Country information: Indonesia

  • captial: Jakarta
  • area: 1.912.988 km²
  • population: ­~ 230 Mio inhabitants
  • population density: 118 inhabitants / km²
  • religion : Muslim ~ 88%, Christians ~8%, Hindus ~2%
  • language : Indonesian
  • currency: Rupiah
  • form of government: presidential republic
  • national day: 17th of August (independence)
  • climate: tropic, humid, hot
  • unemployment: ~9,7%

Extent of the Country

Indonesia has an area of 1.912.988 km² and consists of more than 17.000 islands. The country extends about 1.875 km from North to South and about 5000 km from West to East. Indonesia borders the Indian Ocean in the South-West. Bordering countries in the North are Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Palau. Papua New Guinea and East Timor border Indonesia in the East and in the South it is Australia.


Indonesia has a population of about 230 million people and therefore is the forth most populous country in the world. The annual increase of population mounts up to 2%. More than the half of all inhabitants live on the main island Java which makes up 6,6% of the total area of Indonesia. There are about 30 main ethnic groups in Indonesia:

  • Javanese (41,7%)
  • Sudanese (15,4%)
  • Malaise (3,4%)
  • Madurese (3,3%)
  • Batak (3,0%)
  • Minangkabau (2,7%)
  • Betawi (2,5%)
  • Bugis (2,5%)

The biggest minorities are Indonesians with a Chinese ( about 4 millions), Indian and Arabic descent.


Approximately 88% of the population are Muslims, 8% Christians, 2% Hindus, 1% Buddhists and 1% belong to natural religions.


The official language in Indonesia is Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia). For many people it is only the second language since there are hundreds of regional languages. With about 200 million speakers, Indonesian belongs to the mostly spoken languages of the world.


Indonesia is characterized through two tropical seasons. The dry season starts in April and ends in October. The rainy season starts in October and ends in April. In the Western part of Indonesia are all-season rainfalls, whereas it is rather dry in the Eastern part. The average temperature lies between 25 and 27 degrees. However, there can be variations of temperature from 6 to 12 degrees within 24 hours.


The island Java has already been settled 1,8 million years ago. The inhabitants of Indonesia mainly descend from Mongolic-Caucasian peoples.

  • 5th century: first Buddhist influences
  • from the 7th century: Buddhist kingdom of Srivijava on Sumatra
  • from the 8th century: Buddhist Sailendra-dynasty
  • from the 15th century: increase of Arabic merchants and the beginning of conversion to the Islam in various regions of Indonesia.
  • 1498: Vasco da Gama discovers the sea route to India. Consequence: Europeans were not allowed to enter Indonesian areas.
  • 1602: foundation of the united Dutch East-Indian company. Beginning of the colonial rule of the Netherlands over Indonesia.
  • 1799: the Dutch government takes over the colony
  • 1908: Extension of the colony over the complete Indonesian islands
  • March 1942: Japan occupies Indonesia
  • March 1943: Indonesia declares its independence
  • 15th of August 1945: Japan capitulates
  • 17th of August 1945: Independence of Indonesia. First president of the republic of Indonesia is Achmed Sukarno.
  • 1947/48: War Netherlands – Indonesia
  • 27th of December 1949: sovereignty of Indonesia
  • 17th of August 1950: change from federal into a centralized state
  • 1965: after a failed putsch, the General Haji Mohamed Suharto commits a massacre to communists from which nearly 1 million people died
  • 1967: Suharto accepts the office of the president
  • 1998: economic crisis and first protests according to violent series in Jarkarta -> president Suharto steps back
  • 1999: Abdurrahman Wahid becomes the first elected state president
  • 2001: the daughter of Sukarno, Megawati Sukarnoputri, accepts the office of the president
  • 12th of October 2002: Islamic terrorist attack on the island Bali
  • 2004: Susilo Bambang wins the first direct presidential elections

Economy and politics

Nearly the half of the population of Indonesia works in agriculture. They produce palm oil, rice, peanuts, cacao and coffee. A quarter of the Indonesian population lives below the level of poverty.

Although the economic system of Indonesia has market structures, many huge companies are state-owned. The country has many natural resources which many multinational companies take advantage of. West Papua has the largest gold mine in the world. Besides gold, especially liquid natural gas, copper, wooden products, textiles and minerals are exported. Tourism is also an important source of income. Many tourists are from Australia, USA and Europe. However, the number of tourists has decreased due to repeated bombings and terror warnings in recent years.

Political Situation

  • 27th of December 1949: independence of Indonesia
  • 1998: many reforms
  • Introduction of 500 representatives who are elected for 5 years
  • Indonesia is divided into 30 provinces, 2 special regions and the main district Jakarta. The establishment of new provinces is planned.