This article provides an overview of Indonesia for those keen on exploring the possibility of living and working there. The information presented is gathered from open sources and is not exhaustive or meant to supplement or substitute legal and professional advice.
- Official name: Republic of Indonesia (Republik Indonesia)
- Capital: Jakarta
- Geography: 34 provinces
- Land area: 1,916,906.77 sq km
- Population (2019): 268.1 million
- Head of state: President Joko Widodo (since October 2014)
- National language: Bahasa Indonesia
- Currency: Rupiah (IDR)
- GDP (2019): IDR 15,833.9 trillion
- GDP per capita (2019): IDR 59.1 million
The Republic of Indonesia is located between the continents of Asia and Australia. It comprises 16,056 islands, with 34 provinces spreading over five main islands and four archipelagos. The five main islands include Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. The four archipelagos are Riau, Bangka Belitung, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku. Papua (319,036.05 sq km) is the largest of the 34 provinces and the smallest is Daerah Khusus Ibukota (DKI) Jakarta (664.01 sq km).
Apart from its vast territory, Indonesia has a dense population and is rich in natural resources. It is also rich in cultural diversity, with each region having its own unique cultural characteristics, local language, dance, custom and costume. On 2 October 2009, UNESCO inscribed Indonesian batik on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Indonesia’s population reached 268.1 million in 2019, up from 238.5 million in 2010. The population growth rate was 1.31 percent. The most populous province in 2019 was West Java (49.317 million), while the least populous province was West Papua (959,600), which is located in the far eastern region of Indonesia.
Indonesia is ASEAN’s largest economy. Its GDP in 2019 was IDR 15,833.9 trillion, a growth of more than six percent from the IDR 14,838.3 trillion achieved in 2017. Since 2014, the Indonesian government has been pushing ahead with its plans to make Indonesia a manufacturing hub for Southeast Asia. In 2018, it launched the Making Indonesia 4.0 Roadmap, which aims to boost the industry’s competitiveness by incorporating major innovations such as artificial intelligence, robotics and sensor technology. The roadmap focuses on the capability upgrading of five manufacturing sectors, namely F&B, automotive, electronics, chemicals, and textile and garment.
Indonesia is the fourth-largest consumer market in the world, in terms of population size, behind China, India and the United States. Indonesia’s mushrooming middle class is also becoming a dominant force within its consumer market. By 2020, urban consumers are expected to account for an estimated 57 percent of the country’s total population. These consumers are likely to spend more on necessities as well as discretionary items, such as travel, welfare, and leisure items on a per capita basis, and prioritise convenience, with a greater reliance on modern trade outlets and e-commerce deliveries.
Due to its location, Indonesia has a diverse landscape from “from the vibrant tourists’ paradises of Bali and Lombok to the mysteriously shrouded cultures of the Asmat in Papua and those who dwell the highlands of Toraja in South Sulawesi.” Apart from the natural landscapes, culturally it also offers a rich diversity of ancient temples and historical remnants, such as Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Central Java and the Prambanan Temple Compounds, which is located in Yogyakarta and is one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. The island of Bali is also a popular beach holiday destination among tourists.
International tourist arrivals in Indonesia reached 16.11 million in 2019, up from 15.81 million recorded in 2018. The country is eager to grow its tourism sector to boost revenue and help it diversify its sources of economic growth, which is currently largely dependent on commodities. It has invested in infrastructure development to enhance connectivity, including the development of new airports and harbours and upgrading existing airports and air navigation facilities. Additionally, the government has also allowed visa-free access to 169 countries to attract foreign visitors.
Indonesia also promotes itself as a key halal destination in the region by developing areas such as Banda Aceh, Aceh Besar, Sabang, and Lake Laut Tawar. Apart from luring Muslim tourists, it is also seeking to develop international medical tourism.