•It's a beautiful nation of islands with staggering levels of biodiversity. It's also home to more than a quarter of a billion people, many of them Muslim.
Broadly, there are six major Indonesia islands that are worth mentioning about – namely, Sunda Islands, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Maluku Island, and New Guinea. However, the real treasure trove lies in some of the smaller pockets.
Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world and home to 268 million people. Just by virtue of that alone, it’s really worth knowing more about, because it doesn’t get a whole lot of media coverage or leave a huge cultural imprint in America or, I think, in Europe. What’s cool about it, to me, is that it’s an island country, so it’s composed of—no one’s really sure quite how many—but about 15,000 islands at the last count. They also stretch incredibly far, wider than the continental US, so they’re so different from one end to the other, including in the kind of people, as well as plants and animals and climates, that you find within them.
There are more Muslims living in Indonesia than in all the Gulf countries combined but, again, it doesn’t take up much space in what we usually think of as the ‘Islamic world’.
I’m a journalist and I focus on religion and politics, so a lot of my empirical data on, and ways I think about the world, come from living in Southeast Asia and the way that religion and politics are blended there; especially the way that many democracies there, most prominently Indonesia, incorporate religions into the public sphere. Indonesia really bucks the so-called secularization thesis: the more democratic it has become, the more and more religious has been the nature of its politics. I think that’s all really interesting, to expand the idea of what the Muslim world is, what a democracy looks like and so on.
Indonesia is a presidential republic with an elected legislature. It has 34 provinces, of which five have special status. The country's capital, Jakarta, is the world's second-most populous urban area. Indonesia shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and the eastern part of Malaysia, as well as maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands). Despite its large population and densely
populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support one of the world's highest levels of biodiversity.
Education and health
Education is compulsory for 12 years. Parents can choose between state-run, non-sectarian schools or private or semi-private religious (usually Islamic) schools, supervised by the ministries of Education and Religion, respectively. Private international schools that do not follow the national curriculum are also available. The enrolment rate is 93% for primary education, 79% for secondary education, and 36% for tertiary education (2018). The literacy rate is 96% (2018), and the government spends about 3.6% of GDP (2015) on education. In 2018, there were 4,670 higher educational institutions in Indonesia, with most of them (74%) being located in Sumatra and Java. According to the QS World University Rankings, Indonesia's top universities are the University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University and the Bandung Institute of Technology.
Government expenditure on healthcare is about 3.3% of GDP in 2016. As part of an attempt to achieve universal health care, the government launched the National Health Insurance (Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional, JKN) in 2014. It includes coverage for a range of services from the public and also private firms that have opted to join the scheme. Despite remarkable improvements in recent decades such as rising life expectancy (from 62.3 years in 1990 to 71.7 years in 2019) and declining child mortality (from 84 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to 23.9 deaths in 2019), challenges remain, including maternal and child health, low air quality, malnutrition, high rate of smoking, and infectious diseases
The present study highlights a number of similarities and differences among cultural communicative styles used in India versus Indonesia. The analysis is based on Hall’s theory (1959, 1966, 1976, 1983) of high-context (HC) and lowcontext (LC) cultures, and Hofstede’s (2008) cultural dimension of collectivism versus individualism. When viewed through the lens of Hall’s theory, India and Indonesia can both be classified as HC cultures, although India appears to be moving in the direction of LC culture. When both cultures are observed via Hofstede’s account of collectivism versus individualism, it is evident that Indonesia belongs to a collectivist culture, whereas India can be considered as both individualistic and collectivistic. There are marked differences in the ways that Indians and Indonesians interact, yet they also share a number of similarities, including respecting their elders and persevering in the accomplishment of tasks. This study also suggests how potential gaps between members of different cultures can be bridged by promoting intercultural acceptance.