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The country consists of 26 provinces with about 500 tribes. Correspondingly, about 500 languages and dialects are spoken in the archipelago. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world after China, India, and the United States of America. The people of Indonesia are a mix between the native people and the newcomers during the Neolithic Period (3000-2000 BC) from the Asian main land to the south, through alarge-scale migration.

The citizenship of Indonesian is governed by the Nationality Act since the beginning of independence on August 17, 1945


The population policy is aimed at improvement of quality of life. Control of population growth is carried out through efforts to lower the birth and mortality rate, especially that of infants and children.


The crude birth rate declined drastically from 27.3 per 1000 people in 1990 to 24.5 per 1000 in 1993. In the meantime, the fertility rate also declined from 3.3 per 1000 women of child bearing age in 1990 to 2.87 in1993.

Several factors including a rising living standard, higher educational level and improved health services, contributed to the birth rate decline, especially the increasing numbers of participtants in family planning programs.


According to the statistics the expectation of life at birth for a man was 45.7 years representing a rise of about 15 years since the late 1960s, compared to 60.7 years for 1988 and 62.7 for 1990.

The crude death rate in 1988 was 7.9 per 1,000 people against 19.1per 1,000 in 1993. The infant mortality rate declined from 67 per 1,000 live birth in 1988 to 58 in 1993. Furthermore, the crude death rate had decreased about 45.1% for the period of 1971-1990, meaning 2.3% per year.

Causes for the decline in the mortality rate include better nutrition, a rising standard of living, advances in medical science, growth of medical facilities, improved health measures, better working conditions, education in personal hygiene, and small nuclear families.

TABLE 1: Area and Population of lndonesia's Major Islands 1990* Island Percentage of Area Population Percentage of Population Population Density (per sq km)
1. Java (incl.Madura) 6.89 107,573,749 59.99 814
2. Sumatra 24.67 36,455,344 20.33 77
3. Sulawesi 9.85 12,521,385 6.98 66
4. Kalimantan 28.10 9,109,804 5.08 17
5. Nusa Tenggara 4.61 10,163,854 5.67 115
6. Irian Jaya (Western part of the island of New Guinea) 21.99 1,641,430 0.92 4
7. Maluku 3.88 1,856,075 1.03 25
Indonesia 100.00 179,321,641 100.00 93

Source : Central Bureau for Statistics


In 1992 the number of Indonesian citizens living abroad was 261,416. Of these, 190,586 went to Asian countries, 1,477 to African countries, 24,397 to European countries, 21,612 to American countries and 23,344 to Australia and other Pacific countries.

At the same time the number of foreigners living in Indonesia was 221,461. Of these 220,129 were Asians, 2 Africans, 107 Australians, 961 Europeans,and 262 Americans. Some 79,537 chose to live in Sumatra, 96,800 in Java, 9,553 in Nusa Tenggara, 9,582 in Kalimantan, 18,858 in Sulawesi, 5,799 in Maluku and Irian Jaya. There were also 71,058 temporary immigrants throughout the country.


Like in many countries, particularly those in the developing world, the city is always the major attraction for the rural population. This is especially true where the land no longer offers an effective means to learn a living. Over the years, particularly after World War II, cities have grown rapidly in population, so much so that municipal governments have not been very successful in coping with the impact of urbanization. Prevalent are the pressing needs for employment, housing, transportation and other social requirements.


Indonesian nationality is governed by Act No. 62 of 1958. It defines an Indonesian national as a person who, since the beginning of independence on August 17, 1945, qualifies for citizenship under existing laws.

Further, a person whose mother is an Indonesian national, but whose father's nationality is unknown or whose father is stateless, shall qualify for Indonesian citizenship. Also, a person who was born in Indonesia from unknown parents, or an orphan whose parents are unknown, or a person bornin Indonesia who does not inherit any nationality from his/her parents, shall qualify for Indonesian citizenship.

A five year old child, who is adopted by foster parents of Indonesian nationality, shall qualify for Indonesian nationality if the foster parent sapply to a court to legitimize the adoption within one year and are granted their request.

A child born from a legitimate marriage of an Indonesian mother and an alien father shall, in the event a divorce is granted by the court, qualify for Indonesian nationality if he/she so decides.

A child born from a legitimate or illegitimate marriage between an alien father and an Indonesian mother is entitled to become an Indonesian national if he/she applies to the Minister of Justice, having abandoned his/her alien nationality according to the law of the foreign country orin accordance with an agreement concluded between Indonesia and a foreign country. In such case a child shall submit the application within a year after reaching the age of 18.

To obtain Indonesian nationality, aliens must fulfill the following conditions:
Have reached the age of 21 or over;
Were born in Indonesia or have lived in Indonesia continuously fo r5 years, or interruptedly for 10 years;
Have a fair command of the Indonesian language and knowledge of Indonesian history, and have never been convicted by a court for a breach of law orfor any act against Indonesia;
Have the consent oi the wife/husband;
Are mentally and physically healthy;
Pay a fee of the amount of which shall be decided by the court, taking into consideration the applicant'sincome;
Have permanent employment;
Have no other nationality or have abandoned his/her nationality which is in conformity with an agreement on dual nationality reached between Indonesia and the foreign country.

An alien married woman is not entitled to apply for Indonesian citizenship. However, Indonesian nationality may be granted to aliens who have proved meritorious and have served the interest of Indonesia. Such nationality shall be granted with the approval of the House of Representatives.

An alien wife of an Indonesian national is entitled to Indonesian citizenship if she so wishes and makes a statement to that effect within a year of the marriage. This does not apply if the husband has abandoned his Indonesian nationality.

An Indonesian woman married to an alien husband shall lose her Indonesian nationality if she makes a statement to this effect within a year of her marriage.

Indonesian nationality obtained by a husband shall automatically apply to his wife except where she, after acquiring Indonesian nationality, does not abandon her alien nationality.

If a person loses his/her Indonesian nationality, his wife/her husband also loses it, except where both of them are stateless.

A person who has lost his/her Indonesian nationality by marriage can regain it if the marriage is broken off and the person applies for it. Such an application shall include a statement of the broken marriage and be submitted to a court or an Indonesian diplomatic mission abroad.

A child under the age of 18 who is not married and retains his/her kinship with the father who has not yet acquired Indonesian nationality, qualifies for Indonesian nationality if he/she lives permanently in Indonesia.

If a widow or widower obtains Indonesian nationality, her/his child shall be entitled to the same provided that the latter is under 18 years of age and not married. This also applies to children under 18 and not married, born to parents who have lost their Indonesian nationality.


There are about 583 languages and dialects spoken in the archipelago by the different ethnic groups of the population. Some of the distinctly different local languages are: Acehnese, Batak, Sundanese, Javanese, Sasak, Tetum of Timor, Dayak, Minahasa, Toraja, Buginese, Halmahera, Ambonese, Ceramese, and several Irianese languages. To make the picture even more colorful, these languages are also spoken in different dialects.


The national language of Indonesia is "Bahasa Indonesia".Originally it was the Malay language mainly spoken in the Riau Islands. In its spread throughout the country, its vocabulary and idioms have been enriched by a great number of local languages.

To keep pace with religious, social and cultural progress, many words and terms have been derived from foreign languages, including Dutch, Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic and, later, Portuguese.
Although Bahasa Indonesia has become the lingua franca, local languages and dialects continue to be spoken and will not be abolished.


During the Neolithic Period (3000-2000 BC) a large-scale migration of people took place from the Asian main land to the south. This migration originated in Yunan in South China and Tonkin. These people had developed a higher degree of civilization compared to that of the Wajaks, the indigenous people of Indonesia. The Wajaks lived a primitive life of food gathering, hunting and fishing. Of agriculture, they only knew primitive forms of growing sweet potatoes (Dioscorea esculanta) and the keladi yam (Colocasia antiquorum).

The Sub-Mongolian migrants came down the big rivers of South China in the direction of the Salween River. This river flows from Tanglha in Tibet into present-day Myanmar, where the migrants mixed with the Karen people. In Assam the new comers learned rice cultivation in wet fields. Over long distances and centuries this process eventually made its way to Indonesia. Some of the migrants settled in the Mekhong River basin, where they inter-married with the Mon of present day Thailand and Laos, and with the Khmer of present day Kampuchea.

Some of these people went eastwards to Quemoy where they learned maritime techniques. This enabled them to sail in canoes fitted with outriggersto the islands of Riukyu and Taiwan in the south Pacific. From there they crossed the seas to present-day Philippines and to the island chain of Sangir, Sulawesi, Halmahera, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara, Java and Sumatra. In the end, they went as far as the island of Madagascar, now called Malagasi. Others sailed along the island of Okinawa to Japan.

The Sub-Mongolian migrants who settled in Indonesia, inter-married with the Wajaks. With their higher state of civilization, the migrants dominated the indigenous people. But the Wajaks learned much from them,including the cultivation of rice, which became the staple food of Indonesia. They also learned the use of new quadrangular adzes, and bronze and irontools. The migrants even introduced coins.

At a later stage, a wave of Indo-Arian migrants entered Indonesia from India through the Strait of Malacca and the Java Sea. They inter-married with the already-mixed races inIndonesia.

Source : "INDONESIA 1996 : AN OFFICIAL HANDBOOK", Department of Information, Directorate of Foreign Information Services, Perum Percetakan Negara RI, 1995/1996

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