How big is Indonesia actually?

For a long time, the name “Indonesia” was almost synonymous with “Bali”, but in reality, Indonesia is bigger, way bigger than just that one tiny island among 17,500.

So how big is Indonesia?

To understand how big Indonesia is, know that it covers a good 1,9 million square kilometers. Consequently, it’s the world’s 14th largest country, and the 7th in terms of combined sea and land areas.

By the way: number 6 is Austraila, followed by Brazil, China, the USA, Canada and the largest country in the world is of course Mother Russia.

But, if you compare Indonesia’s size to the Netherlands with its paltry 41,543 square kilometers, and you’re comparing the size of a blue whale with that of a human baby. So it’s safe to say that Indonesia is yuuuge.

Indonesia is actually very large.

The distances

The total width of Indonesia can be expressed as the distance between Banda Aceh (Sumatra) in the west, and Jayapura (Papua) in the east. In a straight line, this covers a distance of more than 5000 kilometers, and if you were to take a plane it would take you almost 7 hours to fly that distance. So in other words, that’s one hour short of the same distance between Amsterdam and New York.

Similarly, if we look at the island of Sulawesi: it will take you 1 hour and 45 minutes to fly from Manado to the city of Makassar in South Sulawesi.

Map of Sulawesi with Borneo to the west and Maluku to the east

Travel times

So if we break down some of the flying times between the more popular destinations to and within Indonesia, the distances become quite apparent.

FromToFlight time (hours)
Sorong (Papua)Manado1,5

A colorful and diverse Indonesia

With so much area to cover, Indonesia is simply not just “a country”. Rather, it is a vivid mix of cultures, languages religions and customs. That’s exactly the reason why Indonesia’s motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, meaning “Unity in Diversity”…

So what’s all this about?

What I’m trying to illustrate, is that Indonesia is an enormous area, but more importantly, it’s essential to understand that, whenever Indonesia gets media attention, it only happens in small parts of the country.

For example, with Indonesia located along the Ring of Fire, there are areas where earthquakes can occur. In 2018, for instance, where Palu was devastated by a quake and a tsunami. Likewise, political unrest and social turmoil haven’t put the country in a very positive light either recently.

But these factors are tiny little blips against a vast backdrop of tropical bliss. Lucky for us, North Sulawesi is very far removed from all of that.

In conclusion, if you have any doubts about visiting the area because of these factors, let us know. We are curious about your concerns. After all, it’s our job to offer you a fantastic diving holiday!

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Picture of Arjen Bokhoven

Arjen Bokhoven

I'm a PADI Advanced Open Water diver, I do guest relations and resort management at Thalassa Dive Resorts Indonesia. Whether I'm diving the walls of Bunaken to spot schools of fish & turtles, or explore the sandy flats of Lembeh with its fascinating underwater creatures- I love all of it.

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