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IndonesiaThe name Indonesia comes from the Greek words: Indos, meaning "Indian" and nesos, which means "islands."

WARNING: Terrorist threats continue in Indonesia, please read this travel warning before going!


Although ethnically and culturally similar, the people of Indonesia only have one true unifying factor, which is that their way of life is and always has been based on geography. As a nation consisting of thousands of islands the people are and have been divided over time, leaving each island to establish its own culture, way of life, foods, and linguistic dialects. Among the similarities across the country, ethnicity and religion are the most important as majority of the people today are Muslim.

The islands of Indonesia vary in size, population, and geography as some are quite fertile, others somewhat dry, and others nothing but volcanic rock. Each also has differing plants and animals as well as nearby sea conditions and currents. All of these factors have made each island fairly unique and some islands, such as Borneo and Sumatra are so large they have dozens of cultures on each. These differences are what make Indonesia the country it is today.

The two colors on Indonesia's flag represent courage (red) and purity (white). The colors are taken from the flag of the Majapahit Empire, which ruled from the 1200s to the 1400s.

Name: Republic of Indonesia
Independence: August 17, 1945
Capital: Jakarta
Currency: Rupiah
Population: 251,160,124 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Javanese, Sundanese, & others
Language: Bahasa Indonesian
Religion: Muslim

Today the people on most of the islands continue to live in a manner similar to the way they have in the past: living off of the land and the sea. However, there are growing changes in the country; for example, on some of the larger islands cities have arisen and urbanization is occurring at a fairly rapid pace. This urbanization and changes in technology, communication, and transportation have made cities in Indonesia the new immigration centers as this is where the jobs are being created.

While life now is similar to what it was in the past for many people, urbanization is slowly changing, and driving changes in the culture. Today all the diversity is becoming slowly muted as technology is creating a more unified and homogenous culture. Through this process many people are abandoning their past way of life for economic opportunities or are forgetting cultural aspects of their island in exchange for a more uniform culture throughout the islands. Many aspects of the local cultures and linguistic dialects are being abandoned for the comfort and ease of life in the modern age, which is giving the country a much more unifying culture, but is also a country losing much of its rural past.

Although the people are becoming more similar culturally and linguistically, from an occupational viewpoint, there is only a shift in percentages as more people are working in cities to take industrial or business jobs, leaving life farming or fishing behind. However, these villages and farms are still occupied and the working population continues to survive in many rural areas. While in some ways the culture is becoming more uniform, in other ways the lifestyle and economic opportunities are growing further and further apart from rural to urban setting.

Learn More About Indonesia:

The Land:
Geography WeatherWildlife

The Past:
History Architecture

The Food:
FoodSpecialtiesDining Etiquette Drinks

The Culture:
Way of Life EthnicityLanguage ReligionDress BehaviorIdentity

Map of Indonesia:

Indonesia Map

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Information for Indonesia was last updated: November, 2012 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks