There are 726 languages spoken across the Indonesian archipelago in 2009 (dropped from 742 languages in 2007), the largest multilingual population in the world only after Papua New Guinea. Indonesian Papua which adjacent with Papua New Guinea has the most languages in Indonesia.
The official language is Indonesian (locally known as Bahasa Indonesia), a variant ofMalay, which was used in the archipelago, — borrowing heavily from local languages of Indonesia such as Javanese, Sundanese, Minangkabau, etc. The Indonesian language is primarily used in commerce, administration, education and the media, but most Indonesians speak other languages, such as Javanese, as their first language. Most, if not all, books printed in Indonesia are written in the Indonesian language.
Since Indonesia only recognizes a single official language, other languages are not recognized either at national level nor regional level, thus making Javanese the most widely spoken language without official status, and Sundanese the second in the list (excluding Chinese dialects).
Languages by family
Several prominent languages spoken in Indonesia sorted by language family are:
- Austronesian languages – (Malayo-Polynesian branch). Most languages spoken in Indonesia belong to this family, who in return related to languages spoken inMadagascar, Philippines, New Zealand, Hawaii and various Polynesian countries.
- Javanese language, spoken Yogyakarta, Central Java and East Java. Also found throughout Indonesia and by migrants in Suriname. Most populous Austronesian language by number of first language speaker.
- Lampung language, two distinct but closely related languages spoken in Lampung, South Sumatra and Banten
- Rejang language, spoken in Bengkulu province.
- Malayo-Sumbawan languages:
- Malay/Indonesian languages, spoken throughout Indonesia. Also used as national language.
- Aceh language, spoken in Aceh, especially coastal part of Sumatra island.
- Minangkabau language, spoken in West Sumatra.
- Banjar language, spoken in South, East, and Central Kalimantan.
- Sundanese language, spoken in West Java, Banten and Jakarta.
- Balinese language, spoken in Bali.
- Madurese language, spoken in Madura, Bawean and surrounding islands off the coast of Java.
- Sasak language, spoken in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
- Barito languages:
- Northwest Sumatran languages:
- South Sulawesi languages:
- Philippine languages:
- Enggano language of Sumatra is unclassified
- West Papuan languages, indigenous languages family found only in eastern Indonesia (northern Maluku and western Papua). Not closely related with other language families. Distinct from surrounding Austronesian languages.
- Trans–New Guinea languages, indigenous languages family found in eastern Indonesia (Papua, Flores, Timor islands) and New Guinea. Consisting hundreds of languages, including languages of the Asmat and Dani people.
- Mairasi languages (4)
- East Cenderawasih (Geelvink Bay) languages (10)
- Lakes Plain languages (19; upper Mamberamo River)
- Tor–Kwerba languages (17)
- Nimboran languages (5)
- Skou languages (Skou)
- Border languages (15)
- Senagi languages (2)
- Pauwasi languages
There are many additional small families and isolates among the Papuan languages.
Like most writing systems in human history, Indonesia's are not rendered in native-invented systems, but devised by speakers of Sanskrit, Arabic, and Latin. Malay, for example, has a long history as a written language and has been rendered in Indic, Arabic, and Latin scripts. Javanese has been written in the Nagari and Pallava scripts of India, as well as their derivative (known as Kawi and Javanese), in an Arabic alphabet called pegon that incorporates Javanese sounds, and in the Latin script.
Chinese characters have never been used to write Indonesian languages, although Indonesian place-names, personal names, and names of trade goods appear in reports and histories written for China's imperial courts.