Before we dive into some very interesting and funny facts on Indonesia (like the way they kiss), it’s worth paying some attention to the happiness level of the country. On the Happy Planet Index, Indonesia is number 16th. Among the top 20 happiest so to say. The stats show they have a good ecological footprint and they consider themselves happy. On the World Happiness Index, however, it’s the middleman with a ranking of #81. It even dropped two spots as last year Indonesia ranked #79.
Before exploring the definition of happiness according to the Indonesian, let’s have a look at some facts worth knowing to better understand them and the context they live in.
- Indonesia is big. Indonesia exists of more than 17.000 islands and is recorded as the fourth largest country in the world. There are 5 main big islands: Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Bali and Papua. It’s also the fourth most populous country in the world and the fastest growing population according to WHO. just behind China, India, and the U.S.
- It’s getting difficult. Bahasa Indonesia is Indonesia’s formal language, but the country recognizes more than 700 other languages as well – only in Flores already different languages in every region. They can’t even talk to each other if they don’t speak Bahasa.
- Religion blend. Even though not an Islamic governed country, Indonesia recorded as is the most populous Muslims country in the world. The Indonesian government recognizes only six religions—Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Confucianism. Every Indonesian citizen must belong to one of those religions, regardless of what they believe, and two individuals of different religions may not legally marry unless one of them converts. What we’ve experienced, however, is a country where all religions blend together very well. The people proudly explain that they tolerate each other. On Flores, the musk and church are next to each other.
- Community. There is a strong sense of community in Indonesia, wherever you go in the country. Around 60 percent of the population live in villages, where they rely on agriculture for sustenance. The village is an extension of the family in itself, where everyone knows each other. Houses tend to be small, so people spend a great deal of time outside, where it is also cooler. With not a lot of entertainment options, people sit around and do what Indonesians love the most – chatting. Maybe because people are happy to communicate openly, it is easier to solve problems.
- Happy they are. According to recent national research, Indonesia scores high on the happiness Index and they saw an increase of more than 2 points compared to 2014. The index has a scale of between 0 and 100, in which the higher the figure, the happier the people. The index this year measures three dimensions — life satisfaction, relationships and life-meaning (eudaimonia) –, while the previous surveys in 2012 and 2014 only measured life satisfaction. “The purpose of this index is to get detailed information about our people’s happiness because a country’s development should not be measured in economic terms only”.
Indonesians below 24 years were the happiest, and unmarried men seem to be happier than married. Also, the Urvan dwellers are happier compared to those in rural areas.
One of the researchers said that Indonesians in general score well in the happiness index. “Indonesians are happy and it’s not based on richness or poverty”. He pointed to the example of Yogyakarta. Despite having the highest number of poor people, the BPS says that the province score high in the happiness index. “That’s because their social relationships are good, they feel valued and they are proud of themselves for helping others.”
- HOT HOT HOT. Indonesia located in the region of Ring of Fire named because its location spread in East Pacific and West Indian Ocean and consisted with more than 400 volcanos which caused 4 earthquakes every day in the country. Also, the name ketchup is originally derived from the Indonesian word kecap, which is a sweet soy sauce.
- Kiss kiss. In Indonesia, kissing is called cium (“to sniff”). Most Indonesians kiss by sniffing each other’s cheeks, by way of standard greeting. In some places in Indonesia, people rub noses among family to show affection, but it can also become foreplay as well. We checked this and can confirm that sometimes people are inclined to greet in a manner different than ours. Regarding the foreplay, no confirmation about that….
Besides these facts on Indonesia, we’ve also found a few facts about the two destinations of our itinerary…
- The name Flores is misleading. The island of Flores in Indonesia means ‘Flowers’, although this is something of a misnomer as there are no tulips or roses to be seen here.
- Flores population. Around 85% of the Florinese people are Roman Catholic. The Muslim people, who make up a minority of the population, mostly settled in coastal areas where they built fishing communities. Up to the present, Christianity and Islam have gone hand in hand with notions and practices of traditional belief systems.
- Scary!! The Komodo dragon is only found in Indonesia. It is the largest lizard in the world, growing up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) in length. Even though they seem a little lazy during the day, we’ve heard some horror stories from the rangers who are protecting the island.
- Hinduism babies in Bali have a fly-high start in life. Indonesia’s small Hindu population remains mainly on the island of Bali. One of Balinese Hinduism’s superstitions that endures to this day is the not letting a baby’s feet touch the ground for the first six months of their life to prevent the devil from entering the child and, as a result, children are passed from adult to adult instead.
- All people on Bali have the same first name. In Bali, the majority of the children are named based on their birth order. An example, for guys it’s like this: Wayan (1st child), Made (2nd child), Nyoman (3rd child), and Ketut (4th child). So before your actual “name”, everyone has a first name to indicate the birth sequence.
- Temple. Everyone in Bali has their own (little) temple on their property to be able to offer. Besides that, they all regularly visit the other holy places too. They have beautifully decorated offerings that are placed around the temples, but also in front of the house or shop, every day.
- The name Ubud. The name ’Ubud’ is derived from an ancient Javanese word ’Ubad’ which literally translates as ’medicine’. From its very inception, this lovely village and the surrounding areas have been home to a wide variety of healers, healing traditions, spiritual guides, meditation teachers and healthful foods.
Whereas there are plenty of other facts on this huge country, it’s time for us to dive into the perspectives of the citizens.