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More than 700 living languages are spoken in Indonesia.[1] Most belong to the Austronesian language family, with a few Papuan languages also spoken. The official language is Indonesian (locally known as Bahasa Indonesia), a modified version of Malay,[2] which is used in commerce, administration, education and the media, but most Indonesians speak local languages, such as Javanese, as their first language.[1]

Like most writing systems in human history, Indonesia's are not rendered in native-invented systems, but devised by speakers of Sanskrit, Arabic, and Latin. Malay, for example, has a long history as a written language and has been rendered in Indic, Arabic, and Roman writing systems. Javanese has been written in the Nagari and Pallava writing systems of India, in a modified Arabic system called pegon that incorporates Javanese sounds, and in the Roman alphabet. Chinese characters have never been used to express Indonesian languages, although Indonesian place-names, personal names, and names of trade goods appear in reports and histories written for China's imperial courts.[3]

Languages spoken in Indonesia

Largest Languages in Indonesia[4]
(Figures indicate numbers of native speakers except for the national language, Indonesian)

Language Number (millions) Year surveyed Main areas where spoken
Indonesian 230 2008 throughout Indonesia
Javanese 84.3 2000 (census) Central Java and East Java
Sundanese 34.0 2000 (census) West Java
Madurese 13.6 2000 (census) Madura Island, East Java
Minangkabau 5.5 2007 Central Sumatra
Musi 3.9 2000 (census) Southern Sumatra
Bugis 3.5 1991 South Sulawesi
Banjarese 3.5 2000 (census) South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan
Acehnese 3.5 2000 (census) Northern Sumatra
Balinese 3.3 2000 (census) Bali Island and Lombok Island
Betawi 2.7 1993 Jakarta
Sasak 2.1 1989 Lombok Island
Batak Toba 2.0 1991 Northern Sumatra
Makassarese 1.6 1989 South Sulawesi
Batak Dairi 1.2 1991 Northern Sumatra
Batak Simalungun 1.2 2000 (census) Northern Sumatra
Batak Mandailing 1.1 2000 (census) Northern Sumatra
Jambi Malay 1.0 2000 (census) Jambi (Central Sumatra)
Mongondow 0.9 1989 North Sulawesi
Gorontalo 0.9 1989 Gorontalo province (Northern Sulawesi)
Ngaju Dayak 0.9 2003 Southern Kalimantan
Lampung Api 0.8 2000 (census) Lampung (Southern Sumatra)
Nias 0.8 2000 (census) off Western Sumatra coast
Batak Angkola 0.7 1991 Northern Sumatra
North Moluccan Malay 0.7 2001 North Maluku
Chinese (Hokkien and Teochew) 0.7 1982 Northern Sumatra and West Kalimantan
Chinese (Hakka) 0.6 1982 Bangka Belitung and West Kalimantan
Batak Karo 0.6 1991 Northern Sumatra
Uab Meto 0.6 1997 West Timor
Bima 0.5 1989 Sumbawa Island
Manggarai 0.5 1989 Flores Island
Torajan-Sa'dan 0.5 1990 South Sulawesi, West Sulawesi
Komering 0.5 2000 (census) Southern Sumatra
Tetum 0.4 2004 West Timor
Rejang 0.4 2000 (census) Bengkulu (Southwestern Sumatra)
Muna 0.3 1989 off Southwestern Sulawesi coast
Basa Semawa 0.3 1989 Sumbawa Island
Bangka 0.3 2000 (census) Bangka Island
Osing 0.3 2000 (census) at Eastern end of Java
Gayo 0.3 2000 (census) Aceh
Tolaki 0.3 1991 Southeast Sulawesi
Lewotobi language 0.3 2000 Flores Island
Tae' 0.3 1992 South Sulawesi

Graph of Indonesian ethnolinguistics


  1. ^ a b Lewis, M. Paul (2009). "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition.". SIL International. Retrieved 2009-11-17.  
  2. ^ Sneddon, James (2003). The Indonesian Language: Its history and role in modern society. Sydney: University of South Wales Press Ltd.  
  3. ^ Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 29. ISBN 0-300-10518-5.  
  4. ^


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