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Population of Indonesia


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 usage of the Bahasa Indonesia, the national language, and Pancasila, the national philosophy, which stresses the doctrine of unity and universal justice for all Indonesians.



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%.


242,325,638 (2011). 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.

According the Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) in 2010 13.33% of the population was poor or below the national poverty line (garis kemiskinan), down from 14.15% in 2009. The government statistics agency calculated 29.89 million poor in 2011.

Education levels are low as Indonesians spend only 5.8 years in formal schooling, on average (11/2011).

The official language is Bahasa Indonesia. The written and spoken form is based on the Malay trade dialect which was 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.