Indonesia at a Glance
Living in IndonesiaiStockphoto
Indonesia's rich cultural tradition reaches back thousands of years.
With a population of over 248 million, Indonesia is the 4th largest country in the world. Bet you didn’t know that if you are planning on living in Indonesia, you will be living on the world’s largest archipelago, consisting of 17,500 islands.
Only 2/3rds of the islands are inhabited, and scientists predict that about one to five hundred of them are threatening to disappear. Because of their multitude, these islands have much to offer to those who spend their life in Indonesia in the way of diversity. This diversity does not only concern local flora and fauna, but also includes Indonesia’s fascinating cultural history.
Living in Indonesia: A Brief History
It was discovered that the first human being living in Indonesia was Homo erectus or “Java Man” as he was coined. This fact places human life on the archipelago about half a million years ago. As you can imagine, lots has happened and changed since the first known man living in Indonesia was found.
Life in Indonesia is characterized by a very turbulent colonial history. It became popular among European colonialists during the 16th century, when the desire for spices was strongest. At that time, people living in Indonesia met the onslaught of Portuguese rule and, following close behind in the 17th century, the Dutch came.
The Dutch briefly lost the colony to the British, but regained their “possession” in 1816 and held on for quite a while. Those living in Indonesia had quite a difficult time, as their colonial masters exploited them rather brutally. In the 20th century the Indonesians began to tactically fight for their independence and fully gained it in the late 1940s.
In order to unify the ethnic mixture that Indonesia has become, the founding fathers of the modern state created a republic government. A brief attempt was made at a federal republic, but in 1949 it was decided that Indonesia was to be known as “The Unified Republic of Indonesia”. There are 33 provinces, which are headed by a governor, and over 500 local regencies or cities. The current president of the people living in Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has been in office since 2004.
Life in Indonesia: Population
Living in Indonesia will give you the feeling of being in a sort of melting pot. The official language is Bahasa Indonesian, modified from Malay, yet a multitude of other languages and dialects can be heard too. English and Dutch are recognized as official languages as well, and all children living in Indonesia learn one of the two, mostly English, in school.
Most locals living in Indonesia speak Javanese, which is also the name of the largest ethnic group in the country. The majority of people living in Indonesia are Muslim (86%), with a small number of Protestants (5%), Catholics (3%), Hindus (2%), and others joining in the ranks.
As mentioned previously, there are over 248 million people living in Indonesia on an area of over 1.9 million square kilometers. The largest city is also its capital, Jakarta, with 9.58 million inhabitants in the official 2010 census. Indonesia’s largest island also contains the second largest city, Surabaya, and has 2.77 million people, while Bandung and Medan follow close behind, with 2.39 and 2.10 million respectively.