Fact sheet Indonesia

Indonesia (Listeni/ˌɪndəˈnʒə/ or /ˌɪndˈnziə/), officially the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands.[5] It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world’s fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. The nation’s capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a member of the G-20 major economies. The Indonesian economy is the world’s eighteenth largest economy by nominal GDP and fifteenth largest by purchasing power parity.

The Indonesian archipelago has become an important trade region since at least the 7th century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries CE, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought Islam, and European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia’s history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.

Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest—and the politically dominant—ethnic group. Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia’s national motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (“Unity in Diversity” literally, “many, yet one”), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world’s second highest level of biodiversity. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread.[6][7]

Below the fact sheet of Indonesia:

Population 234,693,997 (est. 2006)
Population growth 1.25% per year
Land area 1,919,440 sq km
Currency The rupiah (Rp)
GDP (official exchange rate) US$287.4 billion
GDP per capita US$3,400 (2006)
Official name Republik Indonesia (Republic of Indonesia)
Form of state A unitary state in the form of a republic.
Head of State The President of the Republic of Indonesia (Presiden Republik Indonesia) is the Head of State as well as the Head of the Government. The current President is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Higher education students 3,663,435
Proportion of relevant age group in higher education 15%
Higher education institutions 3,441
Number of students abroad 31,687 (UNESCO 2004)
Major study destinations USA, Australia, Malaysia, Germany, The Netherlands, UK, Singapore, Japan and Canada
Popular fields of studies Economy, Business and Administration, Engineering, IT, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, Medical and Health/Natural Sciences



Indonesia is and will become even more an attractive education market. The political stability and steady economic growth will lead to an increasingly larger middle class. More students will be able to afford to study abroad and the interest for the traditional non-European study destinations is decreasing in favour of new study destinations in Europe. This, combined with fact that a foreign degree is still seen as an entry ticket to better career perspectives and the local imbalance in supply and demand of quality educational programmes, makes Indonesia an interesting and potential education market.

The Republic of Indonesia is the largest archipelago country in the world, comprising 17,508 islands stretching along 5,120 kilometers from east to west, and 1,760 kilometers from north to south. The islands scatter over more than one tenth of the equator between Southeast Asia and Australia, covering a land area of around 2 million square kilometers and territorial waters nearly four times that size. The total territorial area is 9.8 million km2, of which 81% consists of sea, while the rest (19%) is terrestrial land. The total coastline length of all islands is 54,716 km.

:: Main islands ::

Java, Bali, Sumatera, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua. There are two large groupings of smaller islands: Maluku and Nusa Tenggara.

:: Main cities ::

  1. Jakarta, the capital city located on the northwest coast Java, is the political and business center of Indonesia.
  2. Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city located in East Java, is a leading industrial center and port.
  3. Medan in North Sumatra, is the third largest city near Singapore/ Selat Malaka.
  4. Other important cities are Bandung, Denpasar, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Padang, Palembang, Makassar, Manado, Banjarmasin, Balikpapan, and Jayapura.

:: Population ::

The total population in 2006 is estimated at 234.6 million with an equal proportion of men and women. According to age structure, the population composition is:

  • 29.1 percent of 0-14 years
  • 65.7 percent of 15-64 years
  • 5.2 percent of 65 years and over

The current estimated population growth rate is 1.45 percent.

Sources: www.bps.go.id, www.bkpm.go.id

Political system

Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system. As a unitary state, power is concentrated in the national government. The president of Indonesia is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces, and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The president appoints the council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature. The president serves a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.

The highest representative body at national level is the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR). Its main functions are supporting and amending the constitution, inaugurating the president, and formalizing broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the president. The MPR comprises two houses; the People’s Consultative Assembly (DPR), with 550 members, and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), with 168 members.

Sources: www.indonesia.go.id


The Indonesian economy has recovered considerably since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis knocked its economy off its feet and devalued the rupiah’s value by more than half. The debt-to-GDP ratio has been declining steadily, and foreign exchange reserves are at an all-time high of over US$50 billion.

Macro Economic Indicators






GDP annual growth (%)






Inflation (%)






GDP by Industrial Sectors (%)

Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Fishery






Mining and Quarrying






Manufacturing Industry






Electricity, Gas, and Water Supply












Trade, Hotel, and Restaurant





Transport & Communication






Finance, Real Estate, & Business Services








GDP per Capita (US$)






Trade relations between the Indonesia and the EU are among the most important of all the South East Asian countries. Due to Indonesia’s export diversification policy (from agricultural products and raw materials towards durable consumer goods such as textiles, shoes, furniture and electronics), the EU became Indonesia’s second largest trading partner (after Japan), and is the main destination for Indonesia’s exports of manufactured goods (oil and gas excluded).

Sources: www.bi.go.id (Economic report), European Commission

Higher education system

:: Types of recognized higher education institutions ::

In 2006 an impressive number of 3,663,435 students were studying at 3,441 Indonesian higher education institutions. The following types can be distinguished:

  • a) Universities (Universitas), both private and public, which are recognized by the Ministry of National Education.
  • b) Institutes (Instituts) and teacher training institutes (Institut Keguruan dan Ilmu Pendidikan or IKIPs) which rank as universities with full degree-granting status.
  • c) Islamic institutes, which have the same rank as universities but come under the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
  • d) Schools (Sekolah Tinggi), both public and private, which offer academic and professional university-level education in one particular discipline.
  • e) Academies (Akademi) which offer Diploma/Certificate technician-level courses at public and private levels. Higher technical/vocational education is offered by Akademi, which are single-faculty academies which confer Diploma level qualifications (up to three years’ study) and in Polytechnics which also confer Diplomas. Diploma Programs are considered to be professional rather than academic.
  • f) Polytechnics (Politeknik), which are technical/vocational schools attached to universities and provide sub-degree junior technician training.

Private universities come under the responsibility of the Directorate of Private Universities within the Directorate General of Higher Education. The Ministry of National Education, through the Directorate General of Higher Education, exercises authority over both state and private institutions.

:: University Programmes and Degrees ::

  • Stage 1: The Sarjana (S1) degree is awarded after completing four years of study. Professional disciplines (medicine, dentistry, science, pharmacy, engineering, etc.) require an additional two to six semesters.
  • Stage 2: The Magister (S2) is awarded after two more years of course work and research following the Sarjana, including the writing of a thesis. Admission requires an undergraduate GPA of between 2.5 and 2.75, letters of recommendation and sometimes English language proficiency.
  • Stage 3: The Doktor (S3) requires additional course work after the Magister and the writing of a dissertation.

:: 50 Promising Indonesian Universities ::

In its effort to boost the internationalization of Indonesian higher education the Indonesian Ministry of National Education has selected 50 promising universities that have the potential to establish cooperation with international institutions. Click here to view the total list.

Sources: Nuffic Country Module Indonesia 2006, www.depdiknas.go.id, UNESCO IAU World Higher Education Database (WHED) – www.unesco.org

Education Market

:: Student profile ::

Exact statistics on the main fields of study chosen by Indonesian students studying abroad are not available as figures tend to be included with those of international students from other countries.

In 2006 Australia Education International noted that interest had widened from the traditionally popular fields of study including Business, IT and Accounting/Finance into Medicine, Health Sciences, Linguistics and Engineering.

:: Most popular study destinations: numbers and trends ::

In 2004, the Institute of International Education (IIE) estimated that 0.9% of Indonesian tertiary students went abroad, equivalent to some 30,000 students based on a total pool of 3,441,429 tertiary students in Indonesia at that time. UNESCO’s estimation of the total number in 2004 is comparable, i.e. 31,687. This market potential is strongly increasing considering the growing middle-class.

Top destinations for Indonesian students in 2004 were as follows:

  • Australia: 10,184 students
  • United States: 8,880 students
  • Malaysia: 4,731 students (2002 data)
  • Germany: 2,570 students (2006 data)
  • Japan: 1,474 students
  • The Netherlands: 1,250 students (2006 data)
  • UK: 560 students (2006 data)

Demand for overseas education in Indonesia is concentrated in the major cities of Java (Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Sumatra), and in the smaller cities of Semarang and Yogyakarta. Australia and the USA are most dominant in the education market in terms of attracting of the largest numbers of Indonesian students, but have been experiencing declining numbers in recent years. The main reason is that other countries are becoming more active in the Indonesian market. Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore have increasingly become important players, but also European countries are becoming more popular. Indonesian students are increasingly looking for alternative study destinations instead of the traditional ones.

Sources: Badan Pusat Statistik, Ikhtisar Data Pendidikan Nasional 2006/07, www.bps.go.id, Neso Indonesia, Institute of International Education (IIE), British Council, DAAD, AEI Indonesia Newsletter 2006.

Useful links

National portal of the Republic of Indonesia: www.indonesia.go.id

Ministry of National Education: www.depdiknas.go.id

Directorate-General of Higher Education, Ministry of National Education: www.dikti.org

EU’s relations with Indonesia: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/indonesia/intro/index.htm

Delegation of the European Commission to Indonesia: www.delidn.ec.europa.eu

EU in Indonesia:


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