10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Indonesia
1. Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands but only 6,000 are inhabited
Many people only know about Indonesia’s famous tourist destination, Bali, but not many other facts about Indonesia. Did you know that it is the largest archipelago in the world? The five biggest islands are New Guinea, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Java. But 55% of the population (148 million) live on the island of Java.
2. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world
Islam started spreading in Indonesia in the 13th century by Arab traders and Islamic scholars. Now 86.7% (225 million) Indonesians are Muslim. The other major religions are Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
3. Indonesian is the national language but there are also 800 other local languages
Indonesia adopted Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian) as the official language after they gained independence in 1945. Only 43 million people consider Bahasa Indonesia as their native language while the other 156 million use it as their second language. Other major languages are Javanese and Sundanese.
4. Indonesians eat rice for every meal
Indonesians have a saying “If you haven’t eaten rice, you haven’t eaten.” They can have a full meal but if there isn’t rice, it’s not complete. Most Indonesian farmers (77%) grow rice and 60% of rice production is grown on the island of Java.
5. Their motto is Unity in Diversity
Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries in the world with many cultural and religious backgrounds. In order to promote unity and tolerance among the different groups, Indonesia’s founding fathers made Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) as the national motto.
6. Bali is majority Hindu
Bali is the #1 tourist destination in Indonesia known for its unique surfing beaches. Most Balinese are practicing Hindus unlike the rest of Indonesia. The major holiday they celebrate is Hari Nyepi (Day of Silence.) On this day they don’t speak, use electricity or work. It is also the Hindu New Year so they use this day to practice stillness and reflection.
7. Indonesia gained their independence in 1945
The Dutch had influence over Indonesia for 347 years. Then in 1942 Japan declared war against the Dutch and gained control over Indonesia for 3 years. After the Dutch regained control in 1945, Indonesia declared independence from them. There are still many traces of Dutch influence today through the Indonesian architecture, language, and culture.
8. The Komodo Dragon originated from Indonesia
The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest lizard and reptile. They originated from the Komodo Island, and surrounding islands in Indonesia and thrive in tropical forests. There are 2,500 Komodo Dragons in the Komodo National Park. This island is a top tourist destination for the beautiful beaches and views, but mainly people come here to get a close up (and risky) look at the Komodo Dragons.
9. Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire
Indonesia has 147 volcanoes which make up part of the Ring of Fire. Some of the largest volcanic eruptions on earth took place in Indonesia. The largest eruption recorded by humans was Mount Tambora on Sumbawa island in 1815.
10. Indonesian traditional fabric is called Batik
Batik is made by drawing a unique design with wax on a cloth then dyeing the fabric with different colors. The process to finish one cloth usually takes 2-6 months. Each area of Indonesia has their own unique Batik design and colors so you can tell where it came from depending on the look!