Indonesia stretches over the world’s largest archipelago, consisting of 17,000 volcanic islands, of which only approx. 6000 are inhabited. The islands are located along the equator, which means that the climate is very hot and there is a high humidity. However, several of Indonesia’s mountains are so high above the surrounding tropical jungle that they have ice on top.
The country has a completely unique nature. You can experience different types of volcanoes, crystal clear water, beautiful rice fields, religious monuments, jungle and much more.
Indonesians are typically social and incredibly friendly. The country’s motto is “unity in diversity”, which means “community in diversity”. It is appropriate for a nation whose population includes about 300 ethnic groups who together speak more than 500 different languages and dialects. The majority of Indonesia’s population is Muslim.
- CAPITAL CITY: Jakarta
- LANGUAGE: Indonesian
- CURRENCY: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
- AREA: 1,904,569 km2
- POPULATION: 255,461,700 (2015 estimate)
People and community
Indonesians give high priority to family life. You can expect to attend regular gatherings with your host family’s family. The elderly are highly respected. You should make sure to consult your host parents before making any major decisions.
It is considered important to be a member of the larger community. Many Indonesians tend to feel in debt to their village, their mosque or their professional organization. Communication can be very indirect and there are actually twelve different ways to say “no” in Baha’i Indonesian languages.
You will probably have to go to a public school, where the school week lasts from Monday to Saturday, and the school day from 7:00 to 13:30. On Friday, the school closes at 11:00 am due to Muslim prayer. According to TopSchoolsintheUSA, you must wear a school uniform. After school you can learn traditional Indonesian music or dance.
Although more than 583 ethnic languages and dialects are spoken in the country, the official language is Indonesian. It can be helpful for you to have a basic knowledge of English. AFS offers language lessons and you will receive material before your departure.
The Indonesian cuisine combines the techniques and ingredients of the natives with influences from India, the Middle East, China and Europe – including products brought by Spanish and Portuguese merchants before the Dutch colonized the islands.
Cooking varies greatly from area to area, but fish, coconut and chili served with rice is an everyday dish. The most important meal in Indonesia is usually lunch or dinner. During cooking there are fixed roles, and at the dinner table there is a hierarchy.