Indonesia is well-known as the biggest Muslim country in the world, comprising of around 240 million citizens, 86 percent of them being Muslims. This island nation exists of more than 17,000 islands, spreading over 5,000 kilometers, which means great challenges in terms of infrastructure and development. More than 360 different ethnicities and more than 700 dialects add to an already complex situation.
Hence, in 1945, the founding father of the country, President Sukarno, proclaimed an all-encompassing and binding state ideology named ‘Pancasila’. Its five principles are belief in the one and only God, a just and civilized humanity, the unity of the country, democracy guided by inner wisdom and social justice. The following years, Indonesia became known as a model for democracy in a Muslim country and was frequently highlighted as a model of tolerance in an ethnically and religious diverse country. Pancasila still has a prominent place in the country’s constitution.
About 10 percent of the population is Christian, according to the latest government’s census in 2000. The real number nowadays is around 16 percent, about a third of whom is Catholic.
In search of finding the New World and exotic spices, Portugal came to Indonesia in 1511, firstly in Maluku, which is in the east. The Portuguese brought with them Catholicism- the first seeds of Christianity in Indonesia. It is no surprise that Christianity still stands as a major religion in eastern Indonesia, whereas Islam has its stronghold in the western and central parts. Dutch missionaries came to Indonesia in around the 17th century.
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