A Look into Indonesia Culture and Etiquette

indonesia peopleThe Republic of Indonesia is world’s fourth most populous nation with 203 million people living on about one thousand islands out of the available seventeen thousand. Only 35 percent of the population live in the urban setting. Some of its big cities located in Java are Surabaya, Jakarta, Bandung, and Semarang, with Jakarta acting as the capital city of this country.


The official language of Indonesia is known as Indonesian or Bahasa Indonesian. It is a standardized dialect derived from the Malay language and came about during Indonesia’s independence in 1945. Although it is the official language, it is the population’s second language. Indonesians today consider themselves as bilingual. They learn the mother language of their island, and when they enter school, they must learn the official Bahasa Indonesia. The other commonly spread languages are Javanese and Sundanese.


Indonesia is hugely a diverse nation. It is made up of more than 17,500 islands where each province has its language, region, history and ethnic makeup. Most people define themselves locally before doing the same nationally. Different heritage influences many cultural differences. Although the country has the largest Muslim population in the world, there are also significant chunks of other religions such as Christianity, Buddhists, and Hindus. The family setup is very traditional regarding structure, and family members have defined roles.

Etiquette of Indonesian People

indonesia cultureEtiquette, in general, describes the customary code of polite and acceptable behavior visitors and residents are required to portray all times while in Indonesia. There are more than 300 ethnic groups with more than 700 living languages. There are six official religions recognized in Indonesia, and this explains the many traditions and habits spread all over the island. English is spoken widely in Indonesia but far much less outside the major cities and tourist areas. Those looking forward to staying in Indonesia for an extended time might consider learning some basics of Bahasa Indonesia.

Greetings are rather formal as they are meant to show respect. A handshake is the most common greeting and is accompanied by ‘Selamat’ word. Titles are significant in Indonesia as they portray status. In most times, all it takes to adhere to the guidelines of good etiquette in Indonesia is to smile and have a humble demeanor. This country is far more reserved than most western nations. Body language speaks volumes in this country. Shouting or talking loudly in public is seen as an offense.