Country Profile: Indonesia Country Profile: Indonesia

Indonesia is one of the most picturesque, naturally beautiful, and culturally rich nations on earth, and yet this Southeast Asian country of 1,000 islands that stretches nearly to Australia is so vast and diverse that it defies simple explanation. Even their national motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika,” or literally translated as, “Unity in Diversity” or “Many as one” speaks to that multi-culturalism.

It’s also a must-see for travelers, adventure lovers, yogis, and island enthusiasts, still a “best-kept secret” for Americans (but not for Australians!).

Here is your profile of Indonesia with everything you need to know to visit:

Country name: Republic of Indonesia

Land mass: Indonesia is spread out over 1,000 islands encompassing 742,308 square miles (or 1.9 million sq km). However, it’s centered among five major islands and then 30 clusters of smaller island groups.

Indonesia sits in the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanic eruptions and earthquakes – often leading to tsunamis – are commonplace. In fact, they have 400 volcanos in the country, 130 of which are active, and experience more than one major eruption every year!

Population: Indonesia is the 4th most populous countries on earth withabout 240 million residents, behind only China, India, and the United States.

Capital city: Jakarta, the capital, is one of the world’s few mega-cities, and the second-most populated urban area on earth with more than 30 million residents!

Religion: Islam. In fact, Indonesia has the largest Islamic population of any country in the world (about 87%Islamic). While freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Indonesian constitution, but they only officially recognize five other languages outside of Islam: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

Major languages: Indonesian is chiefly spoken in the country, but there are still an astounding 300 regional languages and dialects spoken!

Money: The unit of currency in Indonesia is the Rupiah.One U.S. dollar is equivalent to 14,430 Rupiahs.

Indonesia boasts a vibrant and fast-growing economy, and the largest in Southeast Asia with a GDP of $867 billion, which makes it the 16th largest in the entire world. The average per capita income is about $5,000 USD.

History and independence:
The islands that form modern-day Indonesia were always important trading stops for cross-Pacific routes throughout history, and the early kingdoms were rich and relatively sophisticated. The Dutch East India Company first landed in Indonesia in 1602 and colonization by the Dutch soon followed. The country was briefly occupied by Japan during WWII, and claimed their national independence in 1945, achieving it in 1949 after a long struggle.

In 2014, Indonesian voters elected Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as their President, who is considered relatively progressive and “a man of the people,” as his father was a humble furniture maker.

Tourism is a huge part of the Indonesian economy, although relegated to certain islands and popular vacation islands, like Bali. In fact, tourism contributed about $17 billion USD to Indonesia’s GDP last year from about 12.2 million visitors – a significant 15% increase over the year before. Travelers come for the pristine beaches, cultural heritage, world-class SCUBA diving in the protected marine sanctuaries, and scenic hillsides and forests.

They drive on the left side of the road in Indonesia.