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Indonesia, The People of Indonesia

Indonesia’s estimated population in 2002 was 232,073,071, giving it an average population density of 122 persons per sq km (316 per sq mi). In 2002 the population was growing by 1.6 percent a year. This was a drop from the annual rate of 1.8 percent during the 1980s and relatively low by the standards of countries with similar income levels. The slow growth rate is partly attributable to economic growth that encourages smaller families and partly a product of the government’s active and successful family planning program.

With an estimated population of 114,733,500 in 1995, Java contains well over half of Indonesia’s people. The next most populous islands are Sumatra, with an estimated 40,830,400 people; Sulawesi, with 13,732,500; and Kalimantan, with 10,470,800. The remaining islands have much smaller populations, including 2,895,600 on Bali.

Early in the 20th century the Dutch began a program to shift people from heavily populated Java to the more sparsely settled parts of Sumatra. The Indonesian government began its own transmigration program in 1969, moving families first from Java to Sumatra and later from Java and other islands to Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua. At its peak, from 1979 to 1984, 535,474 families were moved. Since then, however, both the program’s cost and the shortage of sites for resettlement have caused the number of migrants to drop considerably. The transmigration program was suspended in 2000.

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