The Indonesian Context

In order to understand the extent of the double burden in Indonesia, there needs to be some kind of context and background information of the country and its demographics right? Let’s gain more insight into the demographics of Indonesia, with its 258,316,051 inhabitants.


Map of Indonesia (very useful for a country like Indonesia!)



Population distribution
Indonesia is a country that consists of about 17,500 islands, many is it? However, “only” 6,000 of them that are inhabited. The five main islands are Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi, and New Guina, and two major archipelagos; Nusa Tenggara and the Maluku Islands. Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populated country, but there are very large differences between the population of the different islands. About 60% of the country’s population lives on Java and it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Let’s see how the population was distributed in 2013…

[Source: Indonesia Health Profile 2013, Ministry of Health]

So what did you noticed? Did you compared the number of people living in certain areas/islands and looked at the map to have an idea of the sizes of these areas/islands? Many people live in areas which are actually far smaller than the areas where less people live is it?! For example, West Papua where the minority of Indonesian inhabitants live is much bigger than West Java where the majority of inhabitants live.

So let’s integrated this information into one map, to see the population density. The population density shows the average number of the population per 1 square kilometer.

blog-2[Source: Indonesia Health Profile 2013, Ministry of Health]

Now we can see it even more clear: in the larger areas the population density is less than 35 per square kilometer. In the smaller areas the population density can be even more than 250 per square kilometer. We now know that this is not only due to the fact that these areas are smaller, but more due to the fact that many more people live in these areas.

Age structure
Wondering how old the 258,316,051 inhabitants are on average?
Well, the majority of the Indonesians (42,35%) are between 25 and 54 years old, about a quarter between 0 and 14 years and the minority of the population (6,79%) is 65 years and older, followed by the group Indonesians between 55-65 years old with 8.4% of the population. And last, but not least, we have the group between 15 to 24 years old, which is about 17,03% of the Indonesian population. So, now you can do the calculation of the average yourself 😉 !
But we can also visualize it, by making a population pyramid…

[Source: CIA, 2016]

The pyramid and the percentages showed us that Indonesia has quite high number of young inhabitants. The body of the pyramid is wide, which reflects an increase of life expectancy and an increase of wealth and health condition.




In terms of the economic context: did you know that Indonesia is classified as a lower-middle-income country?

So what does that actually mean?

This categorization is made by the Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD) and it means that these countries have a gross national income per person between 1,036 and 4,085 dollar. However, the country continues to grow economically despite its status as a lower-middle income country.

Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia, but since 2012 the economic growth slowed down. This is due to the fact that the export boom  of the commodities had come to an end. Did you know that during the global financial crisis, Indonesia together with India and China were the only G20 members that were still growing? Furthermore, the Government of Indonesia managed to lower its debt-to-GDP ratio from 100% in 1999 (which was shortly after the financial crisis of Asia) to less than 25% today.
Do you know what the agriculture products of Indonesia are? Let’s list them…
  • tapping latex from the rubber treeRubber and similar products
  • Palm oil
  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Forest products
  • Shrimp
  • Cocoa
  • Coffee
  • Medicinal herbs
  • Essential oil
  • Fish and its similar products
  • Spices

What about the industry products?

rose1.Petroleum and natural gas
4.Electrical appliances
12.Medical instruments and appliances
13.Chemical fertilizers
14.Processed food
16.And not to mention tourism.

So how is Indonesia now doing financially?
Poverty and unemployment is still a big issue in Indonesia and affects a big population of people, however, it has been greatly reduced over the last few decades. About 32 million people still live in poverty and about half of all households still remain around the national poverty line of about US$22 a month. Employment rates have also increased and have contributed to fall in poverty rates.
Other factors that remain a challenge are corruption, an inadequate infrastructure, an unequal distribution of resources between regions and a regulatory environment which is quite complex.
The good new is that the subsidies for fuels is reduced significantly since 2015, which resulted in the Government redirecting its spending to development priorities.