Why is Indonesia unique

The religions in Indonesia

Almost 87% of the archipelago's population are Muslim, making Indonesia the most populous Muslim country in the world. In addition, Sharia law only applies in a small part of Indonesia, a theistic country that recognizes six official religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. The originally animistic religion in Indonesia comes from outside contributions mixed with local beliefs. So Bali's Hinduism has little to do with that of its Indian ancestors! It is from this syncretism of the religions that the great tolerance and the good coexistence of the people may come from Religions in Indonesia. The main religious heritage is the Borobudur Temple and the Prambanan Temple near Yogyakarta in Java

Even if Indonesia has not a single religion but many, there is a state philosophy called Pancasila, which is derived directly from the five commandments of Buddhism. Pancasila in Sanskrit: "panca" means five and "sila" means rules, based on the following five rules:

  • Believe in a unique god
  • A just and civilized humanity
  • The unity of Indonesia
  • A democracy led by advice and representation
  • Social justice for all Indonesians

Let's take a closer look at the religions of Indonesia:


All guides will tell you, Indonesia is a land of strong spirituality! Islam is one of the six officially recognized Religions in Indonesia. At the last census in 2010, 87.2% of Indonesians declared themselves Muslims. With a population of 250 million, the country now includes the largest Muslim community in the world. Unlike the "belief in one God", however, Islam is not written into the constitution. The first traces of Islam go back to the 11th century AD. This religion was gradually established in the archipelago through trade networks and the conversion of the rulers. Islam has always consisted of practices and beliefs that preceded the great monotheistic religions. Today supporters of a moderate Islam and a secular state in Indonesia stand up for fighting against the pressure of the Islamic state.

Today we find Islam in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan ...

For more information, see Herman-L Beck's book "The Muslims of Indonesia".


Before the arrival of monotheistic religions, Indonesia was considered a Hindu Buddhist country. Hinduism invaded the archipelago through the Indian Brahmins. They were themselves in the 11th century BC. Invited by Indonesian rulers. Many symbols, names, rites or the temple of Prambanan still show the connection between the archipelago and this belief from India. Today only 2% of the population profess Hinduism. And in Bali we find the vast majority of these believers. During your trip to Bali, you will have no problem finding the many temples or colorful offerings that are placed on the ground every day. Not to mention the ceremonies that bring Balinese people together in traditional outfits, to the delight of our eyes. Even if the people of Bali respect a caste system that originated in India, Balinese Hinduism has its peculiarities and remains a unique one Religion in Indonesia.


Even if Christianity is the greatest religion in the rest of the world, this is it Religion in Indonesia a minority and makes up only 10% of the population. The Christian religion, and more precisely Catholicism, came to Indonesia at the beginning of the 16th century through the Portuguese colonization. Then Protestantism arrived with the Dutch. It wasn't until much later, in the 80s and 90s, that so-called evangelical churches appeared. The latter are now very popular with the Chinese-Indonesian community. Today the largest Christian communities are located in the entire eastern part of the archipelago, for example in New Guinea, Sulawesi or on the island of Flores.


According to the last 2010 census, the Buddhist religion was only 0.72% of the country's population. However, Buddhism is in fact history of Indonesia. Before the arrival of monotheistic religions, Hinduism and Buddhism existed in different kingdoms in Indonesia. Today Buddhism is still one of the officially recognized religions of the state. Buddhists are mainly found in the Chinese population. One of the Buddhist monuments not to be missed is the temple of Borobudur on the island of Java. But you can also see the bronze statue dedicated to Buddha in Sulawesi from the 3rd / 4th centuries. Century AD or visit the remains of the Buddhist province of Riau in Sumatra.


Even if animism is not a religion in the strict sense and is therefore not recognized by the Indonesian state, it is part of the daily life of its people. On your itinerary to Indonesia, no matter where you travel, you will quickly find that any official belief is lined with strong local animism. Ghosts, demons, supernatural powers, sacred mountains, enchanted caves ... For the majority of Indonesians, the supernatural engages with reality every day. In addition, objects or places, such as living beings, have a form of life, a more or less beneficial power. All of these beliefs, which we would call "superstitions" in our western countries, are taken very seriously in the archipelago. So we can only advise you to explore Indonesia with an open mind in order to get some wonderful stories that people will tell you.