How many islands does Indonesia have?
There are over 17,000 Indonesian islands. Of these, only around 6,000 have people living on them. These vary from vastly populated islands such as Java, with a population of over 150 million (similar to the population of Russia), to islands such as Adonara, with a little over 100,000.
Some of the islands included within Indonesia are split between Indonesian territory and the territory of other countries. Indonesia shares the island of Timor with East Timor, the island of New Guinea with Papua New Guinea, and the island of Borneo with Brunei and two states of Malaysia.
What are Indonesia’s five largest islands?
Below you will find the five largest Indonesian islands listed. These refer to the size of the island rather than Indonesia’s territory on those islands (for example, only half of New Guinea is part of Indonesia).
New Guinea: New Guinea is the largest island in Indonesia, although Indonesia exists only on the western half of the island. This is the world’s second-largest island after Greenland. The two Indonesian states of Guinea enjoy a special autonomous status meaning they have more control over their affairs.
Borneo: The second largest island in Indonesia is also shared with other countries. Borneo is famous for its orangutans, which can be seen in the wild in Indonesian Borneo.
Sumatra: This is the largest island that Indonesia solely occupies. Sumatra is famous for its unique wildlife, home to the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, and orangutan. Unfortunately, all these species are critically endangered due to deforestation.
Sulawesi: This island’s unique layout, featuring four peninsulas and a mountainous interior, means that the island’s inhabitants use the sea more than roads to stay connected to the different parts of the island. Sulawesi is also home to the world’s oldest known cave art.
Java: Java is the fifth largest island in Indonesia but accounts for over half of the entire country’s population. The capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta, is in Java and is home to over ten million people, making it South East Asia’s largest city. Due to its population and being home to the capital, Java is a culturally and politically dominant island in Indonesia.
Other famous Indonesian islands:
Bali: Bali is possibly Indonesia’s most famous island owing to its incredible popularity with tourists. Over 80% of the island’s economy comprises the tourism industry.
Whereas across Indonesia, most people are Muslim, Bali is an outlier because over 80% of its population follows Balinese Hinduism. This gives Bali a distinct culture, seen in its art and architecture.
Lombok: Lombok is another island popular with tourists. Lombok is famous for its beautiful waterfalls. Its also renowned for its beautiful beaches and popular surfing spots.
Komodo: Komodo is particularly famous for one of its fauna: the Komodo dragon. The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in the world and can reach 10 feet in length. They are fierce predators and have been known even to eat water buffalo. Komodos are protected in the Komodo National Park.
Komodo is also popular for its mangroves and coral reefs which make for excellent diving spots.