The Languages of Indonesia

Indonesian is the official language of the Republic of Indonesia (which is known as Bahasa Indonesia. Bahasa means ‘language’.). It was declared as the official language upon independence of the republic in 1945. Over 23 million people speak it and it is the equivalent of a Malay dialect.

Indonesia’s official language is also spoken in parts of Australia (Cocos Islands and Christmas Island), Brunei, Timor, New Caledonia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, southern Thailand, and Surinam.

While almost all Indonesian citizens speak it fluently, there are over 365 active languages and dialects in the archipelago. Many small islands even have their own language, such as Bali. On other islands, many more languages are spoken, and because of this diversity of languages, it was necessary to unify the republic with a single language that would be common to all.

Here are some regional languages or dialects actively spoken in Indonesia:

* Rejang (South Sumatra)
* Dairi Batak (North Sumatra)
* Toraja (South Sulawesi)
* Lampung (South Sumatra)
* Makassarese (South Sulawesi)
* Toba Batak (North Sumatra)
* Sasak (Lombok)
* Banjarese (South Kalimantan)
* Acehnese (North Sumatra)
* Balinese (Bali and Lombok)
* Buginese (South Sulawesi)
* Minangkabau (Central Sumatra)
* Mature (Madura and Java)
* Sundanese (Java)
* Javanese (Java).

The majority of Indonesian words have their origins in the Austronesian languages. Almost 80% of the words come from Malaysia. In addition, history has left its distinct mark, and there is evidence of influence from Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, and Portuguese, and even Sanskrit and Tamil have left their mark.

For any questions about Asian languages and dialects, you can visit “Translation Services.”

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