Indonesian Villages – A Land of Diversity

Villagers Waving

One of the best things about traveling the world is the chance to meet the local people. Indonesia is a land of countless small villages spread throughout the country. With an archipelago consisting of over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is home to hundreds of different cultures. The sheer number of islands in Indonesia means that many different societies have been present in the country for thousands of years. As each island, and regions within larger islands, evolved in isolation they developed their own language and culture. It’s only within the last 100 years or so that what is now modern Indonesia began to take shape. However, even though Indonesia officially became a country after World War Two, this didn’t mean everyone did away with their old culture. In fact, one of the key tenets of Indonesia is the celebration of diversity.

Hundreds of Languages

Of course, with so many different civilizations spread throughout such a large area, there are an equal amount of languages. In fact, Indonesia is home to more than 700 language spoken in the country. Not 700 dialects but 700 actual distinct different languages. This is more than any country in the world other than Papua New Guinea. This means that Indonesia is home to 10% of the world’s languages. There is a national language, Bahasa Indonesian, that is taught to everyone at school. This allows everyone to communicate effectively and is used on TV, in the government, newspapers, and every other national initiative.

Visiting Villages

Village in Flores

Of course the most interesting thing about such a diverse country is the chance to experience these different cultures. On the Samata we visit different areas of the country throughout the year and often enjoy visiting villages while we are there. The chance to be welcomed into a community that doesn’t often see outside visitors is a true eye opener. The local people are so friendly and proud to introduce you to their home. In fact, it can almost be a “rock star” feeling at some villages because the whole village will turn up to escort us around!

The differences in the people and their cultural background is easy to see throughout the country. Visiting a fishing village in Raja Ampat offers a much different experience than a similar village in Sumbawa. Inland villages such as the ones in Flores offer a completely different experience altogether. Flores boasts many villages that have been preserved in the same state for hundreds of years. Tourists can freely walk around these incredible places where people still live their daily lives in a manner similar to their ancestors.

Village traditional ceremony

When we are lucky, we can also experience festivals or dances while visiting. Inhabitants are proud of their culture and traditions and still practice ancient forms of dance and musicianship. Our common cruising grounds in the Flores/Komodo area as well as Raja Ampat have especially strong cultural histories. For guests who are interested in culture, visiting a local village is a great way to experience the real Indonesia.

A Proud Crew

Our crew originate from many areas around the country and are always happy to discuss a little of their local traditions. Many of them originate from Sulawesi, Bali, Java, and other islands throughout Indonesia. They are all proud of their heritage and are always happy to teach a few words of their native tongue to guests. You will be surprised just how different even simple things like numbers are completely different throughout the region.

Of course in the current climate we have to be careful about visiting land during a cruise. We will of course come up with new policies in the coming months to follow any new local government regulations. We love showing our guests the true heart of Indonesia and we are positive that we will be able to do so again soon.

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