Learn About Indonesia – Land of 70,000 Islands

Mount Merapi, a volcano in Indonesia

This will be an ongoing resource for all things Indonesia. Note: this page includes affiliate links – I may earn a commission from links clicked at no cost to you.

Halo! Salam. Apa kabar. The island-state nation of Indonesia is home to 270 million people and around 70,000 islands. The population is spread out on an archipelago of around 900 inhabited islands across the South China Sea, the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This 4th largest country on Earth by population is waiting to be discovered by you, today.

Indonesia on a Map

Map from ASEAN UP, and created in 2008

Today we’ll go over resources for a Unit Study on Indonesia.

  • Indonesia on a Map
  • Picture Books
  • Children’s Books on Human Rights and Sustainable Farming
  • Movies
  • Indonesian Food
  • Documentaries
  • Resources for Indonesia
  • Animal Study
  • Music

Here are some great options for Indonesia in picture books:

Indonesian Children’s Favorite Stories: Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales, by Joan Suyenaga and illustrated by Salim Martowiredjo

Beato Goes To Indonesia, by Sucheta Rawal – Beato is a cat who travels to Indonesia

All About Indonesia: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and Games For Kids, by Linda Hobbs (Linda Hobbs is a decades-long Indonesian language teacher after studying the Indonesian language in college)

Indonesia and Human Rights Stories

Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story, by Robin Stevenson, photographed by Rainer Oktovianus Designed around a true story based on the photographer’s life, this tells the story of a family Rainier and Eka, and their family cat named Ghost, as they navigate the challenges of living in Indonesia when the law creates unequal and dangerous treatment of the LGBTQ community. Eka and Ranier leave Indonesia to become refugees in Canada. This book describes the immigration process in Canada, with plenty of cat photography to keep the children interested. This book is a gentle introduction into discrimination, for ages 5 to 10.

Indonesian Farming: a science lesson on rice production

Cycles of Rice, Cycles of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming, by Jan Reynolds

This book is a story of the traditional rice production of Bali, an area of Indonesia with one of the largest productions of rice in the world. Through hydroengineering, the Balinese farmers have created a system of sustainable rice farming. This book is great for ages 5 to 8.

Indonesia in Movies

The Salt of the Earth is a documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2015. Made by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribiero Salgado, it looks at some of Indonesia’s untouched land. This movie shows the harm done as companies exploit the natural resources of the environment for profit, and how local people are harmed in the process.

June & Kopi

This is a heartwarming family story, a movie about a rescue dog. It is billed as a comedy overall, with Common Sense Media rating it age 6+ by parents, and 8+ by children. There is a finale moment of self-sacrifice, where the dog saves the family’s life. While the movie is overall a loving, laughing, cuddly dog movie, prepare the tissue boxes.

It is available on Netflix in the US as of writing this. Children will need to be old enough to read English subtitles to get the most out of this movie (or speak Indonesian!)

One of the Youtube reviews says “This is literally the best movie.” It’s going on my soon-to-watch movies as we travel (from home) to this dog-led adventure through Indonesia https://www.netflix.com/title/81347579

Indonesian Food

Indonesian food is as varied as the 250 million people of the country. Here are some websites for getting that soto batawi (Jakarta soup) or nasi gareng (fried rice)

A list of 50 famous Indonesian food dishes, with pictures: https://migrationology.com/indonesian-food/

Indonesian food recipes: https://indonesiaeats.com/

A recipe for a vegetarian Indonesian dish, spicy green beans (sambal goreng): https://stefangourmet.com/2014/10/07/indonesian-spicy-green-beans-sambal-goreng-buncissambalboontjes/

I found it very hard to find vegetarian Indonesian dishes. Overall it seemed like a dish list that featured a lot of meats (chicken, seafood, fish, beef, goat, shrimp, octopus rounding out the list of proteins available to the nation of Indonesia)

Indonesia in Documentaries and Videos

National Geographic Indonesia – 90 seconds of Indonesia, looking so beautiful

Indonesia geography Geography Now is the best, and this is no exception. This fifteen minute video will have you passing all your tests about Indonesia

Indonesian Sinking Village – The village of Bedono in Central Java is now down to 200 villagers, and sinking fast. This video shows the effects of sea level rise, caused by the destruction of mangroves (which help the land from subsiding back into the sea) and rising water levels. The village has lost more than a mile deep of its prior coastline. The ending shows what is being done by the remaining village leaders to combat the situation.

Magnificant Cities: The Hidden Chaos of Jakarta – From small village to a vibrant city of 10 million people. This show about Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta takes a moment to show the role of Indonesian women. Many Indonesian women wear hijabs due to their Muslim faith, but do it in a modern way. With the ethnic and cultural diversity, head coverings are not mandatory for Indonesian women.

Jakarta became a major city during the country’s time in colonization by the Dutch.

There’s a portion that shows local Indonesian foods, like gingko and bone soup. There’s Javanese theater shown.

Komodo Dragons, with National Geographic

Lake Toba: The Lake Toba was created after a supervolcanic eruption. Here you can see Lake Toba, and a waterfall, in the area of North Sumatra. This video has amazing drone footage of the Indonesian landscape, the geography of this beautiful place. Perhaps the overlay of the speaker’s voice could spark a conversation with the family on how to be a morally respectful tourist. He does some things that are positive, has areas of improvements, and it would be a great discussion topic. (In addition to the stunning hills and waterfalls.)

Borobudur Temple – this temple is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. It is an ancient ruin that was abandoned, laying under volcanic ash and jungle overgrowth. The Borobudur Temple is in Central Java.

Indonesian History: Indonesia’s Spice Kingdom, The Mark of the Majapahit Empire

Majapahit Empire was a several hundred year empire in Indonesia. This Hindu empire was a trading giant in the region. CNA Insider is a Singapore public broadcast channel.

This video begins looking at modern Indonesian students in a classroom, and discussing where their families come from. The national motto of Indonesia is “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika“, which means Unity in Diversity. This is a quote from an Old Javanese poem Kakawin Sutasoma, and highlights the multiethnic and multireligious nature of Indonesia.

Is Indonesia a Muslim Country?

Indonesia is the country with the largest Muslim population in the world. While the country recognizes six religions, Islam is the majority religion within Indonesia. This video show how Indonesia became Muslim, as Islamic missions arrived to Indonesia in the eighth century, and began converting the region of Sumatra by the eleventh century. Indonesia was once ruled by the Hindu empire of Majapahit, but has since converted much of the country. The Muslim population of Indonesia is around 225 million people. Almost ninety percent (86.7%) of the country is Muslim.

Komodo Island – another travel, adventure video that shows the people, cultures, and daily life of Komodo Island and Flores Island, two islands of Indonesia (3 minutes)

Indonesia in Resources

There are 34 provinces in Indonesia. This lists the capital of each province within Indonesia

Indonesian Language – to learn about the language or to learn how to speak the language.

Javanese Language – learn about this language spoken as the native language by 80 million people, especially on the island of Java in Indonesia.

Indonesia 2004 Tsunami

In 2004, a 9.1 earthquake struck, generating a tsunami in its aftermath that took the lives of 130,000 people.

This is the link to Curiosity Stream‘s documentary on Indonesia’s tsunami

Here is an 8 minute clip from PBS on how the tsunami overtook areas of Lampuuk. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/tsunami

The Ship that Landed On A Roof and Saved 59 People, BBC. Article Here.

Indonesian Animals

Indonesia has around 180 species of mammals in its country.

However, the Indonesian national animal is a reptile, the Komodo Dragon.

But Indonesia is also known for its stunning invertebrates.

Kakaban Island: Jellyfish!

Kakaban in Indonesia is home to the world’s largest jellyfish lake. The jellyfish are non-venomous. This video has close-up shots of the lake’s plentiful jellyfish population. (Video includes people wearing swimsuits)

This next video is not officially in Indonesia, but if you are wanting more jellyfish, here is a video from Palau. There are Rock Islands in the nation of Palau, that were formed when coral reefs were thrust out of the water into becoming landforms. Palau is on the map on this webpage above, it is about 50 miles east of the Philippines. While not a part of Indonesia, I didn’t want to let this jellyfish action go unnoticed. Hope you enjoy!

What is the capital of Indonesia?

Jakarta, a province that is home to over 10 million people, is the capital of Indonesia.

What is the flag of Indonesia?

It is a simple design, a flag that is red on top, and white on the bottom.

The Indonesia flag

When did Indonesia gain its independence?

November 2, 1949 is when Dutch and Indonesian representatives agreed that Indonesia would be its independent nation. Prior to that, the Dutch had abandoned their colony over to Japan in 1942. Japan held onto the Dutch East Indies (the name for Indonesia) until they surrendered on August 17, 1945. Indonesia was then free of Japanese interference, but the Dutch would try twice more to retake its former colony before the effort proved unsuccessful.

What languages do they speak in Indonesia?

Indonesia has more than 300 languages spoken in its borders, but the nation predominantly uses Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language) as the main language spoken. .

The Indonesian language is heavily influenced by Malay, especially in the northwestern regions of the country close to Malaysia. Many people in Indonesia also speak Java as their first language.

Javanese is another prominent language in Indonesia, as the primary spoken language of 100 million people.

What continent is Indonesia on?

Indonesia is on the Asian continent. This can be seen in plate tectonics, where Indonesia is on land with such low-lying levels that much of the land mass is submerged under water.

What Time Is It In Indonesia?

Click here to find out. Indonesia spans across 3 time zones, from UTC+7 to UTC+9. This means that they arrive at a time 7 to 9 hours before London, England does.

Jakarta, Indonesia is around 11 hours ahead of New York City or 14 hours ahead of California. However, this changes depending on the time of they year, due to US Daylight Savings Time.

Who is Indonesia’s President?

Joko Widodo is the President of Indonesia. He was elected in 2014, and is the 7th President of Indonesia. For a more up-to-date recounting, here is the list of past Indonesian presidents.

Are there earthquakes in Indonesia?

Today, there are an average of four earthquakes per day in Indonesia. This site does an excellent job recording them all.

Are there volcanoes on Indonesia?

Indonesia is home to the larg est active volcano in the world.

Which country had a plane missing, that resulted in a 737 crash?

Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ 182 crashed into the Java Sea in January 9, 2021, causing the loss of all 62 people on board. The 737 airliner took off from Jakarta, and landed in the Java Sea.

What are the biggest cities in Indonesia?

Jakarta is the largest city in Indonesia, with over 10 million people. Surabaya, in East Java, is a city home to 3 million people. Bandung, in West Java, has 2.5 million residents. Medan, in North Sumatra, is also home to 2.5 million residents (that is near the beautiful Lake Toba). Semarang, in Central Java, is home to another 2 million people.

The remaining cities in Indonesia with over a million inhabitants are: Palembang, Makassar, Batam, Pekanbaru, and Bandar Lampung.

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