europeans, Eurasians, and individuals of mixed descent known as Indos made up a small fraction of the population. In 1930, they constituted 0.4% of the total population. Despite the Dutch colonial presence for nearly 350 years, the Dutch language never gained substantial numbers of speakers or official status. Today, only a small minority, including the aforementioned ethnic groups and descendants of Dutch colonizers, are fluent in Dutch or Dutch-based creole languages. Dutch fluency is more common among older generations or professionals in specific fields, as some legal codes are still only available in Dutch.
Indonesia is constitutionally committed to guaranteeing religious freedom, although the government officially recognizes only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Indigenous religions are only partially acknowledged. With a population of 231 million (86.7%) in 2018, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, with Sunnis comprising the majority (99%). Shias and Ahmadis constitute 1% and 0.2% of Muslims, respectively. Christians make up about 10% of the population and are the majority in several provinces in eastern Indonesia. Balinese Hindus and Chinese Indonesians form the majority of Hindus and Buddhists, respectively. The indigenous peoples of the archipelago originally practiced animism and dynamism, which are common beliefs among Austronesian peoples. They worshipped ancestral spirits and believed in supernatural spirits inhabiting certain places.
Hindu and Buddhist influences reached the Indonesian archipelago as early as the first century CE. The Sundanese Kingdom of Salakanagara in western Java was the first historically recorded Indianized kingdom in the region. Buddhism arrived in the 6th century and had a closely intertwined history with Hinduism. Hindu and Buddhist empires such as Majapahit, Sailendra, Srivijaya, and Mataram rose and fell in the archipelago, leaving a significant influence on Indonesian culture. Islam was introduced by Sunni and Sufi traders from the 8th century onward. It blended with existing cultural and religious influences, resulting in a distinct form of Islam. Islamic missionary activities, trade, and military campaigns helped spread Islam across the region, replacing Hinduism and Buddhism as the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the 16th century. Catholicism was brought by Portuguese traders and missionaries, while Protestantism emerged during the Dutch colonial era.
There was a small Jewish presence in the archipelago until 1945, consisting mostly of Dutch and Baghdadi Jews. However, since the majority left after Indonesia declared independence, Judaism was never officially recognized, and only a few Jews remain today, primarily in Jakarta and Surabaya.
Interfaith relations in Indonesia have been shaped by political leadership and civil society groups at the national and local levels. While the first principle of Indonesia’s philosophical foundation, Pancasila (belief in the one and only God), emphasizes religious tolerance, instances of intolerance have also occurred. Religion holds great importance to the overwhelming majority of Indonesians, being seen as an integral part of life.
Education and health
Education in Indonesia is compulsory for 12 years, and parents have the option to choose between state-run non-sectarian schools or private and semi-private religious schools, typically Islamic, which are supervised by the ministries of Education and Religion, respectively. There are also private international schools that follow a different curriculum. The enrollment rates in primary, secondary, and tertiary education are 93%, 79%, and 36%, respectively, as of 2018. The literacy rate stands at 96% (2018), and the government allocates approximately 3.6% of GDP (2015) to education. Indonesia has a total of 4,670 higher educational institutions, with the majority (74%) located in Sumatra and Java. The University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University, and the Bandung Institute of Technology are among the top universities in the country, according to the QS World University Rankings.
Regarding healthcare, government expenditure accounted for about 3.3% of GDP in 2016. In an effort to achieve universal healthcare, the government introduced the National Health Insurance (Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional, JKN) in 2014.
The JKN provides coverage for a range of services from both public and private firms that have joined the scheme. Although there have been significant improvements in healthcare in recent decades, such as increased life expectancy (from 62.3 years in 1990 to 71.7 years in 2019) and decreased child mortality (from 84 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to 23.9 deaths in 2019), challenges persist. These challenges include maternal and child health, air quality, malnutrition, high smoking rates, and infectious diseases.
Issues Update 09/22/2023
In the economic sphere, there exists a disparity in wealth, unemployment rates, and health outcomes between densely populated islands and economic centers, such as Sumatra and Java, and sparsely populated and disadvantaged areas, like Maluku and Papua. This situation is attributed to the fact that nearly 80% of Indonesia’s population resides in the western parts of the archipelago, which experiences slower economic growth compared to other regions.
In the social arena, Indonesia has a history of documented cases of racism and discrimination, particularly against Chinese Indonesians and Papuans. These instances have sometimes resulted in violent conflicts, including the May 1998 riots and the ongoing Papua conflict that dates back to 1962. LGBT individuals also face significant challenges, as there has been a notable rise in anti-LGBT rhetoric since the 2010s, particularly after 2016. This has led to frequent intimidation, discrimination, and acts of violence against the LGBT community.
Furthermore, reports indicate that Indonesia has a significant number of child and forced laborers. Child labor is prevalent in industries such as palm oil and tobacco, while forced labor is prominent in the fishing industry. These issues pose ongoing challenges for the country.
The cultural history of the Indonesian archipelago extends over a period of more than two thousand years. Throughout its history, the region has been influenced by various cultures and civilizations, including those from the Indian subcontinent, mainland China, the Middle East, Europe, as well as Melanesian and Austronesian peoples. These influences have played a significant role in shaping the cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity of modern-day Indonesia.
As a result of this rich historical heritage, Indonesia has a multicultural, multilingual, and multi-ethnic society. The country’s cultural landscape is characterized by a complex blend of traditions, languages, and customs that have evolved over time and differ significantly from the original indigenous cultures. This cultural diversity is a source of pride for Indonesia and contributes to its vibrant and dynamic society.
Indonesia is recognized for its cultural heritage on the international stage, with twelve items listed as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. These include traditional art forms such as wayang puppet theatre, kris (a distinctive Indonesian dagger), batik (a traditional textile), pencak silat (a martial art), angklung (a musical instrument), gamelan (a traditional ensemble), and the three genres of traditional Balinese dance. These cultural treasures reflect the richness and diversity of Indonesia’s cultural heritage and continue to be celebrated and cherished by its people.
Art and architecture Update 09/22/2023
Indonesian arts encompass a wide range of art forms, both traditional and contemporary, which have been developed over centuries. These art forms have been influenced by various foreign cultures, including India, the Arab world, China, and Europe, through trade and cultural interactions.
One notable art form in Indonesia is painting, particularly renowned in Bali, where the Balinese people are known for their artistic skills. The painting tradition in Bali originated from the classical Kamasan or Wayang style, which draws inspiration from visual art found on the bas-reliefs of ancient Javanese temples.
Indonesia is also known for its rich tradition of sculpture. Megalithic sculptures have been discovered in various regions, showcasing the ancient artistic expressions of the Indonesian people. Tribal art has thrived among communities such as the Nias, Batak, Asmat, Dayak, and Toraja, with wood and stone being commonly used materials for sculpting.
In terms of architecture, Indonesian architectural styles have been influenced by foreign cultures, leading to diverse building styles and techniques. Indian influence has been dominant historically, but Chinese, Arab, and European influences have also played significant roles. Traditional carpentry, masonry, and woodwork techniques are showcased in vernacular architecture, with each ethnic group having its own distinct style and history.
Various traditional houses and settlements reflect the diversity of Indonesian architecture. Examples include the Toraja’s Tongkonan, the Minangkabau’s Rumah Gadang and Rangkiang, Javanese Pendopo pavilions with Joglo-style roofs, Dayak longhouses, various Malay houses, Balinese houses and temples, as well as different types of rice barns known as “lumbung.”
The rich artistic and architectural heritage of Indonesia is a testament to the country’s cultural diversity and the creative expressions of its people throughout history.
Music, dance and clothing
Indonesia has a rich and diverse musical heritage that dates back to ancient times. Indigenous tribes in the country have incorporated chants, songs, and musical instruments into their rituals for centuries. Traditional Indonesian instruments include the angklung, kacapi suling, gong, gamelan, talempong, kulintang, and sasando. These instruments are used in various traditional music genres across the archipelago.
The music of Indonesia has been shaped by cultural encounters and influences from foreign sources. For example, there are Middle Eastern influences in genres such as gambus and qasida, while keroncong has its roots in Portuguese music. Dangdut, one of Indonesia’s most popular music genres, has notable Hindi and Malay influences. Indonesian music has gained popularity not only within the country but also in neighboring Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, due to shared cultural elements and language similarities between Indonesian and Malay.
Indonesian dances have a rich history with over 3,000 original dances. Many of these dances have their origins in rituals and religious worship. There are war dances, dances performed by witch doctors, and dances associated with agricultural rituals such as Hudoq, which is meant to call for rain. Indonesian dances draw inspiration from prehistoric and tribal traditions, as well as the Hindu-Buddhist and Islamic periods in the country’s history. While modern and urban dances influenced by Western, Japanese, and Korean cultures have gained popularity, traditional dances from Java, Bali, and Dayak communities continue to be an integral part of Indonesian culture.
The clothing styles in Indonesia reflect the country’s diverse cultural history. The national costume is influenced by indigenous cultures and traditional textile traditions. The Javanese Batik and Kebaya are iconic examples of Indonesia’s national costumes, although they also have origins in Sundanese and Balinese traditions. Each province in Indonesia has its own representation of traditional attire, such as the Ulos of the Batak people in North Sumatra, the Songket of the Malay and Minangkabau in Sumatra, and the Ikat of the Sasak people in Lombok. Traditional and modern attire is worn during various occasions, including weddings, formal ceremonies, music performances, and official events, showcasing the diversity and beauty of Indonesian clothing traditions.
Theatre and cinema
Wayang, the traditional Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese shadow puppet theatre, is a prominent cultural art form in Indonesia. It showcases mythological legends such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Other local drama forms include Javanese Ludruk and Ketoprak, Sundanese Sandiwara, Betawi Lenong, and various Balinese dance dramas. These performances often incorporate humor, audience participation, and elements of music, dance, and martial arts like silat. For example, Randai from the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra combines music, dance, and storytelling based on semi-historical Minangkabau legends and love stories. Traditional theatre and drama often play a role in traditional ceremonies and festivals, preserving cultural heritage.
Modern performing arts have also developed in Indonesia, with a distinct style of drama. Notable theatre, dance, and drama troupes, such as Teater Koma, are known for their portrayal of social and political satire in Indonesian society.
The history of Indonesian cinema dates back to the silent film era, with the first film produced in the archipelago being Loetoeng Kasaroeng by Dutch director L. Heuveldorp. After independence, the film industry expanded, with notable filmmakers like Usmar Ismail making significant contributions in the 1950s and 1960s. During Sukarno’s era, cinema was used for nationalistic purposes, while the New Order regime imposed censorship to maintain social order. The production of films reached its peak in the 1980s but declined in the following decade.
Since 1998, independent filmmaking has experienced a revival, addressing previously banned topics such as religion, race, and love. The number of films released annually has steadily increased, with filmmakers like Riri Riza and Mira Lesmana making significant contributions. Indonesian films like Kuldesak (1999), Ada Apa dengan Cinta? (2002), and Laskar Pelangi (2008) gained popularity and recognition. In 2022, KKN di Desa Penari became the most-watched Indonesian film, breaking box office records. Indonesia hosts annual film festivals and awards, including the Indonesian Film Festival (Festival Film Indonesia), which presents the prestigious Citra Award. The festival was held annually from 1973 to 1992, then discontinued and revived in 2004.
Mass media and literature
After the fall of the New Order regime, media freedom in Indonesia significantly increased. During the New Order era, the Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media while restricting foreign media. However, with the regime’s downfall, the media landscape underwent significant changes.
The television market in Indonesia consists of national commercial networks, provincial networks, and the public broadcaster TVRI. Prior to 1989, TVRI held a monopoly on TV broadcasting, but with improved communication systems, television signals reached every village by the early 21st century, offering up to 11 channels for viewers to choose from. Private radio stations provide news bulletins, and foreign broadcasters contribute programs to the media landscape.
The number of printed publications has seen a significant increase since 1998, reflecting the growing media diversity. The development of the internet in Indonesia began in the early 1990s, and the country’s first commercial internet service provider, PT. Indo Internet, started operating in Jakarta in 1994. In 2018, Indonesia had 171 million internet users, with an increasing penetration rate. Most users, particularly those between the ages of 15 and 19, primarily access the internet through mobile phones, outnumbering laptops and computers.
The Indonesian archipelago has a rich literary tradition, with evidence of writing dating back to the 5th century in the form of Sanskrit inscriptions. The country’s diverse ethnic groups have oral traditions that play a significant role in defining and preserving their cultural identities. In written poetry and prose, traditional forms such as syair, pantun, gurindam, hikayat, and babad dominate. Notable works include Syair Abdul Muluk, Hikayat Hang Tuah, Sulalatus Salatin, and Babad Tanah Jawi.
Modern Indonesian literature has its roots in the Sumatran tradition and experienced a flourishing period in the decades leading up to and after independence. The establishment of Balai Pustaka, the government bureau for popular literature, in 1917 contributed to the development of indigenous literature. Many consider the 1950s and 1960s as the Golden Age of Indonesian Literature. The style and characteristics of modern Indonesian literature have been shaped by the country’s political and social dynamics, including the war of independence in the 1940s and the anti-communist mass killings in the mid-1960s. Prominent literary figures of the modern era include Hamka, Chairil Anwar, Mohammad Yamin, Merari Siregar, Marah Roesli, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and Ayu Utami.
Cuisine Update 09/22/2023
Indonesian cuisine is known for its incredible diversity, vibrant flavors, and colorful presentation. It incorporates a wide range of regional cuisines, each with its own unique characteristics influenced by indigenous culture and foreign culinary traditions, including Chinese, European, Middle Eastern, and Indian influences.
Rice is the staple food in Indonesian cuisine and is typically served with various side dishes of meat and vegetables. Spices, particularly chili, play a significant role in creating the bold and intense flavors that Indonesian dishes are known for. Coconut milk, fish, and chicken are also fundamental ingredients in many Indonesian recipes.
Several dishes have achieved national popularity and are considered iconic in Indonesian cuisine. Nasi goreng (fried rice), gado-gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), sate (grilled skewered meat), and soto (aromatic soup) are widely enjoyed across the country. In 2014, the Ministry of Tourism designated tumpeng as the official national dish. Tumpeng is a cone-shaped rice dish that symbolizes the unity and diversity of Indonesia’s culinary traditions.
There are many other popular dishes in Indonesian cuisine, such as rendang, a slow-cooked meat dish originating from the Minangkabau culture. Other Minangkabau cuisines include dendeng (thinly sliced dried meat) and gulai (curry). Oncom, a fermented food similar to tempeh but made from different bases and fungi, is particularly popular in West Java.
Indonesian cuisine offers a rich and varied culinary experience, reflecting the country’s diverse cultural heritage and the use of local ingredients and spices. It is a true delight for food enthusiasts seeking bold and tantalizing flavors.
Badminton and football are the two most popular sports in Indonesia. The country has a strong reputation in badminton and has achieved significant success in international competitions. Indonesia has won the Thomas Cup (the men’s team championship) and the Uber Cup (the women’s team championship), making it one of the few countries to do so. Badminton, along with weightlifting, has contributed the most to Indonesia’s Olympic medal tally.
In football, Indonesia has a premier club league called Liga 1, which showcases the country’s top football talent. The national team, known as the Indonesian national football team or “Timnas,” has participated in international tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup in 1938 as the Dutch East Indies, making them the first Asian team to compete in the tournament. At the regional level, Indonesia has achieved success in the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), winning three gold medals in 1987, 1991, and 2023, as well as a bronze medal in the 1958 Asian Games. However, Indonesia has yet to progress to the knockout phase in the AFC Asian Cup, despite qualifying for five tournaments.
Boxing and basketball are also popular sports in Indonesia. Basketball has a long history in the country and was included in the first National Games (Pekan Olahraga Nasional, PON) in 1948. Sepak takraw, a traditional sport, and karapan sapi (bull racing) in Madura are unique to Indonesian culture. In regions with a history of tribal warfare, mock fighting contests such as caci in Flores and pasola in Sumba are held. Pencak Silat, an Indonesian martial art, gained recognition as a sporting event in the Asian Games in 2018, with Indonesia being a leading competitor.
Indonesia has a strong sports tradition in Southeast Asia and has topped the medal table at the SEA Games ten times since 1977, most recently in 2011. The country’s passion for sports is evident in its achievements and the enthusiasm of its athletes and fans.