What Languages Are Spoken In Indonesia?

Jakarta, the largest city in Indonesia as well as its capital.
Jakarta, the largest city in Indonesia as well as its capital.

There are an estimated 700 languages used in Indonesia, most of which are Austronesian languages. The de jure official language in Indonesia is the Indonesian language as indicated in the Indonesian Constitution. The language is the most widely used language in the country and is used in all formal communication particularly in media, administration, and commerce. However, there are the other main languages used in the country such as Javanese and Sundanese which have millions of native speakers.

The Official Language Of Indonesia

The Indonesian language is one of the major languages spoken in Indonesia. The Indonesian language is also formally recognized as the official language of the country as is provided for by Article 35 of the Constitution of Indonesia. The language is categorized by linguists as a standardized register of Riau Malay and is among the languages of the Austronesian language family. Indonesian is one of the most popular languages in the world with about 43 million people in Indonesia being identified as native Indonesian language speakers while another 156 million use the language as a second language. Indonesian language hasa rich history in the country and was used as the lingua franca in Indonesia for hundreds of years. The language is popularly used in print and electronic media in the country and is also incorporated into the education curriculum of the country. As the official language, Indonesian is the language used in all formal communication as well as in the drafting of legal documents. The language was adopted as the official language in Indonesia in 1945 after the country gained independence and promulgated its constitution. The majority of native Indonesian speakers reside in the urban regions of the country.

Regional Languages Of Indonesia


Javanese is a major language in Indonesia which is predominantly used in the island of Java among the Javanese people. The language is also one of the most widely used in the country with 98 million Indonesian people being identified as native Javanese speakers. All Indonesia presidents since the country gained independence in 1945 have been all native Javanese speakers. Javanese is also recognized as the official language in East Java as well as in Central Java. Javanese is a Sunda-Sulawesi language and is categorized under the Austronesian language family. The language is made up of three distinct dialects all of which are mutually intelligible and these include; Central Javanese, Western Javanese, and Eastern Javanese. Traditionally, the language was written in Javanese script, but in recent years the languages use Latin script in its written format.


Sundanese is another major language spoken in Indonesia. Sundanese (translated to mean “language of Sunda”) is predominantly used in West Java and Banten where the language is recognized as an official regional language. There are an estimated 42 million native Sundanese speakers in Indonesia which are about 15% of the total population of Indonesia. The Sundanese language is made up of six main dialects all of which are geographically defined and include; the Southeast dialect, the Northeast dialect, the Mid-east dialect, the Priangan dialect, the Northern dialect and the Western dialect.

Other Major Languages Spoken In Indonesia

Minangkabau and Musi

Other languages used in Indonesia include Musi language which is the Malay language predominantly used in the Palembang region in South Sumatra and has an estimated 3.1 million native speakers. Another major language used in the country is the Minangkabau language. Minangkabau is used among the members of the Minangkabau ethnic group who are estimated to be about 5.5 million in the country.


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