Indonesia is a southeastern Asian country that contains the world’s largest population of Muslims. It’s also the world’s 4th largest country in terms of population with over a quarter of a billion people residing in it. These are considerations that suggest that knowledge about the country ought to be far more normal within the United States than it often feels like it is. I myself have read about Indonesia for years and even speak and read in the language at a very basic level. The purpose of this post is to introduce readers to Indonesia and begin establishing a precedent for future posts on the country and others outside of Latin-America and the United States. I’ll be writing far more extensive posts on the country that dig into specific developments and cultural ideas in the future.
Indonesia has 34 provinces (which are where members of the Regional Representative Council come from) which have their own legislators and governors. 5 of these possess unique statuses and varying levels of independence and/or unique limitations which differ from the rest of the nation. The further divisions within Indonesian regions are complicated but each province is divided into regencies (this is apparently for more rural areas but is a unit equal to cities) and cities which have representative leaders and officials named regents and mayors respectively as well as unique legislative chambers (this is the case throughout the country aside from the region of Jakarta, which is one of the five previously mentioned areas with unique statuses, and in this case it’s where the mayor is not elected but directly appointed by the governor). Further divisions divide these areas into districts and administrative villages and these contain their own divisions as well but generally, the regencies and the cities are the main administrative areas which provide government services, but the village level is where the key area in which administrative officials influence the lives of citizens and villages have their own chiefs.
Indonesia is a republic with significant amounts of its power concentrated in its central government. Its highest representative body is the People’s Consultative Assembly is made up of two houses the People’s Representative Council which is the more influential branch of Indonesia’s representative body and has direct power independently of any other branch of government and the Regional Representative Council. In Indonesian its initials are DPR and currently due to Indonesia’s multiparty system and the extensive 560 members of this chamber no single party has a majority of seats and instead there are coalitions with the government coalition which is made up of 7 of the nation’s 10 parties currently controlling a majority of the 560 seats and who are currently in possession of 386 seats. The Regional Representative Council, the DPD is a smaller and generally weaker normally non-partisan body which exists to provide advice and counsel to the DPR on regional issues, it can propose regional bills and must be consulted when it comes to regional bills originating from the DPR.
Indonesia’s next elections are in 2019 and mark the first time that the presidential election and the legislative election are happening at the same time.
Religion In Indonesia:
As previously mentioned Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims with the specific number estimated to be 227 million as of 2010 and an ultra-majority being Sunni (more than 99%) with a barely detectable population of Shia and Ahmadis Muslims (a form of Islam from India that differs from other Muslim ideologies because they believe that the Messiah/Mahdi or Guided One came to Earth in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad an influential Muslim leader who lived in the mid 19th century until the early 20th century and whose life set events in motion that’ll eventually lead to Islam becoming the dominant religion and the world being in a state of lasting peace). There’s also a quantifiable percentage of Indonesia Christians, Buddhists, and believers of local religions.
Atheists exist in Indonesia in a small number that is difficult to quantify or estimate because of cases of discrimination against atheists and the threats imposed on both apostates and other atheists as well as social stigma against atheists and other nonbelievers. One especially notable example of this occurring was when Alexander Aan (who is an ex-Muslim and thus both an atheist and an apostate) was sentenced to 30 months in prison for stating on social media that God doesn’t exist and for “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility”. He was charged with blasphemy, encouraging others to become atheists, and inciting religious hatred. Ultimately he was sentenced to 30 months through the charge that he was disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred, and the other charges were dropped. He served his sentence and was released in January of 2014.
Opening The Door:
This wasn’t meant to be an extensive article and it ended up being far longer than I had anticipated it being. This is meant to provide an extremely basic introduction to Indonesia and make it less random when articles devoted to Indonesia and Indonesian news appear on this blog. Another country this will be done for is Croatia.
I plan on writing considerably more in the future and making this blog super active again. I just days ago moved to the DMV area, and am working on all sorts of posts for this blog so I hope that’s exciting news for readers. If you like the blog and want to help it out, consider becoming a Patreon!