Indonesia’s Culture

The people are a mix of the many tribes, an ethnicities that are an intrinsic part of the country’s diversity. Even though the Constitution clearly states its objective of ‘Unity in Diversity’, there are multiple groups and divisions in the country based on religion, caste, class, language, tribe, clan and ethnicity. Indonesian Chinese have a strong economic and social presence all over the country.

Although the national language is Indonesian, there are hundreds of languages and dialects spoken by the hundreds of tribes that inhabit the 6000 islands across the country. There are 300 recognized and known languages and dialects as of now, spoken by the various religious, ethnic and tribal groups.

Since the country was ruled by Hindu kings for a long time, there are a lot of Hindu influences, along with Buddhist and tribal influences, seen in their culture, traditions and rituals, even among those who follow Islam or other religions. Smaller towns and villages have their own customs, traditions and ways of following their chosen religion, which may be distinctly different from each other.

Despite being a Muslim majority country, the State is officially a secular state, and there are not many restrictions on dress and socializing on women in the country. However, certain towns and villages with a Muslim majority may have stricter rules. It is best to avoid clothing that reveal a lot of skin, and to carry a headscarf at all times when traveling across Indonesia.