Indonesia is a vibrant, democratic nation that is continually strengthening its political structures and deepening the enfranchisement of the population.
“Unity in Diversity”
As of 2020, Indonesia has an estimated population of 270 million, of which around 55 percent live on Java. These gargantuan numbers explain why there the country boasts such significant cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity. From the daily Hindu rituals practiced on the southeastern island of Bali to the prevalence of Sharia law in northwestern Aceh or even the semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles of the Mentawai people off the coast of Sumatra.
Indonesia has more than 300 distinct ethnic and linguistic groups. The largest and most dominant in terms of politics is Javanese, but most Indonesians are actually descendants of Austronesian-speaking families while Melanesians populate much of the eastern part of the country. It is also the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, with a little more than 87 percent identifying as Muslim.
Moreover, before a national framework was laid upon them, the various regions experienced separate political and economic histories, many of which are still evident in the current regional dynamics. Indonesia’s national motto “Bhinekka Tunggal Ika” (Unity in Diversity) refers to the variety in the country’s internal composition, but also indicates that despite all differences in its multicultural society, there is a true sense of unity among the people of Indonesia.