Background and status
Bahasa Indonesia is the official language of Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,508 islands with a total population of nearly 242 million. Over 300 different native languages are spoken in Indonesia. Although Bahasa Indonesia is spoken as a mother tongue by only 7% (about 30 million) of the total population, it is the national language and is used by 200 million people as their second language.
Most Indonesians are bilingual, and many are proficient, to varying degrees, in three or four languages. They learn at least one of the country’s many local languages at home, and later learn Indonesian in school. Generally, Indonesian tends to be used in larger urban areas, while local languages are more widely used in small towns and rural areas.
Growth and usage
Bahasa Indonesian is the official language of government administration and serves as the medium of instruction at all levels of education, although English textbooks are used in specialized university courses. It is the dominant language of the country’s mass media. Domestic TV programs are entirely in Indonesian, and almost all foreign programs are subtitled or dubbed into Indonesian. It is also the language of literature and popular culture such as TV melodramas and comedy, pop novels, popular songs, cartoons, and comics.
Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world. Of its large population the number of people who fluently speak Indonesian is fast approaching 100%, thus making Indonesian one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.
Not only this, many observers and analysts have projected the Indonesian economy will soon move into the world’s top 15 economies. The same analysts go as far to suggest that, by 2030, the country could be the world’s 7th-largest economy, overtaking the United Kingdom and Germany. This reflects some of the country’s remarkable underlying strengths: its large population, demographics, resource base, and growing household incomes.
Indonesia and its language has truly become an investor’s dream.