Indonesian Culture: Things to Know Before Visiting the Country

Indonesia is known for its natural attraction and cultural heritage. In the tourism world, this country has so much to offer from its diversity. If you wonder where to head in Indonesia, make sure to equip yourself first with a tourism insight before purchasing your ticket.

The fourth most populous countries on earth

Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world after China, India, and the US. The population was 273,523,615 in 2020, with 1,811,570 density per kilometer square. This number is even higher than Brazil’s, Russia’s, and Japan’s. As expected, two of the world’s most densely populated islands are located in Indonesia. Java island is the island which has the largest population in the world, and Bali comes second. Both islands are located in Indonesia. As if it’s not dense enough, Indonesia has the world’s most densely populated man-made island called Bungin island. This island is located in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara province. The population is 2,800 people in only 8 hectares. The density is 36.000 people per kilometer square, or 44 times of Java island density.

Indonesia Has 718 Native Languages

According to the BPS census in 2010, Indonesia has 1.340 tribes spread around the country. Each group of islands has its own culture, tribe, and language. As a result, Indonesia has 718 languages spoken by the locals. Due to its diversity, a national language holds an important role for cross-ethnic communication. Besides, Indonesian is noted as the most spoken language in Southeast Asia, and top 10 most spoken languages worldwide.

Home to Thousands of Cultures

Indonesia is known for its rich cultural diversity. Whether you are in Bali, Java, Papua, or other smaller islands, you will find endless new attractions from different tribes and ethnic groups. Culturally, those 1.340 tribes have different traditional clothes, customs, beliefs, and ceremonies held at different times along the year. If you think that Balinese culture is amazing, try to visit other islands too for a richer experience.

The Culture Has Many Ancient Superstitions

If you deal with the locals, don’t be surprised about how much they believe in superstitions. They will try their best to warn a pregnant woman and her husband not to kill small animals like snakes or cockroaches, because they believe it would bring terrible bad luck to the baby. They believe that the sound of owls signifies the existence of spirits, or that sitting on the front door could block fortune, and so many more. Do not try to argue because it’s what they believe. Just try to respect the culture and have a nice chat about it.

The Existence of Dark Magic

Yes, one of the dark things about Indonesia is how the people still use the practice of dark magic. In Quora, Indonesia is one of 10 countries that still use witchcraft or black magic. Locals call it santet, referring to something very similar to voodoo and mystical spells. This practice is not only used to injure, but more to things like an abnormally potent lucky charm for business, romance, and fortune. Although Indonesians believe in the existence of santet and spells, not everyone wants to use it. There are more people who believe that it is a sin to commit, rather than the ones who use it.

Indonesians Love Social Media

Based on, Indonesia is ranked fourth of the countries with the most Instagram users. Not only Instagram, Indonesians love Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. It has been known for content creators around the world; just make some content about Indonesia if you need an instant number of subscribers and followers. Thousands of Indonesian netizens will watch it and subscribe for sure.

It Has World’s Biggest Young Population

If you wonder why Indonesia could get a high rank in the use of social media, the answer probably lies in its number of young population. Based on the latest population census data in 2020, the number of people born between 1997 and 2012 contribute 28% of the total population, and children born between 2013 and 2020 contribute 10.88%. Meanwhile, the productive citizens aged 15 to 64 made up 70.72% of the population. With this age structure, Indonesia has a relatively young population, and is expected to have a faster rate of development in the future years.

The Largest Muslim Country

Indonesia has 98.56% Muslim citizens of the total population. The areas with the highest Muslim percentage are in Aceh, Madura, and Java island. But no matter where you go in Indonesia, you will always find huge Muslim populations. Even in the eastern part of Indonesia which the majority is Christian, or in Bali which the majority is Hindu, the muslim group still holds a decent percentage of the population. What you should know is, if your destination is Java, Madura, or Aceh, be prepared for the unreasonably loud sound of the mosque. It will happen five times a day, including the night time and 4 a.m. before sunrise. And once a year during the Ramadhan month, the mosque will sound very loud all day from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m.

It Has the World’s Most Expensive Coffee Extracted from Civet Poop

Luwak Coffee is the most expensive and exclusively made coffee in the world. It is made by feeding Luwak, an Indonesian civet species, with the fully ripe and fragrant coffee seeds. The seeds then get naturally fermented inside the civet digestion, and come out along with its poop. This exotic animal is very unique. People call it Luwak Pandan, because its body smells very similar to the fragrant Pandan plant. Unexpectedly, the poop smells almost as fragrant as the civet body. So the extracted coffee, although it has been well cleaned, still has the pandan aroma due to the deep fermentation inside the civet belly.

It Has Identical Flag to Monaco

No matter how you look at it, Indonesia’s and Monaco’s flags look identical. A very simple flag made from the plain color of red on the top half, and plain white on the bottom half of the flag. They also look similar to Poland’s flag, only the position is reversed. The only difference between the two identical flags is that Indonesia’s flag is a bit wider than Monaco’s.

So those are the things you should know about Indonesia. Plan your visit, and enjoy your stay in this exotic and unique country.

By Jembatan Bahasa

Jembatan Bahasa is a professional and highly rated Indonesian language school based in Bali, Indonesia. Our teaching team is experienced and certified to teach Indonesian as a foreign language. Some of them have over eight years of teaching experience and have taught in a prestigious international school in Bali. Interested in learning Indonesian with us? WhatsApp us at +6282 145 950 737 or email at