Skip to Content
Advanced Search



/files/Images/Country Flags and Maps/Indonesia Overview.gif

(Download this overview as a PDF)


  • Total population: 228,437,870 (Ranked 4th in the world by the US Census Bureau).
  • National GDP: US $602 billion (1998).
  • GDP per capita: US $2,830.
  • Median Age: 25.1.
  • Infant Mortality: 55.36 per 1,000 live births.


  • Location: Group of Islands near the equator south east of the Asian mainland.
  • Borders: Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.
  • Area: 741,100 square miles.
  • Topography: Mostly tropical, coastal lowlands with the larger islands having interior plateaus and mountains.
  • Climate: Tropical; hot, humid.
  • Capital: Jakarta.
  • Major cities and population: Jakarta 11,018,000, Bandung 3,409,000, Surabajs 2,461,000.
  • 23 provinces (propinsi-propinsi, singular - propinsi): Bali, Bengkulu, Irian Jaya, Jambi, Jawa Barat, Jawa Tengah, Jawa Timur, Kalimantan Barat, Kalimantan Selatan, Kalimantan Tengah, Kalimantan Timur, Lampung, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Riau, Sulawesi Selatan, Sulawesi Tengah, Sulawesi Tenggara, Sulawesi Utara, Sumatera Barat, Sumatera Selatan, Sumatera Utara, note - there may be a new province named Maluku Utara.
  • 2 special regions: Aceh and Yogyakarta.
  • 1 special capital city district: Jakarta Raya.


  • Population density: 303 per square mile.
  • Children 0-14: 30.3%—69,118,581.
  • Teenage 10-19: 19.4%—44,247,544.
  • Youth between 15-24: 19.6%—44,744,048.
  • Seniors Over 70: 2.5%—5,787,909.
  • Male to female ratio: 99.7 males per 100 females.
  • Birth rate: 22.60 per 1,000 people.
  • Life expectancy at birth: 61.06 for males and 65.77 for females.
  • Infant mortality rate: 55.36 per 1,000 live births.
  • Official language: Bahasa Indonesian.
  • Principal languages: English, Dutch, Javanese.
  • Ethnic groups: 45% Javanese, 14% Sundanese, 7.5% Madurese, coastal 7.5% Malays, other 26%
  • Religious affiliations: 54.7% Muslim (116,105,310), 21.8% New-Religionist (46,234,714), 13.1% Christian (27,804,116), 3.4% Hindu (7,258,687), 2.5% Ethnoreligionist (5,334,395), and 1.9 % Chinese folk-religionist (4,106,941). Less than 1% Buddhist, Atheist, Baha’i, and Jew.
  • Education: Compulsory from 7-16.
  • Literacy rate: 84%.


  • Currency: Rupiah.
  • GDP per capita: US $2,830.
  • National GDP: US $602 billion (1998).
  • Major Industries: Oil, gas, food processing, textiles, cement, mining.
  • Chief crops: Rice, cocoa, peanuts, rubber.
  • Electricity production: 73.13 billion kWh (1998).
  • TV Sets: 134 per 1,000 people.
  • Radios: 128 per 1,000 people.
  • Telephones: 6,080,200 main lines.
  • Daily newspaper circulation: 23 per 1,000.


  • Government type: Republic.
  • Head of state and government: President Abdurrahman Wahid.
  • International organization memberships: United Nations (UN), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Group (APEC), Association fo Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Organization of the Oil Producing Countries (OPEC).
  • Historical Background: 2,000 years ago and earlier, people from all over southeast Asia—including Hindu and Buddhist civilizations—migrated into the many islands known today as Indonesia. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Islam spread through the archipelago by way of the merchant trade routes and eventually dominated the culture. By 1750, the Netherlands had established territorial control. In 1949, after a brief Japanese rule during World War II, Indonesia achieved independence from the Netherlands. In recent times Indonesia has faced a variety of obstacles. In 1998, economic problems fueled protests resulting in the resignation of long time president, General Suharto. Violent clashes between Muslims and Christians on Maluku Island have claimed over 2,500 lives. Plus, in East Timor, the fight for independence from Indonesia has spawned uprisings between pro-Indonesia and pro-independence factions.


Understanding the trends and social issues of a particular country should always take into consideration the opinions of persons within the country. We are looking for contributors to add to our appreciation and understanding of Indonesian culture, potential, trends and critical issues.

The world press has reported on the conflicts regarding the difficulties facing President Abdurrahman Wahid elected in 1999 by the People’s Consultive Assembly. Some of the issues include: the regional, ethnic, religious an economic tensions in East Timor, Jakarta and the Aceh and Irian Jaya regions, the alleged human rights violations by the Indonesian military, the transition to elected government from the recently abandoned dictator system, and the economic concerns including the newly mandated banking reforms.





Barrett, D., Kurian, G., & Johnson, T. (2001). World Christian Encyclopedia 2nd Edition: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World. Oxford: University Press.


McGeveran, Jr., W. (Ed.). (2001). The World Almanac and Book of Facts. Mahwah, NJ: World Almanac Books.


Turner, B. (2000). The World Today: Essential Facts in an Ever Changing World 2000. New York, NY: St. Marten’s Press.


"Indonesia, Republic of," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001 © 1997-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.   

US Census Bureau, International Database.


US Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook.



  1. How important do you see Indonesia’s role in Asia and in the world?
  2. What most impresses you about the above information?
  3. Do you take issue with any of the above? If so, how would you express it differently?
  4. What strikes you most about the population of Indonesia and the percentage of children? Why?
  5. What do you see as the historical and cultural contributions of Indonesians to the world?
  6. How has Indonesia handled its role in OPEC?
  7. What can we learn from Indonesia and the Indonesian people?

Tammy Smith cCYS




The Jakarta Post    
Indonesia's leading English Newspaper.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency - The World Fact Book


Bertrand, Jacques (2003). Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in Indonesia. Cambridge University Press.

Ricklefs, M.C. (2002). A History of Modern Indonesia Since C. 1200. Stanford University Press.
This standard work on the history of Indonesia has been thoroughly revised to incorporate the findings of recent research to bring the story up to date. This edition is the first to be illustrated.

Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia : Peoples and Histories. Yale University Press.