Indonesia’s 250 million strong population live across 17,508 islands. The diverse country, in the world’s largest archipelago, is home to hundreds of distinct ethnic groups, and hundreds of local dialects. Despite being hit hard by an economic and political crisis in 1998, Indonesia has achieved most of the development targets set in the Millennium Development Goals, and is now well underway to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals into the national development planning.


Indonesia declared independence in 1945. UNDP has been operating in Indonesia since 1954 through the UN Technical Assistance Board, and a standard agreement on operational assistance between the Government of Indonesia and UNDP was signed in 1969. 

Indonesia has made significant progress in sustainable development. From 1970 to 2010, Indonesia was one of the top ten biggest upward movers in UNDP’s Human Development Index. Between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of Indonesians living below the national poverty line fell from 19 per cent to less than 11 per cent.


Indonesian Coast Indonesian Coast

The country has experienced significant economic growth in the last two decades, and its middle class continues to expand. Indonesia is now categorized as lower middle-income, and between 2009 and 2013 annual GDP growth was 5.8 percent. With a rising middle class expected to reach 135 million people by 2020, the country is challenged with widening inequality.

Indonesia has more than 28 million people still living below the national poverty line and many more do not have access to basic social services. In Papua and West Papua, poverty rates are twice the national average. Between 2002 and 2013, income inequality increased by 24 percent. Large sections of the population lack access to basic services, with 68 percent – mainly those in urban centers – having access to safe drinking water, and 61 per cent to sanitation. Women continue to have lower access to education, employment and services.   

Long term development in Indonesia is jeopardized by environmental degradation and climate change. Much of the country’s economic growth has been driven by the extraction of natural resources at the expense of the environment. Indonesia is also one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases and the deforestation rate is one of the highest in the world.

The challenge therefore is for Indonesia to generate the growth it needs to cut poverty and inequality and at the same time protect its natural resources and its long term development prospects.


Indonesia continues to be a rising power both in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the G20, and has Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, with a Gross Domestic Product of $861,9 billion in 2015.

The world’s fourth most populous nation is now its 16th biggest economy and has been projected to be among the world’s top ten largest by 2025.

Indonesia’s 2014 Human Development Index value of 0.684 represents a remarkable progress from 0.474 in 1980, reflecting considerable improvements in life expectancy, access to education, and incomes.