indonesia fun facts

29 Fun Facts About Indonesia (That Might Surprise You)

As someone who’s been living in Indonesia for several years, I’ve developed an undeniable fondness for this special archipelago.

Indonesia has become one of my favorite countries, and it’s not difficult to see why when there’s so much to learn about this incredible land of volcanoes and tropical islands.

With its rich culture and diverse landscapes, it’s a place that never ceases to amaze. And for digital nomads, travelers, backpackers, and tourists, there’s always something new to discover!

Today, I bring you 29 fun facts about Indonesia that might surprise you.

indonesia fun facts

Table of Contents

29 Fun Facts About Indonesia

From volcanoes and rivers to ancient empires and modern democracy, here are 29 facts about Indonesia that you might not know already!

1. There are over 17,000 islands in Indonesia

Indonesia is a country of islands galore! This is the world’s largest archipelago, comprising over 17,000 islands.

In fact, if you were to visit one island per day, it would take you an incredible 47 years to see them all.

Fortunately, most of these islands are very small, and Indonesia’s larger islands – including Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi, Papua, Flores, and of course Bali – offer more than enough to explore that you’ll never need to make it to all 17,000!

2. Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world

With a population of over 270 million people, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, right after China, India, and the United States.

In fact, Indonesia’s projected population growth is expected to continue increasing, potentially reaching around 330 million by 2050, further solidifying its position as one of the world’s most populous nations.

That’s a whole lot of islands to visit and neighbors to meet.

3. It’s home to the komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard

Indonesia’s Komodo Island is home to the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest living lizard.

These intimidating creatures can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds.

To catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring Komodo dragon in its natural habitat, you can go to Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, which spans the islands of Komodo, Rinca, and Pulau Padar.

4. There are over 700 spoken languages in Indonesia

Indonesia is a melting pot of languages, with over 700 spoken across the country.

But fear not, Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) is the official language, and it’s relatively easy to learn, making communication a breeze.

The most commonly spoken languages of Indonesia, besides Bahasa Indonesian, are Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, Minangkabau, and Balinese.

5. There are around 1300 active volcanoes

This is a land of fire and brimstone. Indonesia boasts around 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country in the world.

The Ring of Fire, a chain of volcanoes along the Pacific Ocean’s edge, contributes to this fiery number.

6. The world’s largest flower is found in Indonesia rainforests

Indonesia’s rainforests are home to the Rafflesia arnoldii, the world’s largest flower.

This giant bloom can reach a diameter of over 3 feet and weigh up to 24 pounds.

Just beware of its smell, which resembles rotting flesh to attract pollinators.

7. You can try the world’s most expensive coffee

Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee, is one of the world’s most expensive and unique coffee varieties.

It’s made from beans that have been eaten, digested, and excreted by a civet (a small mammal).

With prices reaching up to $100 per cup, it’s certainly an acquired taste!

8. 87% of Indonesians practice Islam

Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, with around 87% of the population practicing Islam.

However, it also embraces a variety of other religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, making it a fascinating melting pot of faiths.

9. Indonesia is the world’s third-largest democracy

After India and the United States, Indonesia is the world’s third-largest democracy.

With a robust electoral system in place, it’s an example of democratic progress in Southeast Asia.

10. A haven for biodiversity

Indonesia is home to an astounding array of flora and fauna, with many species found nowhere else in the world.

In fact, it’s the second-most biodiverse country globally, right after Brazil.

Watch out for orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and even rhinoceroses!

10. You can uncover a history of ancient empires

Long before the Dutch colonized Indonesia, it was home to powerful ancient empires like the Srivijaya and Majapahit.

Their remnants can still be seen today in the form of stunning temples and historical sites.

11. Each island has its own rich cultural traditions

Indonesia is a treasure trove of cultural traditions, with each island boasting its own unique customs and practices.

From the elaborate dances of Bali to the fascinating funeral ceremonies in Tana Toraja, there’s always something new to discover.

12. Indonesia is a nation of spicy food lovers

Indonesians love their spicy food, and their sambal (a chili-based condiment) is a staple at every meal.

With hundreds of different sambal varieties, you’re sure to find one that suits your taste buds, whether you prefer mild or tongue-numbingly hot.

13. Scientists have discovered a ‘Hobbit’ species of humans which stood just 3.5 feet tall

The Indonesian island of Flores is believed to be the last remaining home of real-life “hobbits.”

In 2003, scientists discovered the remains of Homo floresiensis, a human species that stood only about 3.5 feet tall. It’s enough to make you believe in fairy tales!

14. You can visit the world’s largest Buddhist temple

Indonesia is home to Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple.

This 9th-century architectural marvel, located in Central Java, is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, religion, or simply taking in awe-inspiring sights.

15. Indonesia is a paradise for divers

Indonesia’s crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life make it a diver’s paradise.

From the coral reefs of Raja Ampat to the sunken shipwrecks in Bali, there’s an underwater adventure waiting for everyone.

16. The Wallace Line runs right through Indonesia

Named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, the Wallace Line is a boundary that separates the ecozones of Asia and Australia.

This line runs right through Indonesia, making it a unique meeting point of distinct flora and fauna.

17. The Banda Islands once had a monopoly on nutmeg

During the 17th century, the Banda Islands in Indonesia were the world’s only source of nutmeg.

The Dutch East India Company sought to monopolize the nutmeg trade, resulting in a tumultuous history of colonialism and conflict.

18. The equator runs through it

The Earth’s equator runs right through Indonesia, with the city of Pontianak in West Kalimantan famously sitting on the line.

This means the country enjoys a tropical climate year-round, with little variation in daylight hours.

19. Indonesians love badminton

Indonesia is a powerhouse in the world of badminton, with its players consistently ranking among the world’s top competitors.

The sport is hugely popular in the country, and local talent is nurtured from a young age.

20. The world’s largest gold mine is in Papua

Indonesia’s Grasberg mine in Papua is the largest gold mine and the third-largest copper mine in the world.

It’s a testament to the country’s wealth of natural resources.

21. Indonesia is a nation of smokers

Indonesia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world, with around 60% of adult men smoking regularly.

While the government is taking steps to curb this habit, it remains an ingrained part of Indonesian culture.

22. Bali is home to a UNESCO-listed cultural landscape

The Subak system, a traditional Balinese method of cooperative water management, has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage cultural landscape.

This ancient irrigation system is a testament to the island’s agricultural ingenuity.

23. Many buildings are made from sustainably sourced bamboo

Bamboo is a versatile and sustainable building material that is gaining popularity in Indonesia.

From schools to luxury villas, bamboo structures are making a statement for their eco-friendliness and innovative design.

24. Indonesia is a country of superstitions

Indonesians are known for their belief in the supernatural, with numerous superstitions and folktales shaping daily life.

From avoiding whistling at night to believing in magical creatures, Indonesia’s folklore adds an extra layer of charm to its already fascinating culture.

25. Indonesian puppet theater is a prized cultural legacy

Wayang, a traditional Indonesian puppet theater, has been an essential part of the country’s cultural heritage for centuries.

UNESCO has recognized it as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The intricately crafted puppets and captivating storytelling make it a must-see performance.

26. This is a nation of cat lovers

Indonesia has a deep-rooted love for cats.

The kucing (cat) is a popular pet, and you’ll often see them roaming the streets, basking in the sun, or begging for treats at local eateries.

27. The Indonesian Becak is an eco-friendly mode of transport

The becak, a traditional Indonesian pedicab, is a popular and eco-friendly mode of transport found across the country.

It’s a fun way to explore the streets and immerse yourself in local life while being kind to the environment.

28. There are over a thousand unique styles of dance

Indonesia is known for its rich and diverse traditional dances, with over 1,000 unique styles documented across the country.

Each dance tells a story, often inspired by myths, legends, or religious beliefs, making them a beautiful expression of the nation’s cultural heritage.

29. They’re Moving The Capital City

Indonesia is currently in the process of relocating its capital city from Jakarta to Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo.

This ambitious plan is driven by the need to address Jakarta’s severe issues with overpopulation, traffic congestion, and environmental degradation.

The new capital, yet to be named, will be designed as a smart, green, and sustainable city, aiming to provide a fresh start and a more balanced development for this fascinating country.

Learn More About Indonesia

Indonesia is truly a land of wonder, with a wealth of fascinating facts and experiences waiting to be discovered.

From its diverse landscapes and incredible biodiversity to its deep-rooted cultural traditions and history, Indonesia offers endless opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or new to this island nation, prepare to be amazed by the many surprises that Indonesia has in store.

READ MORE: Check out our Bali Digital Nomad Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the official language of Indonesia?

The official language is Indonesian, also known as Bahasa Indonesia.

What currency is used in Indonesia?

The currency used in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR).

When is the best time to visit Indonesia?

The best time to visit Indonesia is during the dry season, which typically runs from May to September.

What is the population of Indonesia?

The population of Indonesia is 273 million (2021 census)

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