Common Misconceptions about Life in Indonesia

Many foreigners come to Indonesia from year to year, some only visiting for holidays, while others who choose to live and work in Indonesia. However, there are still many misconceptions about life in Indonesia circulating around.

Now, we are going to debunk these misconceptions about life in Indonesia and Indonesia in general. This list of misconceptions are among the most discussed by foreigners in forums and social media.

Misconception #1: Indonesians living on the trees

It’s true that there are still some local tribes who build their houses on a tree (in very remote are), but majority of Indonesians are civilized. Indonesians wear clothes whenever they go out from their houses, they go to the shopping malls, and they work in high-rise buildings. Indonesia is not a primitive country.

Misconception #2: Indonesia is located in Bali 

This is one of the most common misconceptions about Indonesia. Even there was someone who said that Bali is not a part of Indonesia. Bali is the fact one of the 34 provinces in Indonesia. The capital city of Indonesia is Jakarta, not Bali.

Misconception #3: Indonesia is a radical Islamic country

Indonesia is not an Islamic country, but it has a larger Muslim population than any other country in the world, with approximately 202.9 million identifying themselves as Muslim. The country doesn’t implement Sharia law, although Islam does play a big role in Indonesia. Area like Aceh still applies caning for those who did something that against Islamic law.

Misconception #4: Indonesia is full with terrorists

This is a very sad myth. No, this is no t true. In recent years, the suspects of terrorisms are Muslims, but this doesn’t mean that Indonesia is home to terrorists. They are some extremists in Indonesia but those who terror people are just bad people who are intolerant. Indonesia is a very safe country to be living in.

Misconception #5: Indonesia is a small country 

It may look small on the globe compared to China, but Indonesia is the world’s 4th most populous country. It has more than 17,000 islands and islets, and half of them have been named with 922 of those are permanently inhabited.

Misconception #6: Indonesians are anti-America

It is safe to say that Indonesians love American products and chain stores. If they don’t, then we need to question why Starbucks or BurgerKing are always packed with people. And yes, Indonesians love Apple products (some even dubbed themselves as ‘Apple Snobs’).

Misconception #7: The traffic sucks everyday

In major cities like Jakarta or Surabaya, traffic jam is a common problem. But it doesn’t mean that every day the roads are always packed with vehicles. Try to drive in the main roads in Jakarta during Lebaran holiday, and you’ll feel like the road is a F1 circuit.

Misconception #8: Indonesian foods are spicy

This can be counted as a fact, especially if we talk about certain dishes from Padang (the capital city of West Sumatera). As a rich country, Indonesia has a wide culinary scene and the foods aren’t always spicy. Foods from Yogyakarta or Central Java particularly have sweeter flavors.

Misconception #9: Indonesians don’t speak English much

Bahasa Indonesia is the mother language of Indonesia, so don’t be surprised if a street peddler in typical Indonesia road can’t speak basic English. English is used in work, especially in multinational companies, and also in international schools. However, today many Indonesians can speak American English fluently.

Misconception #10: Indonesians are covered from head to toe

This misconception probably comes from the fact that the majority of Indonesians are Muslims. But, Muslims in Indonesia have mixed with other cultures, so they are more secular. While there are many Muslim Indonesian women wear headscarf, there are also many of them who follow the current Western fashion style. Some women are full-covered, but only a few. In a company or office it’s quite difficult to see a woman wearing long headscarf and long skirt like that.

Any other misconceptions or myths that you usually hear about Indonesia? Share with us!

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