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25 Fun Facts About Indonesia

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There are more interesting facts about Indonesia than most people realise. But exactly what makes Indonesia such a fascinating country? Read on to find out…

Fun Facts About Indonesia 

When I think about Indonesia, all I can imagine is the lush-green rainforests, the lovely sound of the sparkling turquoise waters, and obviously, Bali! 

But, what most people don’t imagine is that Indonesia also has many historical UNESCO sites, unusual traditions, and Asia’s most ‘Instagrammed’ city!

So, in this article, let me tell you about both the common and uncommon fun facts about Indonesia.

1. Indonesia Has the Highest Number of Muslims 

25 Fun Facts About Indonesia

This was one of the most surprising fun facts about Indonesia for me! 

Most of us tend to believe that the highest number of Muslims might be in a country from the Middle East. However, it’s not true, as Indonesia has the most number of Muslims.

Presently, there are over 229,000,000 Muslims in Indonesia. This accounts for 87.2% of the total Indonesian population (277,534,122). 

There are five more recognised religions in Indonesia too, such as Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and Confucianism.  

2. The Country Has Over 17,504 Islands

Indonesia is an archipelagic country, which basically means that it’s a group of islands

So, the entire country consists of 17,504 big and small islands, which also makes it the largest archipelago in the world. Out of these, only 6000 islands are inhabited.

Indonesia has five main islands – Java, Sumatra, New Guinea, Sulawesi, and Kalimantan (or Borneo). Also, there are 30 smaller groups of other islands. 

The largest Indonesian island is New Guinea and the smallest one is Simping Island.

3. Indonesia is Home to Around 1300 Ethnic Groups!

Even though Indonesia is simply an archipelago, it’s one of the most diverse countries. People from more than 1300 different ethnic groups reside in Indonesia. 

The largest ethnic groups here include Javanese (40.1%), Sundanese (15.5%), and Malays (3.7%)

It’s almost impossible to list all of the groups, but some other lesser-known groups also include Batak, Madurese, Betawi, Buginese, and Chinese.

4. There Are Over 700+ Languages Being Spoken in Indonesia

Considering the number of ethnic groups, it’s not surprising that Indonesia also has over 700 languages! So, let’s discuss some language-related fun facts about Indonesia.

As there are over 700 languages spoken in Indonesia, it makes up about 10% of the world’s total languages.

Among these languages, the Indonesian language (or Bahasa Indonesia) is the official language. However, the regional language, Javanese is the most popular one in Indonesia.

5. Indonesia Is Home to the Biggest Lizard in the World 

If you’re scared of lizards, these not-so-fun facts about Indonesia might scare you a little bit!

Indonesia is home to Komodo Dragon, the biggest lizard in the world. Forget about lizards, it’s also the largest living lizard in the world! Komodo Dragon weighs around 70 kg (male) or 25 kg (female)

In Indonesia, these lizards are found in Gili Motang, Flores, the Komodo National Park, and other regions of the Lesser Sunda Islands.

6. Indonesia Has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

25 Fun Facts About Indonesia

Let’s talk about some heritage and tourism-related fun facts about Indonesia. 

Indonesia has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which include many ancient ruins, and natural places too. 

The historical sites include the Borobudur Temple Compounds (a Buddhist temple from the 8th and 9th centuries), the Prambanan Temple Compounds (a Hindu temple), and the Sangiran Early Man Site.

There are many stunning natural sites too, such as Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, Komodo National Park, Cultural Landscape of Bali Province, Lorentz National Park, and Ujung Kulon National Park

7. There’s a Cannibal Tribe in Indonesia

There are many tribes living on the Indonesian islands. But, some of these fun facts about Indonesia are going to spook you out for sure!

In West Papua of Indonesia, there’s a tribe named the Korowai tribe, who still practice cannibalism and witchcraft. There was no contact between this tribe and the outside world till the 1970s. 

However, an Italian photojournalist Gianluca Chiodini explored the regions where the tribe lived. He found out that they still eat the flesh of dead humans, who are thought of as being possessed by demons, to protect the tribe!

8. 50% Of Indonesia Is Covered With Rainforests 

If you love nature, these fun facts about Indonesia will make you want to visit the country. 

Indonesia has many islands, and almost 50% of the total combined land is full of rainforests. There are some rainforests that have been explored, but there are many remote ones as well.  

In the 1980s, 80% of Indonesia’s land had rainforests. But, due to rapid human development and deforestation, they got reduced to 50%. 

9. Indonesia Is One of the Most Populated Countries 

Indonesia appears as a small country on the world map, but here are some other fun facts about Indonesia and its population.

Indonesia is the 4th most populous country in the world, right after India, China, and the US! 

Presently, Indonesia’s total population is about 281,982,545.

10. There Are 130 Volcanoes in Indonesia

Where there’s an island, there are bound to be volcanoes! So, let’s discuss some volcano-related fun facts about Indonesia. 

Indonesia stands third in having the most number of volcanoes, after the US and Japan. There are over 130 volcanoes in the country, out of which 80 are still active. 

The reason why Indonesia has so many volcanoes is that it’s located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region with frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

11. Torajans From Indonesia Bring People Back From the Dead!

I love reading up about the different cultural practices from all over the world. Now, these cultural fun facts about Indonesia definitely stood out to me. 

There is an ethnic group, named Torajans, who live in the mountainous areas of Indonesia. These people have a unique death ceremony, as they mummify their loved ones. Then, they continue to take care of the dead by feeding and clothing them, as if the person is still living.  

12. Indonesia Is the World’s Largest Producer and Exporter of Palm Oil

If you’ve eaten Nutella, you might’ve noticed that it consists of Palm Oil. 

Palm Oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is extracted from the oil palms. Now, Indonesia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, as it produces 60% of the world’s palm oil

However, in 2022, Indonesia banned exporting palm oil, which led to a lot of shortages. They later resumed the exports again. 

13. The Bajau People of Indonesia Live In Stilt Houses!

25 Fun Facts About Indonesia

These fun facts about Indonesia simply prove how different the lives of Indonesian people are. 

For instance, the Bajau group of Indonesia (also known as Sea Gypsies) live in stilt houses. These floating houses are built on top of the water and are constructed using either bamboo or wooden stilts. 

The Bajau people prefer living as close as possible to the sea, as their life revolves around fishing and other sea-related activities. 

14. Rice Is a Staple Dish in Indonesia

Let’s talk about some food-based fun facts about Indonesia. 

If you visit Indonesia, you’ll find that rice is the staple dish, and it’s also involved in many other dishes. One of the most popular rice-based dishes is Nasi goreng. In this dish, stir-fried rice is combined with other ingredients, like meat, fish or eggs.

There are other rice-based dishes in Indonesia too, like the nasi lemak (coconut-milk-based rice) and nasi kuning (yellow rice). 

Here’s another quick fun fact: Nasi is the Indonesian word for rice!

15. Indonesia Has Some of the Shortest People!

Now, this isn’t to judge Indonesians, but rather it is a fact that Indonesians are some of the shortest people. 

Indonesia ranks 11th on the list of countries with the shortest people. 

According to statistics, the average height of Indonesians is 158.17cm (5 feet 2.27 inches). Indonesian men have an average height of 163.55cm (5 feet 4.39 inches), whereas women have an average height of 152.79cm (5 feet 0.15 inches).

16. Indonesia Is the Second Most Biodiverse Nation

Indonesia is ahead in many things, and biodiversity is one of them.

After Brazil, Indonesia is the second most biodiverse country in the world. After all, around 12% of the world’s mammals (515 species) live in Indonesia! 

Indonesia also has many species of birds (1806 species) and plants (over 10,000) too. 

17. The Dutch Ruled Over Indonesia for Three Centuries

Most Asian countries were colonised, and Indonesia is no exception. So, let’s discuss some historical fun facts about Indonesia. 

Between the years 1604 and 1945, Indonesia was under the rule of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). After many protests and movements, Indonesians took control back from the Dutch official. 

Indonesia declared independence from the Dutch, in 1945. However, it was only recognized in 1949.

18. Jakarta Is One of the Most Instagrammed Cities!

If you’re an active Instagrammer, these fun facts about Indonesia are for you. 

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is 1st on the list of Asia’s most ‘Instagrammed’ cities. It’s also the 6th most ‘Instagrammed’ city in the world. This is an example of Insta tourism at its finest!

19. Indonesia Has the World’s Largest Flower 

Indonesia doesn’t just have the largest lizard, but the world’s largest flower too!

Rafflesia arnoldii, a rare flower, is endemic to the lush regions of Indonesia, specifically near Lake Maninjau in Sumatra.

This flower has a diameter of one metre (3.3 feet) and weighs around 11 kilograms (24 pounds). It doesn’t have any stem, root, or leaves, as it is parasitic. Also, it is known as the “corpse flower” due to its rotting smell. 

20. Indonesia Has Three Time Zones

25 Fun Facts About Indonesia

Here are some fun facts about Indonesia and its various time zones. 

Most islands don’t have multiple time zones. 

However, as Indonesia is the largest archipelago, its entire area is divided into three time zones. These include – the Indonesia Western Standard Time (WIB), Indonesia Eastern Standard Time (WIT), and Indonesia Central Standard Time (WITA). All of the time zones are just one hour apart. 

21. The Biggest Volcano Lake Is in Indonesia

A volcano lake is simply a lake that has formed due to volcanic activity. Now, Indonesia has the biggest volcano lake in the world, named Lake Toba. 

Located on Sumatra island, Lake Toba formed 74,000 years ago after massive volcanic eruptions. This lake spans 1,140 square kilometres and has a depth of 505 metres.

22. Indonesia Has Many Earthquakes Every Year 

If you read the above fun facts about Indonesia, you might’ve noticed the term “Ring of Fire”. 

The Ring of Fire is a region in the Pacific Ocean that has many active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Now, Indonesia is also located in the same region. Due to this, the country faces many deadly frequent earthquakes.

In just the year 2020, the country had 1692 earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 4! There were 10 earthquakes, with a magnitude of more than 6. 

The worst earthquake in Indonesia took place in 2004. It was an underwater earthquake of 9.1 magnitude, which triggered a 100-foot-tall tsunami. This led to the death of 200,000 people!

23. The Meaning Behind the Name Indonesia

Let’s take a look at some interesting fun facts about Indonesia, like from where it got its name.

Before independence, the country wasn’t named Indonesia. Instead, it was known as the Dutch East Indies or Netherlands East Indies

However, in 1884, a German geographer used this name. Indonesia is derived from the Greek word “indos”, meaning “India” and “nesos” meaning “island”.

After the country received independence in 1949, its name was changed to Indonesia.

24. Java Is the World’s Most Populated Island

As I already mentioned in the above fun facts about Indonesia, it is the 4th most populous country in the world. 

In addition to that, more than half of the country (around 145 million people) resides in Java. Hence, this makes Java, the most populous island in the world!

25. The Indonesian Flag Resembles the Polish Flag

25 Fun Facts About Indonesia

If you look at the flags of Indonesia and Poland, you won’t find much of a difference. After all, both of them have two horizontal bands – red and white. 

However, if you look closely, you’ll find that the order of the colours is different. Poland’s flag has the white band first, followed by the red band. On the contrary, Indonesia’s flag has red first, and then white. 

Another minor difference is that the red band in Poland’s flag is slightly darker than that of Indonesia’s. 

Now, the meaning behind Indonesia’s flag is simple. The red band stands for blood and courage, whereas the white band stands for purity and honesty.

Further Reading – Fun Facts About Indonesia

Indonesia is truly a heaven on Earth for people who love the tropical way of life. The country has many islands, having their own unique flora and fauna. Plus, the presence of various ethnic groups, also makes it culturally rich. 

So, I hope this article helped you know more fun facts about Indonesia, rather than just the usual ones. 

You can also read more related facts in the posts mentioned below!

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