Here are some of the countries that are popularly populated by Indonesian diaspora.


Illustration. (Photo source: Pixabay/stokpic)

Jakarta, –  It is estimated that more than 10 million people have migrated from Indonesia to various overseas destinations to seek for opportunities. The people who emigrated from Indonesia in finding better opportunities abroad formed a global community of ‘Indonesian Diaspora’.

A significant number of talented and highly skilled Indonesians opted to move abroad to seek a better life or getting high-quality education. While many Indonesians ventured aboard to study, a significant portion of them went overseas to work as nurses, caregivers, plantation workers, domestic helpers, professional workers, and many other career destinations.

Thanks to globalization and demographic transition, skilled workers are more mobile.  Here are some of the countries that are popularly populated by Indonesian diaspora, who had previously left their homeland to study, work or have family in other countries.


A housing block in Singapore. (Photo source: Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures)


The city-state that is located just off the eastern coast of Sumatra is home to approximately 200,000 Indonesian passport holders. While a significant majority of Indonesians in Singapore are domestic helpers, many Indonesians came to Singapore to study or pursue a professional career in Singapore.


There are more than 30,000 Indonesians living in Qatar and a vast number of them are working as domestic helpers, nurses, and labor workers. This is in addition to those who came to Qatar to study. Indonesian workers are also known to be the largest in term of their population in the country, followed by the Philippines.


Kuala Lumpur, the largest city in Malaysia. (Photo source: Pixabay/strecosa)


Around 2.5 million people of Indonesian heritage live in Malaysia. Historical record and geographical condition are some of the for the large Indonesians population residing in Malaysia, either to work or study. Many Indonesian workers in Malaysia are hired as domestic helpers and plantation workers.

United States

The majority of Indonesians living in the United States are professional workers and students. Many Indonesians work for big companies such as Yahoo, Google, IBM, Facebook, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, and KLA Tencor. Sehat Sutardja, for instance, is a prominent Indonesian living in the U.S who is known as the co-founder and CEO of Marvell Technology Group.

On education, Voice of America reported in 2010 that there was an increase of Indonesian students who study in the US. Many Indonesian students target elite campuses that belong to Harvard University University of Boston, and Columbia University.

Saudi Arabia

Similar to Qatar, the majority of Indonesian natives residing in Saudi Arabia are working as domestic helpers and other labor workers. Sadly, many of them are reportedly treated like slaves instead of regular workers. There are several reports stated that Indonesian workers were abused or raped by their employees.

Some Indonesians also received harsh punishment from the country’s government for their misdeed. One of the most famous cases was Suyati Binti Sapubi who was beheaded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for allegedly killing her employer.


The Hague in Netherlands (Photo source: Pixabay/ei6)


Netherlands colonized Indonesia for more than 300 years, hence it is no wonder if Indonesia’s flair is quite apparent in the country, including its diaspora community.

In the beginning of 20th century, students from Indonesia had left their homeland to study in the Netherlands. They mostly lived in Leiden city and ran some Indonesian organizations. In total, there are more than 12,000 Indonesians who are scattered around the Dutch land.

There are also many Dutch people of Indonesian descent. Among the famous ones include Mia Audina (former badminton player), Roy Makaay (Netherlands’ football manager), Daniel Sahuleka (Indonesian-Dutch artist), Denny Landzaat (former footballer), and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (retired football player and the current manager of Feyenoord).


Due to the colonization by the Dutch, Indonesians, mostly from Java Island, were sent as slaves to make coffee plantation in Suriname in the 19th century. Since then, at least 15% of Suriname’s population is associated with Javanese descents.

The most renowned Surinamese of Javanese descent is Paul Slamet Somohardjo, a politician who is the chairman of Pertjajah Luhur party and known as the oldest parliamentarian in the Surinamese National Assembly.


A data in 2013 stated that there were 20,000 Indonesians living in Japan. However, the number is reportedly decreasing for the past years as Indonesians are finding it hard to find jobs and handle the high cost of living in the country. Nonetheless, most Indonesians living are either workers or students. There are also some Indonesian communities based in Oarai, Ibaraki, and most of the members are working in seafood processing factories.


Before 1907, Bugis people from South Sulawesi had come to Australia prior to the British. They were sailing around the Australian North coast using the phinisi ship and living in the continent for quite some times before moving back to Makassar.

Putting aside the historical background, there are more than 70,000 Indonesians living in Australia as students, labor or professional workers. Indonesia is also seen as one of important countries to attain skilled migrant workers for Australia.

The existence of Indonesian diaspora communities provides advantageous sides for both the countries they are living in and Indonesia as their homeland. For Indonesia, they could contribute to shape up the nation’s social and economic aspects as well as global connectivity. Let’s hope that Indonesian Diaspora will always play a significant role to change the future of the country for the better. By Nurdini, 21 November 2016

Reposted from Global Indonesian Voices

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.