From the Bali Province to the impressive Borobudur temples, from busy Jakarta to the prominent Mt Rinjani: Indonesia has so many sites to walk through, landscapes to admire, beaches to sunbathe on and cultures to discover. The curious explorer inside you will always be pleasantly surprised when he uncovers yet another part of this wonderful archipelago. I could run through all the amazing things I saw and friendly people I met during my stay, but hey, let’s dig a little deeper! Every country has its fair share of unusual customs, curious myths and peculiar practices … So let’s have a look at the Fun Facts and Figures – Indonesia:
17 Fun Facts and Figures – Indonesia
1. More than 300 ethnic groups coexist in Indonesia, each one with its own traditions and dialects. There are around 700 different languages and dialects identified throughout Indonesia.
2. Bahasa Indonesia (meaning language of Indonesia) was invented to have a common language between all the indigenous local languages. In 1945, with Indonesia’s independence, Bahasa Indonesia was officially declared the national language. Due to the country’s history, you’ll still find some Dutch and Portuguese words in Indonesian language.
3. There are 6 ways to greet people in Bahasa Indonesia (official language): Selamat Pagi means “Good Morning”, Selamat Siang means “Good Afternoon”, Selamat Sore stands for “Good evening”, Selamat Malam for “Good night” and Selamat tidur is said before you go to sleep. And to add insult to injury, there’s Apa Kabar for the casual “Hi”. Don’t get lost in translation!
4. Be aware when you travel around Indonesia to see all the curiosities and sights, ’cause you might end up as a curiosity yourself. While visiting the temples of Borobudur, local visitors will sometimes be more interested in taking photos of you rather than of the historical sites before them. The reason? Apparently, foreigners look like Hollywood film-stars!
5. Indonesia exports tons of frog legs every year to the European market. Sautéed with garlic or cooked in lemon juice, especially the French seem to love those Indonesian frogs. They import around 3,000 tons of them annually. Unfortunately this has devastating consequences on Indonesia’s wild frog population.
6. In Indonesia, people are a bit more relaxed when it comes to security standards, especially while trekking. They let people hike up volcanoes that are puffing away with dark ashen loaded fumes or along ragged footpaths and precipitous drops without any particular safety regulations. But hey, that’s where the fun begins, right?
A quick picture of me standing on the crater before the next ash cloud
7. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and is the 4th most populated country. Indonesian Muslims have a very democratic attitude towards women and religion. An Indonesian Muslim woman I befriended, simply told me “We are happy Muslims!” flashing her biggest smile at me.
8. Speaking of smiles, the Indonesian people are very friendly, welcoming and curious. There’s always a smile for you on the corner of their mouth. They are often genuinely interested in visitors and their country of origin. So please, do not judge them as opportunists if they ask a lot of questions!
The Yogyakarta Bicycle Gang
9. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, there are between 17,508 and 18,307 islands, but no one can tell you the exact number. Only some 6,000 of those islands are inhabited.
10. During Ramadan some restaurants and hotels serve alcohol to their clients in teapots and coffee cups. Cocktails & wine are called “Prohibition cocktails” or “Prohibition tea”.
11. Yogyakarta is also known as the city with 1001 names. Why? Because people spell it in different ways: Yogyakarta, Yogya, Jogjakarta, Jogja, Djokdja… This clearly adds some spice to your online travel research!
12. The most popular sport practiced in Indonesia is Badminton, but their most popular spectator sport is Football (Soccer).
13. Indonesia is tragically known for its high rate of airplane crashes. A lot of Indonesian commercial carriers are banned from operating in Europe. So, if you plan on booking domestic flights, choose wisely!
14. After shaking hands with a person in Indonesia, touch your chest slightly. This means you’re taking their greeting into your heart (a sign of respect).
15. Peanuts are the base ingredient of Indonesia’s most iconic foods. Roasted, boiled, fried or cooked in a sauce … the craze is all about the peanut! Honestly, there’s no getting around! So, if you have a peanut allergy, pay great attention to what you eat in Indonesia!
16. Although it’s an Asian country, you do not use chopsticks but eat with a spoon, fork and knife!
17. Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other countries, 76 of them are known to have erupted. In 2006, Indonesia has apparently registered a grand total of 1,171 eruptions.
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