Indonesia – islandic cultural diversity

We started our study visit by two long flights from Belgrade via Doha (Qatar) to Jakarta (Indonesia).

As soon as we landed after almost 24 hours of flying and waiting for the flights, we landed in Jakarta. At first, we thought that something was wrong with the flight entertainement and information system since it was showing that we landed 1 meter below the sea…But, during our visit we discovered why – because Jakarta has been sinking. ☹

As soon as we arrived, we met our local partners and host from – 2030 Youth Force Indonesia. The organization inspires youth to engage in promotion of Sustainable Development Goals and initiate actions to drive positive changes towards an inclusive and peaceful society in Indonesia. Using SDG-16 as an entry point, the network will focus on peace-building along with strengthening youth capacities for participation in decision-making.

Indonesia is a big islandic country located in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire. the estimated population of Indonesia is approximately 276 million people. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, following China, India, and the United States. The population of Indonesia is diverse, with various ethnic groups, languages, and cultures spread across the archipelago. It’s important to note that population figures can change over time due to factors such as birth rates, mortality rates, migration, and other demographic factors. The country is prone to various natural disasters. Some of the biggest disasters that we heard of were:

2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami: On December 26, 2004, a massive undersea earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, triggering a devastating tsunami. This disaster resulted in the loss of approximately 230,000 lives across multiple countries, with Indonesia being the hardest hit. Because of this disaster, the Government of Indonesia in 2008 established the National Agency for Disaster Management or Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB) that we visited during our trip.

The BNPB is responsible for coordinating disaster management efforts at the national level in Indonesia. Its primary role includes disaster risk reduction, emergency response coordination, post-disaster recovery, and capacity building. The agency collaborates with various ministries, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and international partners to strengthen disaster management strategies and ensure effective disaster response and recovery.

The BNPB works to improve disaster preparedness, early warning systems, and emergency response mechanisms across the country. They provide guidance, support, and resources to local governments, communities, and relevant stakeholders to enhance their capacity in dealing with natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods, and landslides. We were impressed with their huge screens that are in real time showing the map of Indonesia and any possible shake or disaster.

We also spoke with BNPB and other organizations that we visited such as UNFPA Indonesia, Red Cross etc.

2010 Mount Merapi Eruptions: Mount Merapi, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes located in Central Java, experienced a series of eruptions in October and November 2010. These eruptions released pyroclastic flows, ash clouds, and volcanic ash rain, causing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and resulting in the loss of more than 350 lives.

2018 Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami: On September 28, 2018, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The earthquake triggered a tsunami that affected the city of Palu and surrounding areas. The combined impact of the earthquake and tsunami led to the deaths of over 4,300 people and widespread destruction.

2018 Lombok Earthquakes: Between July and August 2018, the Indonesian island of Lombok experienced a series of strong earthquakes. The largest earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.0, struck on August 5. These earthquakes caused significant damage to buildings, infrastructure, and claimed the lives of around 560 people.

2019 Krakatoa Eruption and Tsunami: On December 22, 2018, the Anak Krakatau volcano, located in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, erupted. The eruption triggered a deadly tsunami that struck the coastal areas of Java and Sumatra. The disaster resulted in the loss of approximately 430 lives and caused significant damage to coastal communities.

And one of the ongoing disasters is that Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is sinking. The city is experiencing land subsidence, which is the gradual sinking of the land surface. There are several factors contributing to this issue:

Groundwater Extraction: Jakarta’s rapid population growth and urbanization have resulted in increased demand for groundwater. As a consequence, excessive groundwater extraction has led to the depletion of aquifers, causing the underlying layers of the land to compact and sink.

Soft and Compressible Soil: Jakarta is built on soft, clay-like soil known as “Jakarta Bay mud.” This type of soil is highly compressible and prone to consolidation when subjected to heavy loads. As a result, the city’s buildings and infrastructure exert pressure on the soil, leading to sinking.

Coastal Erosion: Jakarta is located on the coast and faces challenges related to coastal erosion. Rising sea levels, coupled with land subsidence, contribute to the erosion of coastal areas, making Jakarta more vulnerable to flooding.

The sinking of Jakarta poses significant challenges, including increased flood risks, infrastructure damage, and the displacement of residents. To address this issue, the Indonesian government has been considering various measures, such as constructing sea walls, reducing groundwater extraction, and relocating government offices outside the city to Kilimantan (the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo.). However, solving the problem of land subsidence in Jakarta is a complex and long-term endeavor that requires comprehensive planning and sustainable solutions.

Jakarta is one of the most populous cities in the world. As of 2021, the estimated population of Jakarta is over 10 million people within the city’s administrative boundaries. However, when including the surrounding metropolitan area known as Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi), the population exceeds 30 million people, making it one of the most populous urban agglomerations globally.

Jakarta is divided into five administrative cities (kota administratif) and one administrative regency (kabupaten administratif). The administrative cities are Central Jakarta, West Jakarta, South Jakarta, East Jakarta, and North Jakarta, while the administrative regency is Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu).

It’s worth mentioning that Jakarta’s urban area extends beyond its administrative boundaries, encompassing neighboring cities and suburbs. The metropolitan area of Jakarta, Jabodetabek, is a vast region that includes several satellite cities and has experienced rapid urban growth in recent decades.

However, it is important to note that Indonesia also faces challenges such as income inequality, infrastructure gaps, bureaucratic hurdles, environmental concerns, and regional disparities. Addressing these challenges and implementing effective policies to promote inclusive and sustainable development will be crucial for unlocking the country’s full potential.

When it comes to Indonesian cuisine, it is known for its diverse use of noodles and rice as staple ingredients in many dishes. We were missing bread and one important piece of cutlery – knife, but we got used to it after several days. Some popular Indonesian dishes that feature noodles and rice:


Mie Goreng: Indonesian fried noodles made with egg noodles stir-fried with various ingredients like vegetables, meat, seafood, and spices. It is often seasoned with soy sauce and served with a side of fresh vegetables or pickles.

Bakmi Ayam: A Chinese-inspired dish, Bakmi Ayam is a bowl of egg noodles served with slices of roasted or braised chicken, bok choy, and a flavorful broth or sauce.

Soto Mie: A noodle soup dish with a clear broth flavored with herbs and spices. It typically includes egg noodles, shredded chicken or beef, bean sprouts, and a variety of toppings like fried shallots, lime, and sambal.

Kwetiau Goreng: Stir-fried flat rice noodles cooked with a combination of vegetables, meat, seafood, and a savory sauce. It is a popular street food dish in Indonesia.


Nasi Goreng: Indonesian fried rice made with cooked rice stir-fried with various ingredients such as shrimp, chicken, vegetables, and spices. It is typically seasoned with soy sauce and often served with a fried egg on top.

Nasi Padang: A famous cuisine from the Padang region of West Sumatra. It consists of steamed rice served with a variety of flavorful dishes such as rendang (slow-cooked beef), curries, fried chicken, and vegetable dishes.

Nasi Uduk: Fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and served with a variety of side dishes such as fried chicken, tempeh, tofu, and sambal.

Nasi Kuning: Yellow turmeric rice often served during special occasions and celebrations. It is accompanied by a variety of side dishes like fried chicken, boiled egg, shredded omelet, and sambal.

Nasi Campur: A mixed rice dish where a variety of side dishes, such as grilled meats, vegetables, and sambal, are served with rice. The combination of side dishes can vary based on regional preferences.