The official language of Indonesia is Indonesian (also known as Bahasa Indonesian) and has been the primary tool of communication since independence in 1945. The dialect is a local standardized version of the Malay language which is part of the Austronesian language family. Indonesian is used in formal education, government administration, and mass media throughout the country. Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation on the planet; this large population contributes to Indonesian becoming one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

In the 2010 national census of Indonesia, it was found there were 210 million speakers of the Indonesian language. This equates to approximately 80% of the population, but many citizens know multiple languages. Indonesian is also spoken in some parts of Australia, Brunei, New Caledonia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Thailand. Citizens of Indonesia are often multilingual and can communicate in different dialects.

The Indonesian language is hard to read, but a lot easier to speak. Pronunciation is very similar to Malay with some Selamat pagi is the common greeting for "good morning", and "selamat malam" means good night. People in the country are extremely friendly and talkative and many phrases may be picked up during interactions with locals. "Do you speak English?" is said as "anda bisa bicara bahasa inggris". Thank-you is said as "terima kasih" and will be used a lot during a trip to Indonesia.

Javanese and Sundanese are the most prolific minority languages in Indonesia. Javanese is spoken throughout Java Island and several provinces in Kalimantan and Sumatra by over 80 million people. Sundanese is a popular communication method in Banten, Jakarta, and West Java with approximately 42 million speakers. Balinese is another minority language and is spoken by over 3 million people, mainly in Bali island. All three of these dialects are often spoken within homes and the local communities across the whole country. Indonesia has over 700 indigenous languages, many are highly localised and vary according to the region.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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