10 Facts About Indonesia

Interesting Things you May Not Know About Indonesia

Lake Toba and Pulaua Samosir in Sumatra, Indonesia
••• Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Greg Rodgers

Not sure where to go in Southeast Asia? These 10 interesting facts about Indonesia will have you checking flight prices!

Although Bali, a top honeymoon spot in Asia, gets plenty of attention and tourism, most people don't know much about the rest of Indonesia.

Interesting Indonesia Facts

  1. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world (255.4 million people per a 2015 estimate). Indonesia is only surpassed in population by China, India, and the United States. Population growth in Indonesia is around 1.9 percent, considerably high compared to other countries in the region.
  1. Indonesia is the world's most populous Islamic nation. Many islands and villages in Indonesia were visited by missionaries and converted to Christianity. Old superstitions and animist beliefs of evil spirits weren't totally abandoned but were instead blended with Christianity. Bali, an exception, is predominantly Hindu.
  2. Although the official count varies each year as new islands are claimed, Indonesia is spread across an archipelago of thousand of islands. The CIA World Factbook claims that Indonesia has 17,508 islands, meanwhile the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space counted an estimated 18,307 islands back in 2002. Of all those islands, only around 922 are thought to be permanently settled. The most recent survey conducted by an Indonesian agency put the count at 13,466 with an estimated 8,844 of those islands named.
  3. Although far more behaved in modern times, there are still living headhunters in Indonesia. Some families have even kept their grandfather's 'trophies' stored in closets in modern-day homes. An estimated 44 of the world's 107 uncontacted tribes are thought to be living in Papua, a province in the very east of Indonesia.
  1. The world's largest volcanic lake, Lake Toba, is in Sumatra. The explosive eruption that formed the lake is thought to have been a catastrophic event that resulted in 1,000 years of cooler temperatures on earth due to the amount of debris thrown into the atmosphere.
  2. A new island, Pulau Samosir, has formed in the center of Lake Toba and is home to the Bataks -- former headhunters. The island is an adventurous place frequented by backpackers in search of adventure.
  1. Indonesia is the only place in the world to see the Komodo dragon in the wild. The two most popular islands for seeing Komodo dragons are Rinca Island and Komodo Island. Both islands are a part of East Nusa Tenggara province between Flores and Sumbawa.
  2. Sumatra is the only place other than Borneo to see wild orangutans. An easy place for travelers to possibly see Sumatran orangutans living in the jungle is Gunung Leuser National Park near the village of Bukit Lawang.
  3. The language in Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia) is very similar to Bahasa Melayu spoken in Malaysia. Both share the expression 'running amok' which means, "to behave in a frenzied, out-of-control, unrestrained manner."
  4. More than 700 languages and dialects are spoken across the Indonesian archipelago. Papua, just one province, has over 270 spoken dialects.

Traveling to Indonesia

The usual entry point for travelers who want to visit Indonesia is Bali; cheap flights can be found from major hubs in Asia and Australia.

Bali is roughly in the center of the archipelago. Other airports may be better options if you intend to visit distant or remote places.

Before you go, see these travel essentials for Indonesia and read about risks such as drinking arak, a local spirit responsible for the deaths of many travelers each year.