Indonesia - a vast archipelago comprising more than 17,000 islands - contains a population numbering around 255 million people; a number that makes Indonesia the fourth most populous country in the world. These impressive numbers also imply that significant cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity can expected to be found within its boundaries, ranging from the daily Hindu rituals practiced on the island of Bali to the prevalence of Islamic sharia law in Aceh (Sumatra) or the semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles of the Mentawai people.
Moreover, before a national framework was laid upon them, the various regions experienced separate political and economic histories which still show in the current regional dynamics. Indonesia's national motto Bhinekka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) refers to the variety in the country's internal composition but also indicates that - despite all differences in its multicultural society - there is a true sense of unity (Indonesianness) among the people of Indonesia.
This Culture section of Indonesia Investments has as principal objective to provide the reader with essential background information on Indonesia with regard to various disciplines. This will significantly enhance people's understanding of the country. Comprehension of cultural aspects and country-specific dynamics are essential for sustainable and successful investments or when moving to a foreign country either for business or private reasons. This is especially applicable to Indonesia with its enormous cultural diversity and complexity.
How to Act Indonesian?
Indonesian cultures are very different from Western cultures as there exists a difference in experience, belief-systems, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, spatial relations, and much more. Moreover within Indonesian itself there exists a multitude of different cultures. This makes Indonesia a complex country, and therefore an interesting country. In this section we teach you some do's and don'ts for successful and efficient participation (socializing) in Indonesian society.
In this series of columns we try to unfold something related to Indonesia's cultures, histories, politics and economy, moving a bit away from the mainstream topics and columns in our other sections. These columns are useful to those who take an interest in a wide variety of disciplines with regard to Indonesia. Each column can be regarded a starting point for readers to explore a specific topic.
The Politics section contains a detailed overview of Indonesia's political history stretching from the pre-colonial period when Indonesia can be labelled a fragmented patchwork of indigenous states, to the long colonial period when the archipelago gradually transformed into a political unity, the independent Soekarno government in which politics dominated while economic policy took a backseat, the prolonged rule of Suharto's New Order which was characterized by a strong central government but weak civil society, and lastly the current era of Reformation.
The emergence of Indonesia's integrated national economy was not a quick, natural process but rather a long and artificial one, shaped largely by pressures from foreign oppressors and then culminated in the centralized state of Suharto's New Order regime. This section covers the present state and structure of Indonesia's economy and discusses a number of important chapters in its economic history (such as the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s).
Religion plays an important role within Indonesian society and in the daily lives of the people. Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world but it also contains millions of people that adhere to other main world religions as well as more traditional animist belief systems. This section gives a description of the main religions in Indonesia, to wit Islam, Christianity (incl. Catholicism), Hinduism and Buddhism. It gives a historic framework and describes the current role of religion in the country.
The demographic composition and economic performance of any given country usually have a causal relationship as a young population would generally imply a potentially large workforce while a large mid-aged population (in their 40s and early 50s) would generally imply a potentially large consumer force. In this section attention is drawn to Indonesia's demographic composition, together with an analysis of its impact on the country's economic performance as well as its future prospects.