Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia. Indonesia is made up of a vast archipelago consisting of several thousand islands. With these 60 interesting facts about Indonesia, let’s learn more about its history, economy, geography, people and culture.

Indonesia’s history and geography

Fact 1: “Srivijaya” is considered the first of the known Indonesian kingdoms, lasting until about 1400 A.D.

Fact 2: The Portuguese arrived in Indonesia in the early 16th century, mainly for spices. Due to huge demand for spices in Europe at the time, profits could be made selling them. Hence, the Portuguese seized the Moluccas, the chief spice-producing region.

Fact 3: The Portuguese, however, lost their dominance over the region to the Dutch.

Fact 4: Indonesia is: the world’s largest archipelago, the world’s third-most-populous democracy and the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Fact 5: More than 50% of the country is covered by forests.

Fact 6: Did you know that Indonesia has more volcanoes than any other country in the world? Yes, that is true. The country outranks even Japan and the United States in the tally. The country also leads the world in terms of total number of active volcanoes.

Interesting things that are only in Indonesia

Fact 7: The Javan rhino is an Indonesian native animal that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. An estimated 50 or fewer of these animals are in existence today.

Fact 8: Have you ever heard of Komodo dragons? This amazing animal, which can be seen in Indonesia, can eat humans. Do not worry; they are protected, as they can be seen only in the country’s national parks of Komodo Island. The dragon is named after the island. Take note that it is the world’s largest lizard.

Komodo dragon, Indonesia
Interesting facts about Indonesia: Komodo dragon. Image credit – Linh Vien Thai

Fact 9: Are you interested in seeing lakes that change colors? You may have to climb a volcano. There are three lakes at the top of an Indonesian volcano—Kelimutu—that change colors from turquoise to green, red and black. No-no, there isn’t a miracle behind this color change. The phenomenon happens when volcanic gases react with minerals dissolved in the water.

Fact 10: Flower lovers, pay attention here. Indonesia, is home to the world’s largest flower—Rafflesia Arnoldi. The flower can grow up to a weight of 7 kg, and its petals can be 2.5 cm thick and 0.5 m long. Amazed or not?

The world’s largest flower—Rafflesia Arnoldi, Indonesia.
The world’s largest flower—Rafflesia Arnoldi, Indonesia. Image credit – Ettore Balocchi.

Fact 11: There are 504 statues of Buddha in Borobudur temple, which is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, in Indonesia. The temple is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fact 12: There were more than 2000 sex-workers in “Dolly” — the largest red-light district in Southeast Asia. However, it was shut down by the government in 2014.

Fact 13: Looking for gold? You may be surprised to learn that Indonesia is also home to the world’s largest Gold mine — The Grasberg Mine. The mine is also the world’s third-largest copper mine. A workforce of 19,000 to 20,000 people operates the mine.

Fact 14: Ever smelled a flower from a distance of half a mile? You have a chance to do so if you visit Indonesia. The country has the most odorous flower on Earth, Amorphophallus titanium, available on Sumatra Island. The flower, also known as “the devil’s tongue,” can grow up to an average height of two meters.

Fact 15: Mt. Tambora, one of the tallest peaks in the Indonesian archipelago, is the most explosive volcano in history. The largest eruption recorded from this volcano, which happened in 1815, was heard 1930 km away at Sumatra Island. The eruption took the lives of more than 70,000 people.

Fact 16: As per, there are 147 volcanoes in Indonesia.

Fact 17: Indonesia’s flag is similar to that of Monaco; however, the size of the flags differs.

Fact 18: Kids, note that the Singaporean national anthem was composed by an Indonesian. It was composed by Zubair Said in 1958.

Related: Interesting facts about Singapore

Some facts about Jakarta

Fact 19: Jakarta, though a populous city, is devoid of any high-speed railway system, which is very strange. Some development is needed! The city also suffers from heavy traffic jams and congestion.

Fact 20: The Indonesia archipelago consists of more than 17,500 islands, a large number (approximately – 6000) of which are inhabited. The majority of the islands are yet to be named.

Fact 21: The country’s inhabitants use more than 700 languages across its span.

Fact 22: Indonesia has three time zones, while France has twelve (the maximum for any country).

Fact 23: The Garuda (mythical bird) is the national bird of Indonesia.

Fact 24: Indonesia has the largest economy in Southeast Asia.

Fact 25: Almost 17% of the population of Indonesia uses the internet.

Fact 26: Indonesia is home to the world’s thirteenth-largest island – Java. The island is home to a population of more 140 million people. And it contains more than half of the country’s population.

Fact 27: Java is the world’s most populous island.

Fact 28: “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (“Unity in Diversity” literally, “many, yet one”) is Indonesia’s national motto.

Fact 29: Indonesia is the world’s second-largest bio diverse nation.

Fact 30: The term “Indonesia” was first used by the British anthropologist J. R. Logan in 1850.

Fact 31: Homo erectus, also known as the Java Man, inhabited the Indonesian archipelago between 1.5 million years and 35,000 years ago.

Fact 32: Japan occupied Indonesia between 1942 and 1945 essentially to obtain its natural resources. It was revealed through a UN report that at least four million people died in Indonesia during this period. The cause of death, however, was famine and forced labor.

Fact 33: General Suharto, the second president of Indonesia, is believed to have amassed up to $45 billion corruptly. He was the acting president between March 12, 1967 and May 21, 1998. If the assessment about his wealth is correct, it might make him the world’s most corrupt politician of all time.

Fact 34: Indonesia is essentially known for: Komodo dragons, beaches, tigers, music and traditional puppetry.

Fact 35: The country’s people are very young despite the extensive history of the country. In Indonesia, at least 165 million people are under the age of 30.

About language diversity, life quality & palm oil production 

Fact 36: More than 700 different dialects and languages are spoken in Indonesia, which makes it a highly diverse country.

Fact 37: Indonesia contains hotels where there are “ladies-only floors.” Ladies can book a room on such floors where all the caretakers and staff are women.

Fact 38: The traffic conditions in Indonesia are also difficult for a newbie to get comfortable with. Almost any space that is available on the busy roads will be taken up by motorcyclists.

Fact 39: More than 35% of the species of birds and mammals in Indonesia are endemic, making it the second country in the world after Australia to have such a fleet of native species.

Fact 40: Take a note of this fact: presently, Indonesia is also the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Fact 41: Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, contributing about half the world’s supply.

Related: Interesting facts about Australia

Facts about Indonesian culture, traditions and religion

Fact 42: The nature of Indonesian national culture is somewhat similar to that of India.

Fact 43: An Indonesian engineer, Tjokorda Raka Sukawati, is credited with inventing a road-construction technique–Sosrobahu–that is now used by many countries across the world.

Fact 44: Indonesian cuisine has been influenced by Indian, Chinese, European and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Fact 45: According to an old Indonesian tradition, girls between the ages of 12 and 16 are isolated from the outside world and are virtually imprisoned.

Did you know?

Fact 46: In 1976, Indonesia became the first developing country to operate its own satellite system by launching Palapa satellite.

Fact 47: Indonesia is the world’s largest island country, followed by Madagascar and Papua New Guinea.

Fact 48: Indonesia also takes credit for being home to world’s largest volcanic lake – Lake Toba. In length, it is over 100 km and it spans 30 km in width. It is also the largest lake in Indonesia. The lake also houses a newly formed island – Pulao Samosir.

Fact 49: Earthquakes are quite frequent in Indonesia. The country experiences between one and three earthquakes every day. However, not every one is disastrous; most are quite mild.

Fact 50: Indonesia sees at least one volcanic eruption every year.

Fact 51: After Brazil, Indonesia has the world’s second-largest number of tropical forests.

Fact 52: After China, Indonesia is the world’s second-largest producer of instant noodles. The country is also home to the world’s largest instant noodle producer – Indofood.

Fact 53: Serving more than 300,000 passengers daily, the TransJakarta is the world’s largest bus rapid transit system.

Fact 54: In 2004, the world’s second-largest earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The result was a Tsunami that caused an estimated 300,000 deaths, and displaced several millions more people. The force was so intense that surrounding land masses have shifted by up to 12 m.

Indonesia map
Indonesia map. Click on the map for full size.

Indonesia facts for kids

Fact 55: According to a data collected by the World Bank in 2009, almost half of the country’s population earns less than $2 per day.

Fact 56: At 4,884 meters, Puncak Jaya in Papua is Indonesia’s highest peak.

Fact 57: Indonesia has a coastline of more than 54,716 km. Remember: Australia has the world’s longest coastline, while Monaco has the world’s shortest.

Fact 58: Indonesia lies between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

Fact 59: Tourism plays a significant role in the nation’s economy. The country models itself as “Wonderful Indonesia.”

Fact 60: Barack Obama, the U.S. President, also spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.

Related: Interesting facts about Thailand

Additional facts: 

You can see spiderweb rice fields at Cancar, Ruteng, Indonesia.

Spiderweb rice fields, Indonesia
Spiderweb rice fields, Indonesia

Quick/fast country facts Indonesia

IndependenceFriday, 17 August 1945.
Capital CityJakarta
6°10.5′S 106°49.7′E
Largest CityJakarta
6°10.5′S 106°49.7′E
Total area1,904,569 sq km
Population255,993,674 (July 2015 est.)
Official LanguageIndonesian
Languages spokenJavanese, Sundanese, Madurese, Minangkabau and others
ReligionIslam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism
BordersPapua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia (land borders).
CurrencyIndonesian rupiah (Rp) (IDR)
Average Life Span70.61 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands
Terrainmostly coastal lowlands; larger islands have interior mountains
Agricultural land31.2%
National AnthemIndonesia Raya
"Great Indonesia"
Natural resourcespetroleum, tin, natural gas, nickel, timber, bauxite, copper, fertile soils, coal, gold, silver
Birth rate16.72 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate6.37 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio1 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
National symbolgaruda (mythical bird); national colors: red, white
Industriespetroleum and natural gas, textiles, automotive, electrical appliances, apparel, footwear, mining, cement, medical instruments and appliances, handicrafts, chemical fertilizers, plywood, rubber, processed food, jewelry, and tourism
Exports$152.5 billion (2015 est.)
mineral fuels, animal or vegetable fats (includes palm oil), electrical machinery, rubber, machinery and mechanical appliance parts
Imports$138.4 billion (2015 est.)
mineral fuels, boilers, machinery, and mechanical parts, electric machinery, iron and steel, foodstuffs
GDP - per capita (PPP)$11,100 (2015 est.)
Internet country
Internet users56.257 million
percent of population: 22% (July 2015 est.)
Time ZoneVarious (UTC+7 to +9)
Calling Code+62
Drives on theLeft