This week marks the launch of a free-trade agreement between Australia and Indonesia. Yet, Australians know very little of our most populous neighbour, according to a study from the Lowy Institute. Only 36% of the 2,400 Australians surveyed knew that Indonesia is a democracy. Yet this is just the start of our perceptions about the country. Even at a peripheral level our understanding is very shallow. Many Australians also believe Bali is a separate country to Indonesia.
“As much as Australians express their love of Bali, equally, they express their suspicion and ignorance about the rest of Indonesia.”Ross Taylor, President of Perth’s Indonesia Institute
Indonesia is one of the most linguistically and ethnically diverse countries in the world with a population of 267 million people and encompassing over 17,000 islands.
Religious diversity is another feature of Indonesia. Although it doesn’t have a dominant state religion, the state recognises six official faiths including Islam, Protestants, Christianity, Buddism, and Confucianism.