Living in Indonesia, A Site for Expatriates

Check out What's New on the Expat Web Site
Information for foreigners moving to Indonesia

Home » Practical Information »

Barong maskOverview of Indonesia

Practical Information for foreigners, expats and expatriates moving to Indonesia - find out about housing, schooling, transport, shopping and more to prepare you for your stay in Indonesia

 

Translate this Page

Bookmark and Share
Links to hundreds of articles giving practical information for expats moving to Indonesia
Post your questions or communicate with other expats in Indonesia on the Expat Forum
Looking for a place to stay in Indonesia - check out the Housing Forum
Looking for a weekend or holiday getaway ... visit some of Indonesia's Great Escapes
Some great restuarants in Jakarta
Advice and resources for conducting business in Indonesia
Info on expatriate community organizations in Indonesia
Shops, Products and Services
Links to other useful Indonesian or expat-related web sites
Expat Humor - spread the joys of Living in Indonesia through e-postcards
Site Map
Return to the Home Page
expatriate information for Indonesia

The People The Land The Language The Government Economic Factors

THE PEOPLE

Unity in Diversity

The Indonesian national motto “Unity in Diversity” points to one of the greatest attractions of your host country, Indonesia. There are some 300 ethnic groups, a result of both the country's unique geography and history. Many Indonesians may see themselves first by their ethnic and cultural group and secondly as Indonesians. The glue that binds the people together is the Balinese dancerusage of the Bahasa Indonesia, the national language, and Pancasila, the national philosophy, which stresses the doctrine of unity and universal justice for all Indonesians.

Ethnicity

The majority of Indonesians are of Malay extraction. The remainder of the “pribumi” (natives) are Melanesian (in Papua and the eastern islands). There are ethnic Chinese, Indians and Arabs concentrated mostly in urban areas throughout the archipelago. Major Ethnic groups: Javanese - 45%, Sundanese - 14%, Madurese - 7.5%, Coastal Malays - 7.5%, and others - 26%.

Population

246,900,000 (2012). Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world after China, India and the United States. Over two thirds of the population resides in Java, the center of the country's economic and political power. Visit the UNICEF website for some very interesting statistics covering population, health, economics, etc. The annual population growth rate was 1.7% in 2011 (ADB).

2011 figures show that 12.5% of the population lived below the national poverty line (garis kemiskinan).

Education levels are low as Indonesians spend only 5.8 years in formal schooling, on average (2011).

Density

bajaj vehicles in JakartaIndonesia's population problems center mostly around the issue of population density. Together with the adjoining smaller islands of Madura and Bali, Java accounts for just over 7% of the Indonesia land area, but these islands are populated by some 135 million inhabitants. The population of the special district of Jakarta was 10,187,595 as of November 2011.

By contrast, the province of Papua represents 22% of the total land mass, yet has only 1% of the population. The total population of the island of Sulawesi was over 16 million in 2005. So vast areas of Indonesia have very low population levels ... while the majority of the people live in the island of Java and Bali.

Religion

About 88% of the population is Muslim. Roughly 10% is Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic)overview of indonesia and approximately 2% is Hindu and Buddhist. All five of these religions are formally recognized in Indonesia and have official national holidays commemorating events of importance to their followers. While the country is predominantly Muslim, the government is secular and therefore is not based on a single religion. Read about religious holidays in Indonesia.

Family Planning

A comprehensive family planning program has seen Indonesia's annual population growth rate fall from 2.3 percent in 1972 to around 1.6 percent in 1996.

THE LAND

Map of the Republic of Indonesia

Geography

Indonesians refer to their homeland as Tanah Air Kita, which means “Our Land and Water.” This refers to its geographical makeup consisting of 18,108 islands (based on 2003 satellite imaging data by the Aviation and Space Institute) with a total land mass of 1.91 million square kilometers connected by six seas covering more than 3 million square kilometers.

About 6,000 islands are inhabited with Java accounting for more than half the nation's population. Satellite imaging Analysis has also showed that Indonesia has a coastline of 108,920 kilometers (68,075 miles) and a total of 20,731 square kilometers (82,924 miles) of reefs.

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world extending some 2,000 kilometers from cNorth to South and more than 5,000 kilometers from East to West. The archipelago stretches over more than one-tenth of the Equator between Southeast Asia and Australia. The largest islands are the Kalimantan provinces on Borneo, Sumatra, Papua, Sulawesi and Java (where Jakarta is located).

Nearly 60 percent of Indonesia's land is forested and a significant portion is mountainous and volcanic. The highest point is Puncak Jaya in Papua, which is 5,030 meters tall. Some other mountains on Sumatra and Papua exceed 3,000 meters in height. Mt. Merapi, near Yogyakarta, is regarded as the most volatile of Indonesia's 500 volcanoes, 129 of which are still active. Java alone has 112 volcanoes. Centuries of volcanic activity has led to high degree of soil fertility on Java and Bali, which accounts in part for the high concentration of agriculture and people on these two islands.

Administrative Divisions

Indonesia is divided into 30 provinces, which include 2 special regions and 1 special capital city district which are further sub-divided into smaller entities of districts, sub-districts, villages and neighborhoods. They are:

Bali, Banten, Bangka-Belitung, Bengkulu, Gorontalo, Jambi, Jawa Barat, Jawa Tengah, Jawa Timur, Kalimantan Barat, Kalimantan Selatan, Kalimantan Tengah, Kalimantan Timur, Lampung, Maluku, North Maluku, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Papua, Riau Kepulauan, Sulawesi Selatan, Sulawesi Tengah, Sulawesi Tenggara, Sulawesi Utara, Sumatra Barat, Sumatra Selatan and Sumatra Utara.
The two special regions are Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam at the northern tip of Sumatra and Yogyakarta in Central Java. The special capital city district is Jakarta (DKI).

The former province of East Timor became independent of Indonesia in 1999 after a UN-sponsored referendum was held. It is now an independent country called Timor Lorosa'e.

Largest Cities

Jakarta, with a population of over 9.5 million, Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Surakarta (Solo), Medan, Padang, Palembang, Ujung Pandang, Banjarmasin, Bandar Lampung and Manado.c

Climate

Mostly equatorial. The temperature ranges between 16-35 degrees Celsius (61-91 degrees F) with humidity ranging from 60-90 percent. There are two seasons, the rainy monsoon season which usually lasts from November through May, followed by the dry season which usually lasts from June through October. Rainfall varies throughout Indonesia, averaging 706 mm (28 inches) yearly.

overview of indonesia

THE LANGUAGE

The official language is Bahasa Indonesia. The written and spoken form is based on the Malay trade dialect which cwas used throughout the region in the past. Bahasa Indonesia is a strong unifying factor in a country where more than 300 distinct regional languages are still spoken. Bahasa Indonesia is not a difficult language to learn and many expatriates quickly learn the language sufficiently to succeed in meeting every day needs. More formal Bahasa Indonesia is expected to be used in high level business meetings. Newspapers and television news use formal Bahasa Indonesia.

English may be spoken in international and high level business contexts in large cities. You may be able to converse with some Indonesians in Jakarta in English. In rural areas it may be difficult to find people who speak English, unless the locale is a widely visited tourist destination. Many employees of international hotels and limousine drivers speak English. You may have difficulty finding an English speaking taxi driver or household staff.

Dutch may be understood by older Indonesians, who may have attended Dutch schools.

overview of indonesia

THE GOVERNMENT

The Republic of Indonesia

Indonesia is a republic with political power organized around the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Indonesia declared independence from the Netherlands and Japan on August 17, 1945.c

Pancasila

Pancasila, the Five Principles, is the basic philosophy of the government. These principles are: Belief in one God, Just and civilized humanity, the Unity of Indonesia, Democracy led by the wisdom of deliberations among representatives, and Social Justice for all Indonesian citizens.

The Executive Branch

The President is the chief of state and head of Government. The President is also the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The current President of Indonesia is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his Vice President is Jusuf Kalla. Their election was the first-ever direct election for President in Indonesia's history, where voters were actually able to choose a person and not a party.

The Legislative Branch

House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or DPR). While previous DPR were dominated by members of the Golkar party, representatives of many parties currently serve in the DPR after the democratic elections held several times since 1998/1999. The People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawarakatan Rakyat or MPR) includes the DPR members in addition to 500 indirectly elected and appointed members.

The Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court is called Mahkamah Agung.

The Legal System

The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law. This has been substantially enhanced and modified over the years to cater to indigenous concepts and new criminal procedures code being enacted every year.

Political Organizations

During the later part of the “New Order” government of President Soeharto, Indonesia only recognized three legal political organizations: Golkar - the ruling political organization, PPP - the Muslim backed Development Unity Party, and PDI - the Indonesian Democratic Party.

Since the fall of the Soeharto Regime in 1998, many new political parties have been formed, with 48 parties participating in the 1999 elections for parliamentary representation and 38 parties participating in the 2009 elections.

overview of indonesia

ECONOMIC FACTORS

Currency

The currency of Indonesia is the Rupiah (IDR). The currency rates "float" and the rate varies along with a myriad of economic factors.

See the Indonesian Rupiah Currency Converter on our banking page for current info.

Growth Rate

The economic growth rate was 5.78% in 2013. Indonesia's economy in 2013 grew at its slowest pace in four years, the statistics bureau said on Wednesday, as the end of a commodities boom undermined exports and higher interest rates dragged on consumption. Gross domestic product rose 5.78 percent in 2013, after a 6.23 percent increase in 2012 and marking the slowest growth since 2009. The result compared with the median forecast of 5.7 percent growth in a Reuters poll of economists. Southeast Asia's biggest economy has enjoyed annual growth of more than 6 percent in recent years, underpinned by spending among its growing middle class. (Joyo News Service)

Inflation is currently under control with 2014 growth projected at 5.8-6 %, although others have lower estimates,  Foreign reserves grew to $100 billion in January and the rupiah's value has also improved in recent months.

Per Capita Income

The per capita income, was US$ 3,563 in 2012 (World Bank)

c

Mineral Resources

Oil and natural gas, coal, tin, copper, nickel ore, bauxite, copper, coal, silver, and gold.

Main Agricultural Products

Rice, palm oil, coffee, tea, spices, cassava, peanuts, cocoa, copra, sugar, natural rubber, shrimp and fish, poultry, beef, and eggs.

Main Manufactured Products

Plywood, textiles, garments, shoes, processed rubber, processed food, electrical/electronic goods, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

 

Enjoy this History of Indonesia (Dutch)

Housing and schooling information for expats in Indonesia expatriate website for Indonesia Indonesian language translation of article

Practical Information for foreigners, expats and expatriates moving to Indonesia - find out about housing, schooling, transport, shopping and more to prepare you for your stay in Indonesia

Practical Information |  Expat Forum |  Site Map  |  Search |  Home Page |  Contact

 

Return to top

Copyright © 1997-2014, Expat Web Site Association Jakarta, Indonesia http://www.expat.or.id All rights reserved. The information on Living in Indonesia, A Site for Expatriates may not be retransmitted or reproduced in any form without permission. This information has been compiled from sources which we, the Expat Web Site Association and volunteers related to this site, believe to be reliable. While reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the facts are accurate and up-to-date, opinions and commentary are fair and reasonable, we accept no responsibility for them. The information contained does not make any recommendation upon which you can rely without further personal consideration and is not an offer or a solicitation to buy any products or services from us. Opinions and statements constitute the judgment of the contributors to this web site at the time the information was written and may change without notice.