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Click here to hear Indonesia's national anthem - Indonesia Raya (Great Indonesia).

One of my homepage's purpose is to introduce you to Indonesia. Even though Indonesia is one of the Philippines' closest neighbours, geographically and ethnically, I bet not many people here (in the Philippines) know about it. Well, sometimes the newspapers here have some news about Indonesia....and their favorite topics are those related to East Timor. Occassionally columnists like Soliven, Farolan, and Abaya (Philippine Star) write/comment about Indonesia. These days haze from forest fires in Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Irian Jaya is a favorite topic throughout South East Asia (I guess).

Check out the South East Asia map above. You'll find Indonesia is right south of the Philippines. Jakarta on Java island the capital. There are more than 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago that stretches from West to East. The distance from the westernmost point to the easternmost point is approximately like that from California to Maine in the U.S. On February 4, 1997 Indonesia got its 200 millionth citizen. Can you imagine how the country feed 200 million mouths? Fortunately, most productive couples have adopted birth control (the government prefers the term family planning) so that the population growth rate now is approximately 1.6-1.7% per annum. Imagine if birth control/family planning is not exercised.

The majority of Indonesians is of Malayan stock. No wonder that Indonesians and Filippinos are so much alike. Some Indonesian languages (we have more than 300 languages) are similar to Filippino languages. Most of us have the local language, not Indonesian, as the first language. Indonesian (formally it is called Bahasa Indonesia.. Bahasa means language) originates from Malay (also the language of Malaysia and Brunei) and in its development borrows words from Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and many more languages. Check out the Indonesian Language section to learn a little bit about it.

Even though the majority of Indonesians adheres to Islam (approximately 85%), there is an amazing diversity of religions and a commendable degree of religious tolerance. From the time of the Dutch, pockets of Christianity have continued to exist on the islands of Timor and Flores (brought by Portuguese missionaries), in the Lake Toba region of north Sumatra (introduced by German missionaries), the Tanatoraja area of South Sulawesi, the interior of Kalimantan, north Sulawesi, Maluku islands, and Irian Jaya. Before the spread of Islam, Sumatra was predominantly Buddhist and Java was predominantly Hindu. Hindu, however, is still the predominant faith of the Balinese.

I found a homepage owned by a 12-year old very interesting if you want to know a little bit more about Indonesia. CLICK HERE for information about Indonesia's 27 provinces. The page has pictures of traditional costumes and music of the provinces.

...or use any search engine to know more about Indonesia. I recommend that you use Webferret, available for free from FerretSoft. To know how Indonesian and others think about the country subscribe to the relevant newsgroups. I can name at least two newsgroups: soc.culture.indonesia and alt.culture indonesia. The discussions there are in Indonesian and English. However, I have no opinion about the discussions there.


Bahasa (meaning language) Indonesia is the official language as well as the lingua franca of Indonesia. Many non-native speakers tend to say that it is one of the easiest language in the world. To some extent it is true ... if we are talking about the informal language. To properly use the formal language, however, even native Indonesians find it quite difficult. Many Indonesians are not good in grammar .... they tend to use Indonesian using their local language(s) structure. Government officials are among those whose Indonesian are "bad."

Some examples of the usage of pronouns would portray the difficulties and complexities of the Indonesian language. In English we use you to address the person we talk to, regardless of his/her age, position, relationship, etc. In Indonesian there are several pronouns that we have to carefully choose depending on the person's relative position to us. Here are the common choices :

  • Kamu : younger people (we know quite well), lower in rank/position, very good friends
  • Anda : stranger (who is younger), lower in rank/position, friends (formal)
  • Saudara : same use with Anda
  • Bapak (literally means father) : older people, higher in rank/position (male)
  • Ibu (literally means mother) : older people, higher in rank/position (female)
  • Engkau or Kau (Ikaw in Tagalog) : same use with Kamu

Example :

What is your name?

Siapa (who) nama (name) kamu (or just mu = mo in Tagalog) / anda / saudara / bapak / ibu / engkau. Which pronoun to use when we ask a government official? Normally we use bapak or ibu.

The easy part of Indonesian is the absence of tenses. We don't have present, past, and future tenses. We just simply add the time frame.

Example :

I went to Mega Mall yesterday - Saya (I) pergi (go) ke (to) Mega Mall kemarin (yesterday). We use pergi for go regardless of the time frame. In Tagalog: pumunta for past, or pupunta for future (am I right?).

I will go to Mega Mall tomorrow morning - Saya (I) akan (will) pergi (go) ke (to) Mega Mall besok (tomorrow) pagi (morning).

In the mean time you may check an on-line English-Indonesian dictionary. Just check this link

If you are interested in simple English-Indonesian-Tagalog phrases click here

Wibowo Santoso © 1997