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Indonesia - People

Indonsia has a population of about 250,000,000, or about 237.6 million according to preliminary 2010 census figures released in August 2010); with an annual growth rate of 1.1 percent. There are about 350 recognized ethnolinguistic groups in Indonesia, 180 located in Papua; 13 languages have more than 1 million speakers. The official national language is Bahasa Indonesia (or Indonesian), a modified form of Malay. an estimated 83 percent of the population can speak Bahasa Indonesia, with estimated 17 million to 30 million mother-tongue speakers and more than 140 million second-language speakers or readers. At least 731 other languages and dialects also spoken, some by large numbers: Javanese (83 million), Sundanese (30 million), Malay/Indonesian (17 million), and Madurese (nearly 6.7 million). Other languages with more than 1 million speakers each are Acehnese, Balinese, Banjarese, Batak (including Toba), Batawi, Buginese, Minangkabau, and Sasak.

Ethnicity is a means of identification in certain situations but not in others. For example, during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, peasants from Java might emphasize their Islamic faith and affiliation, whereas in other settings they emphasize their membership in the national state by attending school, participating in family-planning programs, and belonging to village cooperatives. Indonesian society comprises numerous ethnic groups. The Javanese are the largest, at 41.0 percent of the total population. Sundanese make up 15.0 percent, followed by Malays (3.4 percent) and Madurese (3.3 percent). More than 14 percent of the population consists of numerous small ethnic groups or minorities. The precise extent of this diversity is unknown, however, because the Indonesian census stopped reporting data on ethnicity in 1930, under the Dutch, and only started again in 2000. In that year’s census, nine categories of ethnicity were reported (by age-group and province): Jawa, Sunda and Priangan, Madura, Minangkabau, Betawi, Bugis and Ugi, Ban-ten, Banjar and Melayu Banjar, and lainnya (other).

The character of Indonesia’s education system reflects the country’s diverse religious heritage, its struggle for a national identity, and the challenge of resource allocation in a poor but developing archipelagic nation with a population that is young (median age 27.6 years) and growing (at an estimated annual rate of about 1.1 percent) in 2009. Tremendous progress has been made toward the goal of universal education since 1973, when nearly 20 percent of youth were illiterate. At that time, then-President Suharto issued an order to set aside portions of oil revenues for the construction of new primary schools. This act resulted in the construction or repair of nearly 40,000 primary-school facilities by the late 1980s, and literacy rates improved significantly nationwide. During 1997–98, the financial crisis affected the poorest families the most, resulting in their selectively cutting back on their education expenditures. Government funding struggled to keep up with rising costs during this period, but by 2002, according to the World Bank, only 2 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 24 could not read, and by 2009, the adult literacy rate was 90.4 percent. Since the 1980s, health in Indonesia has shown overall improvement. Life expectancy was estimated at 70.8 years in 2009, a substantial increase since 1980, when it stood at 52.9 years. However, the distribution of improvements, like the distribution of resources for health maintenance and improvement, has been unequal. In 2003 life expectancy was 72 years in Jakarta and Yogyakarta but only 63 years in Nusa Tenggara Barat Province. Whereas infant mortality nationwide decreased from an average of 105.0 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1980 to 75.2 in 1990, to 36.0 in 2000, and to an estimated 29.9 in 2009, local rates varied dramatically. The poor, rural, and less-educated classes generally suffered much higher mortality rates than their educated urban counterparts.

In 2008 about 89 percent of the urban population in Indonesia had access to clean water, and about 60 percent had access to piped water, mostly from a shared faucet.The major cause of death in Indonesia is from communicable diseases, mainly resulting from a lack of clean water. Tuberculosis is the second-leading cause of death and the first among infectious diseases. Malaria also is a major public-health problem, as are seasonal episodes of dengue hemorrhagic fever in both urban and rural areas, according to the WHO.

As the world’s largest archipelago, and fourth most populous country, the diverse nation of Indonesia faces environmental and social challenges of breathtaking scope. While improved access to education has resulted in lower birthrates, rising incomes, better health, and greater levels of political participation, it has also come at a severe cost to the environment. The preservation of the country’s rich ethnic, linguistic, and ecological diversity must increasingly be negotiated in relation to the homogenizing influences of the ever more integrated and interconnected national and international economies. Achieving a sustainable balance among these interests will be one of the central challenges facing Indonesia in the coming decades.

Indonesia is a young nation. In 2008 it was estimated that the median age was 27.6 years for the total population (males, 27.1; females, 28.1). The overall age structure was such that 28 percent of the population was age 14 or younger, 66 percent was 15–64 years old, and 6 percent was 65 or older. Based on estimates for 2009, Indonesians aged nine or younger represent the largest age cohort, totaling some 44.9 million, or nearly 19 percent of the population (see fig. 7). Indonesia’s gender ratio is fairly balanced, and comparable to that of its regional neighbors: the 2009 estimate was 1.05 males born for every female born, the same as for Australia, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste. Malaysia’s gender ratio stood at 1.07:1 and Singapore’s at 1.08:1.

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Page last modified: 16-08-2013 18:52:21 ZULU