Living on more than 13,400 islands, the Indonesian nation today counts some 200 million population comprising over 200 ethnic groups with their own languages and dialects that range in population from the Javanese (about 70 million) and Sundanese (about 30 million) on Java to peoples numbering in the thousands on remote islands. After gaining Independence in 1945, inter-marriages among people of different ethnic groups have welded the population into a more cohesive Indonesian nation.
The majority of the population is Muslim, while in Bali the Hindu religion is predominant. Whereas in areas like the Minahasa in North Sulawesi, the Toraja highlands in South Sulawesi, in the East Nusatenggara islands and in large parts of Papua, in the Batak highlands as well as on Nias island in North Sumatra, the majority are either Catholics or Protestants. On the whole, Indonesian people are religious in nature.
And, true to the Pancasila, the five principles of nationhood, – namely Belief in the One and Only God, a Just and Civilized Humanity, the Unity of Indonesia, Democracy through unanimous deliberations, and Social Justice for all – Indonesian societies are open and remain tolerant towards each others religions, customs, and traditions, while faithfully adhering to their own. The Indonesian coat of arms moreover bears the motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, “Unity in Diversity”.
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