29 interesting facts about Indonesia

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The most interesting facts about Indonesia, from the world’s smelliest plant to the largest packet of instant noodles ever created.

two Komodo dragons fight
The largest species of lizard alive is endemic to Indonesia (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Indonesia
Capital city: Jakarta
Population: 267,026,366
Area: 1,904,569 sq km
Major languages: Bahasa Indonesia, English, Dutch
Time zone: UTC+7-9 (Western, Central, Eastern Indonesia Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Indonesia

1. Archaeology suggests that humans inhabited the island of Java for approximately 1.3 to 1.7 million years. 
– Source: New Scientist

2. Indonesia is a transcontinental country as it is positioned across the two continents of Oceania and Asia.
– Source: National Geographic

3. At one point, the archipelago of Indonesia was all linked by land bridges. Then, around 6,000 years ago, a quick rise in sea level submerged these bridges.
– Source: Britannica

4. Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands. The exact number is unclear with one survey suggesting there are as many as 18,307. Only Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland have more.
– Source: Lonely Planet, The Telegraph

The islands of Raja Ampat in Indonesia
Many interesting facts about Indonesia are linked to its thousands of islands (Shutterstock)

5. As such, Indonesia is the largest archipelagic state – island nation – in the world. An island nation is a country whose primary territory consists of one or more islands or parts of islands.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

6. Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country after China, India and the USA.
– Source: World Bank

7. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation with over 219 million Muslims living there.
– Source: Pew Research Centre

8. After Papua New Guinea, Indonesia is the world’s second most linguistically diverse country with over 700 native languages spoken.
– Source: Ethnologue

9. The largest species of lizard alive, the Komodo dragon, is endemic to Indonesia. The Komodo dragon can grow to over 3m (10ft) long and weight 150kg.
– Source: National Geographic

two Komodo dragons fight
Two Komodo dragons fight (Shutterstock)

10. Indonesia is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Megadiverse countries are the world’s most biodiversity-rich countries.
– Source: The Telegraph

11. The 1,500 remote islands of Raja Ampat in Indonesia are considered a biological hot spot. It is thought that the reef systems there replenish the reef systems throughout the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.
– Source: Lonely Planet

12. Discounting continental landmasses such as Australia, Indonesia is home to three of the world’s ten largest islands. After Greenland, New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea) is the world’s second-largest island; Borneo (shared with Brunei and Malaysia) is the world’s third-largest island; Sumatra (entirely within Indonesia) is the world’s sixth-largest island.
– Source: Britannica

13. The world’s most populous island is the Indonesian island of Java. In 2010 it had a population of 136 million. Estimates now suggest it is over 141 million (Wikipedia).
– Source: Guinness World Records

14. From 1670 to 1900, the Netherlands colonised the region and brought the whole of what is now Indonesia under one colony known as the Dutch East Indies.
– Source: BBC News

15. Indonesia has a simple horizontally divided red and white national flag. The red represents courage and the white represents honesty. Coincidentally, the flag is identical to Monaco’s (apart from its dimensions).
– Source: DK Publishing (2008) Complete Flags of the World. DK: London

The flag of Indonesia
The flag of Indonesia (Shutterstock)

16. Indonesia proclaimed independence in 1945. However, it was not until 1949 that the Netherlands recognised Indonesia’s sovereignty following four years of guerrilla warfare between the two sides.
– Source: BBC News

17. With 139 volcanoes, Indonesia has the third-highest number of volcanoes in the world, after the USA and Russia.
– Source: Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program (GVP), The Telegraph

18. In 1883, Krakatoa – one of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in history – took place in Indonesia. The island of Krakatoa and its surrounding archipelago were largely destroyed as it collapsed into a caldera. In all, at least 36,000 people died from the eruption and the resulting tsunamis.
– Source: Britannica

19. The eruption led to the creation of a new island called “Anak Krakatau” which means “Child of Krakatau”. This also erupted in 2018, killing over 400 people injuring over 7,000 displacing nearly 47,000.
– Source: BBC News, BBC News

20. Critically endangered orangutans can be found in Indonesia. The two islands of Sumatra and Borneo are the only places left in the world where they can be found in the wild.
– Source: WWF

An orangutan in Indonesia
The critically endangered orangutan (Shutterstock)

21. Indonesia is the world’s shortest country according to the average height of its male citizens. However, it should be noted that data is only available for 101 countries of the world.
– Source: The Telegraph

22. Indonesia is the most heavily forested region on earth after the Amazon. It contains several of the world’s largest rainforests.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

23. The world’s largest flower can be found in the Indonesian jungle. The Rafflesia tuan-mudae can grow up to 111cm (3.64ft) across.
– Source: The Guardian

24. The world’s smelliest plant can also be found in Indonesia. Known as the corpse flower, the Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum) supposedly smells like the “essence of rotting fish combined with the essence of rotting onion.”
– Source: National Geographic

25. Indonesia has the world’s largest Buddhist temple. Dating from the 8th and 9th centuries, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur is home to 72 stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha.
– Source: Lonely Planet, UNESCO

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur in Indonesia
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur (Shutterstock)

26. Indonesia’s highest mountain is Puncak Jaya which, at 4,884m (16,024ft), is also the highest mountain in Oceania. As such, it is one of the Seven Summits – the tallest mountains on every continent.
– Source: National Geographic

27. At 54,716km, Indonesia has the second-longest coastline in the world, after only Canada.
– Source: CIA World Factbook: Coastline

28. In 1976, Indonesia became the first developing country to operate its own domestic satellite system when it launched the Palapa satellite.
– Source: New York Times

29. In 2005, the largest packet of instant noodles was created by an Indonesian food company. The packet measured 340cm x 235.5cm x 47cm and weighed 664.94kg.
– Source: Guinness World Records

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