Houses in an Indonesian kampung (village) © iStock

Houses in an Indonesian kampung (village) © iStock

Kampungs (villages)

While many people live in big cities, more than half of Indonesian live in villages, known as kampungs,  and work on the land as farmers. 

Traditional Indonesian kampung houses are built from bamboo and woods from the forests. The roofs are thatched with palm leaves or reeds. but, there is a mixture of housing styles in most kampungs. Most kampungs have electricity and television.

Families work together to plant and harvest their crops and raise their animals. They grow rice, fruit such as bananas, and vegetables such as corn, potatoes and cassava. They keep ducks, chickens, pigs and goats.

People in the kampung share tools and equipment. Any extra food is sold at the local market where people can buy clothes, utensils and cooking oil. If the kampung is near the sea the people can fish.

Most kampungs have a school and children attend as well as helping with farm work. Older children must travel to a regional secondary school. 

In this fishing village the houses are built over the water on stilts. iStock

In this fishing village the houses are built over the water on stilts. iStock

City living

In the big cities and towns of Indonesia, such as the capital city Jakarta, there are modern buildings, shopping centres, offices and government buildings. Many people live and work in the cities and towns. Many of them live in modern flats and apartments. Some live in western-style houses.

With such a large population, (the fourth largest in the world) there is a housing shortage in many cities in Indonesia. The government is trying to build thousands of new houses and apartments for the people.

Many people live in suburbs around the cities iStock

Many people live in suburbs around the cities iStock

Poorer people in the cities live in kampungs, or small village settlements around the major cities. iStock

Poorer people in the cities live in kampungs, or small village settlements around the major cities. iStock

Traditional houses

There are some distinctive styles of traditional houses in various parts of Indonesia, built by some of the ethnic groups of some islands. The houses are built of natural materials from the forests (bamboo, timber, grasses, palm leaves)

Toraja houses in South Sulawesi

Toraja houses in South Sulawesi

The Toraja people of South Sulawesi build beautiful carved houses with long bamboo roofs that rise to a point at each end. These houses are built inland facing the mountains, which the Toraja people believe is where the gods live. Above the doorways, horns of water buffalo decorate the houses as symbols of strength and power.

Batak houses have thatched roofs rising in a sharp point at each end, facing north and south.

Batak houses have thatched roofs rising in a sharp point at each end, facing north and south.

The Dayak people of Kalimantan and the Batak people of Sumatra build houses on stilts about 2-3 metres above the ground. Dayak houses often have carvings on the walls. Several families share the house, and their goats, pigs or cows are kept under the house. The height of the house off the ground is protection against floods and wild animals.