The unique Indonesia

map of IndonesiaLets see what makes this country in Southeast Asia so unique…

 

The 4th most populous country in the world

Right after China, India and United States, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country with a over 261 million inhabitants. Majority (58%) of Indonesians live on the island of Java, the most populous island in the world. Located in Java is the capital city Jakarta with 10 million people.

 

A country with the largest muslim population

There are more than 228 million muslims living in Indonesia however it is not an Islamic country by law. Islam is not stated in the constitution and sharia law is not applied (with the exception of the region of Aceh). The country has around 300 ethnic groups with different religions. To keep Indonesia strong and united, the motto of the country is “Unity in diversity”. The government officially recognizes 6 religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Budhism, and Confucianism. It is not uncommon to see a mosque situated short distance apart from a catholic church or hindu temple. On the island of Bali there is even a place with five temples in a row, each one belonging to a different belief. In each citizen’s ID religion has to be stated. There is not an option to be an atheist. Indonesians might think there must be something wrong if a person does not believe in God.

 

More than 742 languages and dialects spoken

After hundreds of years as a Dutch colony and Japanese occupation, in 1945 Indonesia became independent. However the founding fathers of the republic of Indonesia had to solve an issue. With hundreds of ethnic groups using different languages they needed to find a way to unite the country with an official language. They standardized Indonesian language based mostly on Malay.
One research ranked Indonesia as the top trilingual country in the world. But many Indonesians speak more than that. For example Balinese people living on the island of Bali speak Balinese, Indonesian and many of them also English. However the Balinese language has several levels each using quite different words in the vocabulary. And you need to know at least two levels to speak without risking to offend someone of a higher cast.

 

Country of thousands of islands

Indonesia comprises of more than 18,000 islands. People inhabit about 6,000 of them. The most important islands of Indonesia are Java, Bali, Borneo, Sulawesi, and Sumatra. If you travel from island to island you might notice they can be quite different. Not just with different ethnic groups of different looks, culture, and language. But because Indonesia is bridge between Asia and Australia there are significant differences in fauna and flora between some islands. Naturalists who studied these differences outlined imaginary lines between these islands thus defining a zoogeographic transition zone called Wallacea.

 

The highest number of active volcanoes

As of February 2018 out of the 147 Indonesian volcanoes, 120 were active and three of them in a state of eruption. Because the country is located on the “Ring of fire” Indonesians are used to earthquakes and unpredictable moods of volcanoes. As a tourist you might be able to climb most of the non-active ones but also some still smoking volcanoes. Among them Bromo and Kawah Ijen (the one with a famous sulfur mine), both located on the island of Java.

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