Indonesia is an incredible country, yet most people don’t seem to know that much about it. If you’ve ever wondered about this island nation you will definitely want to read on to get to know Indonesia in 10 Facts.
1. Its name is Latin and Greek
The name Indonesia comes from the Latin word Indus and the Greek word nesos meaning ‘Indian island’. The reason being that Indonesia was originally called the Indian Archipelago or East Indies Islands. Because both are quite long, English ethnologist George Windsor Earl, proposed the terms Indunesians for the inhabitants of the Indian Archipelago. In a published paper one of his students, James Richardson Logan, used Indonesia as a synonym for Indian Archipelago.
2. It’s Massive!
Most people don’t realize that Indonesia is a huge country. It takes over 12 hours to fly from North Sumatra in the East to West Papua. The total land area is 1,919,440 square kilometers, which is almost 8 times the size of the UK.
3. It’s Made Up of A LOT of Islands!
Indonesia’s enormous amount of land mass is actually made up of over 18,000 islands. This makes it the largest archipelago in the world and also ensures you can never get tired of exploring the country.
The most famous of these islands is probably Bali, where upwards of 5 million foreign tourists visit every year.
4. It Has So Much Coastline!
Thanks to all the islands, Indonesia has the second longest coastline in the world after Canada. The country’s 54,000 kilometers of coasts encompass everything from towering cliffs, to pristine beaches, and even cityscapes of coastal cities like the capital Jakarta.
5. It’s Been Inhabited for at Least A Million Years
Some of the world’s oldest fossilized remains have been found on the island of Java. The first find, often referred to as Java man, are somewhere between 700,000 and 1 million years old. Since the late 1800’s many more have been found that could be even older. This means Indonesia has been inhabited for at least 1 million years!
5. It’s a Volcanologists Dream
Indonesia is home to 127 active volcanoes. This may sound scary, but in fact many, like Mount Bromo in Java, and Mount Agung in Bali attract tourists from all over the world. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. Visitors should be aware of volcanic warnings and safe zones before visiting any of the active volcanoes in Indonesia.
6. It is Extremely Culturally Diverse
Spread across Indonesia’s 18,000 islands are over 300 ethnic groups. Each group has their own customs and traditions. While traveling in Indonesia you may see all kinds of amazing cultural sights like the Balinese Hindu processions, the extraordinary freediving Bajau people in Sulawesi, or the wonderful crafts of the Sasak people in Lombok.
7. Its People Speak Over 700 Languages
Within these hundreds of ethnic groups there are hundreds more indigenous languages – over 700 to be precise. Indonesian is the national language, but most Indonesians also speak at least one other language. The majority of people speak Indonesian at school or work and then speak their mother tongue or indigenous language at home.
8. It Has UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Indonesia is home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 4 of these are natural wonders – Komodo National Park, Lorentz National Park, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra and Ujung Kulon National Park. The other 4 are cultural sites – Borobudur Temple, Bali’s Subak System, Prambanan Temple, and the Sangiran Early Man Site.
These sites are all fantastic to visit and will give you a wonderful insight into the history of this incredible archipelago.
9. It Has Biodiversity Galore
Indonesia possesses 10% of the world’s flowering plants, about 12% of the world’s mammals, 16% of the world’s reptiles, and 35 species of primate. Birdwatchers will be happy to know that 17% of the total species of birds also live in Indonesia.
Indonesia also ticks all the boxes with divers who often have places like Raja Ampat on their bucket lists. This is because it has 75% of the world’s species of coral and 1,400 species of fish, there is really nowhere on our globe with more to see underwater.
10. It was Part of a Major Real Estate Deal
On September 8, 1664, while most of Indonesia was under Dutch rule, Director General of New Netherland Pieter Stuyvesant made arguably the most famous real estate deal in history. He traded the rights of a little island called New Amsterdam for the even smaller island of Run in the Banda Sea with the British. New Amsterdam’s name was changed to New York and the rest is history… So, if it hadn’t been for the tiny Indonesian island of Run, New York might have remained a Dutch colony.
Did You Learn Something About Indonesia?
I hope you learned a little something new about Indonesia and that it maybe piqued your interest to visit this beautiful part of the world. Were any of these facts totally new to you? Let us know in the comments below.