Indonesia Cultural Profile

Indonesian Multiculturalism
The culture of Indonesia has been shaped by long interaction between original indigenous customs and multiple foreign influences. Indonesia is centrally-located along ancient trading routes between the Far East, South Asia and the Middle East, resulting in many cultural practices being strongly influenced by a multitude of religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity. The result is a complex cultural mixture, very different from the original, indigenous cultures.
Examples of the fusion of Islam with Hindu in Javanese Abangan belief, the fusion of Hinduism, Buddhism and animism in Bodha, and the fusion of Hinduism and animism in Kaharingan; others could be cited. Balinese dances have stories about ancient Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms, while Islamic art forms and architecture are present in Sumatra, especially in the Minangkabau and Aceh regions. Traditional art, music and sport are combined in a martial art form called Pencak Silat.
Western culture has greatly influenced Indonesia in science, technology and modern entertainment such as television shows, film and music, as well as political system and issues. Nowadays, India and korean movies are popular among Indonesian youth.
Pluralism, diversity and multiculturalism are a daily fact of life in Indonesia. There are over 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia. 95% of those are of Native Indonesian ancestry. The Javanese are the largest ethnic group in Indonesia, which makes up nearly 42% of the total population. The Sundanese, Malay, and Madurese are the next largest groups in the country. There are also more than 740 living languages spoken in Indonesia, and, although predominantly Muslim, the country also has large Christian and Hindu populations.
Indonesia's national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ("Unity in Diversity") is enshrined in Pancasila national ideology, articulates the diversity that shapes the country. The government promotes the diversity of Indonesian local culture, adopting a pluralist approach.
Indonesia has managed to maintain unity and inter-cultural harmony, through national adherence of pro-pluralism policy of Pancasila, promoted and enforced by the government and its people.
Pancasila, the State Philosophy
Pancasila, pronounced Panchaseela, is the philosophical basis of the Indonesian state. Pancasila consists of two Sanskrit words, "panca" meaning five, and "sila" meaning principle. It comprises five inseparable and interrelated principles.
  1. Belief in the One and Only God 
    This principle of Pancasila reaffirms the Indonesian people's belief that God does exist. It also implies that the Indonesian people believe in life after death. It emphasizes that the pursuit of sacred values will lead the people to a better life in the hereafter. The principle is embodied in article 29, Section I of the 1945 Constitution and reads: "The state shall be based on the belief in the One and Only God".
  2. Just and Civilized Humanity 
    This principle requires that human beings be treated with due regard to their dignity as God's creatures. It emphasizes that the Indonesian people do not tolerate physical or spiritual oppression of human beings by their own people or by any other nation.
  3. The Unity of Indonesia 
    This principle embodies the concept of nationalism, of love for one's nation and motherland. It envisages the need to always foster national unity and integrity. Pancasila nationalism demands that Indonesians avoid feelings of superiority on ethnical grounds, for reasons of ancestry and color of the skin. In 1928 Indonesian youth pledged to have one country, one nation and one language, while the Indonesian coat of arms enshrines the symbol of "Bhinneka Tunggallka" which means "unity in diversity".
  4. Democracy Guided by the Inner Wisdom in the Unanimity Arising Out of Deliberations Amongst Representatives. 
    Pancasila democracy calls for decision-making through deliberations, or musyawarah, to reach a consensus, or mufakat. It is democracy that lives up to the principles of Pancasila. This implies, that democratic right must always be exercised with a deep sense of responsibility to God Almighty according to one's own conviction and religious belief, with respect for humanitarian values of man's dignity and integrity, and with a view to preserving and strengthening national unity and the pursuit of social justice.
    Thus, Pancasila Democracy means democracy based on the people's sovereignty which is inspired by and integrated with other principles of Pancasila. This means that the use of democratic rights should always be in line with responsibility towards God Almighty according to the respective faith: uphold human values in line with human dignity; guarantee and strengthen national unity; and be aimed at realizing social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia.
  5. Social Justice for the Whole of the People of Indonesia 
    This principle calls for the equitable spread of welfare to the entire population, not in a static but in a dynamic and progressive way. This means that all the country's natural resources and the national potentials should be utilized for the greatest possible good and happiness of the people.
    Social justice implies protection of the weak. But protection should not deny them work. On the contrary, they should work according to their abilities and fields of activity. Protection should prevent willful treatment by the strong and ensure the rule of justice.
These are the sacred values of Pancasila which, as a cultural principle, should always be respected by every Indonesian because it is now the ideology of the state and the life philosophy of the Indonesian people.
Indonesia’s Ethnic Diversity