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Indonesia is a stunning country full of natural beauty, from its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters to its tropical forests and active volcanoes. It has so much to offer, including rich cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, and immense biodiversity.
But there’s more to Indonesia than its pretty beaches and tasty food. So read on to discover 24 fun facts about Indonesia for a brilliant introduction to the country.
They’ll even help you realize why Southeast Asia is so popular with backpackers, students, and pretty much all types of travelers.
1. Indonesia Has the World’s Largest Flower
Rafflesia arnoldii, or corpse flower, the world’s largest flower, is found in Indonesian rainforests, especially on Sumatra Island. Its name is very accurate due to the unpleasant odor it gives off.
This is definitely a contender for the world’s most odorous flower, as it smells like rotting meat and attracts carrion flies. It can weigh up to 22 pounds and can grow to 3 feet.
2. It Has One of the World’s Largest Gold Mines
Indonesia is also home to the world’s largest gold mine. The Grasberg Mine in West Papua has the largest gold reserve in the world and is estimated to be worth around $40 billion.
It’s located in the Sudirman Mountains at an altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level, so it’s not easily accessible, although tours can be arranged.
This gold mine was found by accident when the Dutch geologist Jean Jacques Dozy hiked up Mount Carstensz, the world’s highest island peak, in 1936.
3. It’s Home to the Komodo Dragon
Indonesia is the only country in the world where you can see the komodo dragon in nature.
You can find them on five Indonesian islands, including Komodo Island, Gili Motang, Flores, Rinca, and Padar.
One thing about the komodo dragon is that it is genuinely terrifying: they’ve even been known to eat humans. So don’t ever get too close to them, as they can leave a nasty toxic bite.
They’re also the largest lizard species and can grow to 9 feet and weigh 150 pounds.
But don’t worry; these majestic creatures only roam freely in Komodo National Park under specialized ranger supervision. So the chances of you coming across one while roaming around Indonesia are very slim.
Having said that, you can get close to them when you visit one of the five islands mentioned above, especially Komodo Island. Rangers will allow you to get close to them from behind for a photo op, with about two to three meters separation.
4. It has the World’s Largest Volcanic Lake
Indonesia is home to Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake on Planet Earth. Lake Toba is on Sumatra Island and is surrounded by the green Barisan mountains. So, this is definitely one of Indonesia’s most breathtaking spots.
This crater lake was created around 75,000 years ago due to a large volcanic eruption. It spans over 400 square miles and can be over 1600 feet deep in certain sections.
5. Indonesia had the Largest Known Explosive Eruption
The largest known explosive eruption in recorded history happened in 1815 at Mount Tambora on Sumbawa Island. It was so loud that it could be heard on Sumatra, over 1,200 miles away.
The effects of this eruption were awful, as it was estimated it took over 90,000 lives in Indonesia.
The eruption also caused a butterfly effect as masses of volcanic ash spread throughout the Earth’s atmosphere and caused “the year without a summer” of 1816.
This resulted in poisoned crops throughout the Northern Hemisphere and starvation and famine for many in 1817.
6. It had the First Team to Qualify for FIFA World Cup in Southeast Asia
One of the most interesting facts about Indonesia, especially for sports lovers, is that it was the first team in Southeast Asia to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
However, this is when the country was called Dutch East Indies, and the team only consisted of players from the Netherlands.
This was back in the 1938 World Cup in France, where they lost 6 – 0 to Hungary in the first round.
7. Indonesia is the World’s Largest Archipelago
The Indonesian archipelago is incredibly massive and stretches over 3000 miles.
This vast archipelago includes over 17000 islands. Humans occupy only a third of them, and the main ones are Sumatra Island, Java Island, Borneo, Sulawesi, and New Guinea.
What’s even more incredible about Indonesia is its variety of biomes, from rainforests to beaches. This means there are so many things to do in this country, whether climbing Mount Batur or snorkeling in Lembongan and Penida.
8. It has the Most Populous Island
One of the fascinating facts about Indonesia is that Java Island is the most populous island in the world, with a total population of 140 million people. That’s more than the entire Philippines population.
Around half of all Indonesians live on Java, which is also home to the nation’s capital, Jakarta.
The Indonesian population amounts to 275 million people, which makes this nation the fourth most populous country in the world.
9. It’s the World’s Largest Muslim Country
Another interesting fact about Indonesia is that it’s the country with the world’s largest Muslim population. Two hundred thirty-one million people in Indonesia follow the Islamic faith, which is around 87% of the country’s population.
This massive number makes up 12.7% of the world’s Islamic population. To put that into perspective, Pakistan is next with 11.1% of the world’s islamic followers.
The other major religious groups in Indonesia are Christianity, with 9.9%, a small Indonesian Hindu population of 1.7%, and Buddhism is only 0.7%.
10. Home to the World’s Largest Buddhist Temple
Indonesia is full of great tourist attractions, such as the planet’s biggest Buddhist temple, Borobudur. Located in central Java, this religious monument has been around since the 9th century.
Borobudur Temple is gigantic at around 27,000 square feet and depicts various Buddhist motifs, such as mandalas, nirvana, and over 500 Buddha statues.
Borobudur was restored with UNESCO’s help in the 1970s, and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.
Trust me; it is a stunning temple well worth a visit!
11. First Developing Country to Operate Its Own Domestic Satellite System
In 1976, Indonesia became the first developing country to control its own domestic satellite system.
The system was called the Palapa and functioned as a communication system for Indonesians all over its 6000 occupied islands.
There are currently 12 satellites in this system, which are used to provide signals for television and voice circuits all over the country.
12. It has Nine World Heritage Sites
Indonesia is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are all over the country, from Sumatra to the Lesser Sunda Islands. They are:
- Komodo National Park
- Sangiran Early Man Site
- Lorentz National Park
- The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
- The Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana philosophy
- Prambanan Temple Compounds
- Ujung Kulon National Park
- Borobudur Temple Compounds
- Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto
13. Indonesia’s Flag is Almost Identical to Monaco’s
The Indonesian flag is considered by some to be the same flag as Monaco’s.
This is because both flags have red on the top half and white on the bottom half of the flag.
However, Indonesia’s flag is a bit wider and uses a different shade of red. Besides Indonesia and Monaco, there are 16 other countries with only red and white on their flags.
14. They have Coffee extracted from Asian Palm Civet Poop
One of the weirdest facts about Indonesia is that they produce coffee that is extracted from the feces of the Asian Palm Civet. Locals feed the coffee berries to these civets and collect their excrement.
They then extract the beans from the poop. These are the most expensive coffee beans because the animals only pick the best and ripest berries.
Also, the stomach enzymes of the civets change the bean’s organic makeup, which results in a smoother cup of coffee.
This process was said to have started after the Dutch set up coffee plantations in Sumatra and Java in the 1700s.
The locals weren’t allowed to harvest the beans for themselves, and after noticing the civets left the coffee berries whole after eating them, they used these discarded beans.
The coffee is known as Kopi Luwak, and it is one of the most expensive coffee beans in the world.
15. It is the World’s Largest Producer of Palm Oil
Indonesia produces more palm oil than any other country. Along with Malaysia, they make up almost 90% of the world’s palm oil.
At over 40 million tons, this is around the same weight as 20,000 blue whales, an absolutely colossal amount.
Palm oil is commonly used for processed food like chocolate, cosmetics, and even biofuel.
16. It Holds the World Record for the Largest Packet of Instant Noodles
Indonesia holds many world records, from its large Muslim population to its huge flowers. One of the most intriguing facts about Indonesia is that it holds the world record for the biggest packet of instant noodles.
The country is home to Indomie, which is the largest producer of instant noodles in the world. So, it’s no surprise that they set out to make the biggest packet of instant noodles.
This packet of instant noodles weighed a whopping 1,465 pounds, roughly 8,000 times bigger than the regular packet.
17. Indonesia Has Over 700 Native Languages, Including Bahasa Indonesia
Indonesia is a very diverse country with 700 different languages and dialects. Bahasa Indonesia, or Indonesian, is the country’s official language, and almost all Indonesians speak it.
It’s an important national language, as it is used throughout society, from academics to business. Besides Bahasa Indonesia, the other common languages are Javanese, Sundanese, and Madurese.
18. One of The Last Places to see Wild Orangutans
Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the last spots on Planet Earth where you can see orangutans in the wild.
These incredible animals are found on Indonesia’s central Sumatra Island, where there are around 5,000 left in the wild.
The orangutan is vastly intelligent and shares 97% of its DNA with humans. This explains why orangutan roughly translates to “human of the forest” in English.
19. Indonesian Culture has Many Ancient Superstitions
Indonesians can be quite superstitious and believe that many actions can lead to a life full of bad luck or ill health.
One of the most common myths is never to sit or stand in a doorway, as it will make it hard for you to find a partner.
Another one is never to let a baby’s feet touch the ground in its first six months, as it’s feared the devil will enter them. As a result, infants are mainly passed around from one relative to another.
This ritual was said to have started in Balinese Hinduism, as many believe that the child is a reincarnated form of their ancestors.
The custom is also said to have originated as a way to lower child mortality rates.
20. Indonesia has the Third Most Volcanoes in the World
As the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia’s coastline is filled with different biomes and landforms. However, did you know that Indonesia has the third most volcanoes in the world, after Russia and the USA?
As it is in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is full of volcanoes. It has over 130 volcanoes and is the country with the most active volcanoes at 58.
This may make you a bit wary about visiting Indonesia. Don’t stress too much, as the Indonesian government is very organized in evacuating people away from these dangerous volcanic regions.
21. It’s a Hotspot for Biodiversity
Indonesia is a highly biodiverse country, full of incredible natural resources and vast flora and fauna.
In fact, 12% of all the world’s mammal species live in the country, which includes the Sumatran tiger, the rare Javan rhino, and the orangutan.
It also has around 10% of the world’s known plant species and 17% of its bird species.
22. Indonesia Still Has the Death Penalty
One of the most interesting facts about Indonesia is that it still has the death penalty. What’s more, is its death by firing squad, although it currently has a moratorium.
Indonesia is one of 55 countries that still use the death penalty, but no one has been executed since 2016.
23. It’s the World’s Biggest Frog Leg Exporter
Indonesia is known for exporting palm oil, steel, copper, rubber, and gold. But you might not know that it’s the world’s leading exporter of frog legs.
It mainly supplies countries within the European Union, such as France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
24. Indonesia Offers a Digital Nomad Visa
In 2021, the Indonesian government announced that digital nomads who earned a foreign income could qualify for a digital nomad visa.
This is excellent news for freelancers and digital nomads, as this beautiful country is one of the best budget-friendly beach destinations to visit.
What’s even better is that the visa lasts for five years and any money that is earned (provided it’s sourced abroad) is tax-free.
All you need to qualify is a valid passport, proof of remote work, and that you meet the minimum income requirements.
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