Religion in Indonesia


According to thesciencetutor, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country. The residents are extremely unevenly distributed between the different islands. Java, Madura and Bali comprise about 8 percent of the country’s area, but accommodate just over 60 percent of the entire population. Java is one of the world’s most densely populated areas. During the last century, there has been a strong move in there and the island has become increasingly overcrowded. For a long time, governments have been carrying out large-scale relocation projects and transferring residents to other islands, but Java still has a population surplus.

According to Countryaah data, Indonesia’s population increased in 1965-80 by an average of 2.4 percent per year. Growth has then slowed down and was on average 1.3 percent per year in 2005-15. However, it still means an annual increase of about 3 million people.

In 2019, 54 percent of the population lived in cities, and the flow of poor, unemployed rural people moving into the big cities is very strong. The country’s three largest cities are located on Java, namely the capital Jakarta (10.5 million residents in 2019), Surabaya (295 million residents in 2018) and Bandung (2.6 million). Sumatra’s largest city is Medan (2.2 million). Jakarta’s metropolitan area is one of the most populous in the world. Estimates in 2019 indicate that 30 million people live there.

The population of Indonesia comprises over 300 ethnic groups, and its physical and cultural composition reflects the immigration history of the island. Descendants of the so-called Protomalians (Mongolian people who immigrated from southern China and Indochina) are found among the tribal peoples of Borneo, Sumatra (batak, gajo, redjang), Sulawesi (toradja) and the eastern of the Little Sunda Islands (manggarai, end, tetum, atoni)). These people feed largely on burning; The family or village is the most important social unit, and local animist tribal religions still play a major role, although the centuries of Christian mission have had very tangible effects.

People in Indonesia

The immigration of Malays, likewise from the mainland of South China, began around 500 BC. Through the Philippines, they spread to Borneo, Sumatra (minangkabau), Java (Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese) and Bali and Lombok (Balinese, Sasak); Malays (or Malay Indonesians), to some extent mixed with protomalis, now make up more than 90 percent of the country’s population. The Malay-Indonesian culture with centers in Java and Bali has been strongly influenced by the Indian; as early as the 7th century, a Hindu kingdom was founded in Java, and in the 13th century, Bali was also incorporated into the Hindu culture sphere. At the same time as the Indian influence, the culture was influenced by Arab traders and seafarers. When the port city of Malacca in the 1400s became the region’s most important trading center, it also became the center for the spread of Islam in Indonesia. By the 18th century, virtually all coastal areas had been Islamized. Later immigrants noticed more than 1.7 million Chinese (according to the 2000 census), about half of whom live in Java. The group is divided into a number of subgroups, of which the so-called Peranakankines are partly culturally assimilated into the Malay culture.

The people of Irian Jaya are predominantly Papuan tribal people, whose culture is very different from the Indonesian. The cultural survival of these peoples is now threatened by the government’s migration program, according to which 20 million people are to be transferred from Java to Irian Jaya.


The official and inter-language language of Indonesia is Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), a form of Malay, which is spoken as a native language of at least 15 million (the information varies widely). The majority of the approximately 700 local languages, like Malay, belong to the Austronesian language family, but in the Indonesian part of New Guinea many languages are spoken in the West Papuan and trans-New Guinea languages. The largest native languages are Javanese (about 85 million speakers) and Sundanese (about 35 million speakers), both of which are primarily spoken in Java. Other languages spoken by at least one percent of the population are Achinese, Balinese, Banjarese, Betawi, Madurese and Minangkabau. During the colonial period, the Dutch held a dominant position. See also population and Ethnography above.


Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia, the country in the world that has the most Muslim population. Islam came to this part of Asia in the 12th century with Arab merchants who settled in the province of Aceh on Sumatra. Many converted and an Indonesian variant of Islam emerged. Today, about 90 percent of the country’s more than 265 million residents are Muslims. Sunni dominates, but there are also between 1 and 3 million Shiites.

According to the country’s Ministry of Religion, there are about 10 million Hindus in the country. On the island of Bali, 90 percent of the population is said to be Hindus. Hindus also constitute significant minorities in central and eastern Borneo, in northern Sumatra, in southern and central Sulawesi, and in Lombok. Hindu and Christian elements often occur in indigenous traditional religion. An estimated 8 percent of the population, mainly in Java, Borneo and Papua, practices various forms of indigenous traditional religion with elements of animism.

Catholic mission began in the first half of the 16th century, when Portuguese traders reached the Moluccas. By the end of the century, it is estimated that around 20 percent of the population in this part of today’s Indonesia were Catholics. In 1619, the Dutch East India Company established the trading station Batavia, now Jakarta, on the northwest coast of Java. The Calvinist Dutch did not encourage Christian mission, and Catholic priests who devoted themselves to converting the local people were banished. Today, Christians are expected to make up about 10 percent of the population. Of these, Protestants are in the majority with about 7 percent of the population, while Catholics account for just under 3 percent. Remaining Christians are members of independent and independent churches and congregations such as the Salvation Army and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Almost 1 percent of the population are Buddhists. A majority of these follow the Mahayana tradition. Most Buddhists are ethnic Chinese.

There are a number of Sikh temples (gurdwaras) in northern Sumatra and Jakarta, and it is estimated that there are 10,000 to 15,000 Sikhs living in the country.

The belief in an almighty deity forms the basis of the constitution and also constitutes the first tenet of the state ideology Pancasila, which was launched in 1945 by the aspiring President Sukarno as a way to unite the country. Pancasila assumes that all Indonesians are believers. The constitution guarantees all citizens the freedom to practice their religion according to their beliefs – but the government recognizes only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Both at national and regional level there are laws that restrict the opportunities for religious organizations that are not approved by the state to operate.

Aceh is the only Indonesian province where Sharia courts are formally allowed. Three Sharia Laws, which apply only to Muslims, have been introduced by the provincial government: one that deals with the relations between women and men and two that deal with the prohibition of alcohol and against gambling on money. The punishment is usually whipping, but the convicted are always fully clothed and there are rules about how harsh the whipping may be.

In many parts of the country, however, local governments have introduced sharia-inspired laws, which primarily affect women.

Religious instruction in any of the six official religions should be provided where required. Religious speeches are allowed if directed to the religious group to which the speaker belongs. There are no obstacles for the six recognized religions to broadcast religious television programs. The publication of religious material and the use of religious symbols are permitted as long as materials and symbols are not disseminated to win new members.

  • Visit for business, geography, history, politics, and society of Indonesia. Also find most commonly used abbreviations and acronyms about this country.

The following days, according to the government, are national religious holidays: Islamic: Id al-fitr, Id al-adha, Miraj, Islamic New Year (Muharram) and Prophet Muhammad’s birth (Sekaten/Mawlid); Christians: Good Friday, Ascension Day and Christmas Day; Buddhist: Waisak (Vesakfesten); Hindu: Nyepi (Day of Silence. Feast of Bali’s Hindus, celebrated on the Balinese New Year). The Chinese New Year is called Indonesia in Imlek and is a national holiday since 2003.

Indonesia Religion