Home » Destinations » Indonesia


About Indonesia:

Indonesia is composed of five main islands (Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Irian Jaya), two major archipelagos (Nusa Tenggara and the Maluku Islands), and sixty smaller archipelagos, making an amazing total of about 18,000 islands.  Around 6,000 of those islands are inhabited. It is the largest archipelago in the world to form a single country.

Brief history of the Catholic Church in Indonesia:

Catholicism came to Indonesia in the 14th century, as Portuguese explorers were searching for the Spice Islands.  Later, in the 16 th century Catholic missionaries arrived, perhaps most notably Saint Francis Xavier, who served in Ambon, Ternate and Morotai Islands between 1546 and 1547.  The Portuguese were expelled from Ternate in 1574, and many Catholics in the northern Moluccas were killed. The Dutch East India Company conquered Ambon in 1605 and Catholics were forced to embrace Protestantism.

In 1808, the Dutch authorities allowed European Catholics the freedom of worship, which was later extended to local Catholics. In 1835, the Dutch brought the Church under its direct rule, paying salaries to priests and controlling the appointments. Priests’ opposition to this policy resulted in expulsion of all Catholic priests.

In the 19th century Jesuit missionaries arrived, mainly in the island of Flores. They enjoyed freedom to work here because of an 1859 treaty with Portugal. The first ethnic Javanese priest was ordained only in the 20th century in 1926.

There are six official religions in the country: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

Catholics are found all over the archipelago, but mainly concentrated in Flores, Timor, Central Java, and Papua.

According to the 2018 census, Indonesia has a total population of 267 million people.  The 8 million Catholics form 3.01 percent of the population. The majority religion is Islam, with 87.2% of the population.

Catholic places of Interest in Indonesia:

The Catholic Church in Indonesia is composed of 10 archdioceses and 37 dioceses which form 10 ecclesiastical provinces. Indonesia also has a military ordinariate.  With such a far-flung territory, it is hard to wrap your head around the scope of Catholic places of interest in Indonesia.

Jakarta:  Capital of Indonesia