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Bahasa Indonesia is the national and official language in the entire country. It is the language of official communication, taught in schools and spoken on television. Most Indonesians today speak at least two languages or more, Bahasa Indonesia and their local language, of which Indonesia counts more than 300 regional languages.

Bahasa Indonesia is based on the high Malay language as spoken and written in the Riau Islands, as in the early 19th. century, Malay was the lingua franca throughout the then Dutch East Indies,  the language spoken in trade transactions. The more democratic Malay language was preferred by nationalistic youth above the Javanese language, despite the fact that Javanese is more sophisticated and at the time spoken by the majority population, Yet, Javanese is feudal as it has different levels of language depending on one’s status and the status of the person spoken to. The Youth Pledge of 1928, therefore, vowed to build one Indonesian country, one nation, speaking one language: bahasa Indonesia.

Since then, Bahasa Indonesia has developed rapidly incorporating Javanese terms, Jakarta dialect, as well as many English and Arabic words into its vocabulary.

Bahasa Indonesia use Latin alphabets but some parts of Indonesia have their own scripts, too. Bahasa Indonesia is rather easy to learn and once you get the hang of it, you’ll find out that it’s actually quite simple. You can try some simple Indonesian phrases, to get you  started.

Fact: there are 583 languages and dialects spoken by the different ethnic groups in Indonesia. Imagine a school of 583 students who each speaks different languages or dialects. Confusion will be an understatement. Therefore it’s very fortunate that every single ethnic group embraces Bahasa Indonesia as the national language. If a language barrier can hinder us from understanding each other, we definitely don’t need 583 of them!