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The 5 Administrative Divisions of Indonesia

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There are 38 provinces in Indonesia, in which there are 90+ cities and 400+ regencies. Within those cities and regencies, there are over 7,000 districts and even more subdistricts.

The 5 Administrative Divisions of Indonesia
Featured article photo: Labuan Bajo, Indonesia by William Kusno

1. Provinces, known as “Provinsi” in Indonesian

The concept of a province, or provinsi in Indonesia should sound pretty familiar as there are many countries around the world with provinces as administrative divisions that are one tier lower than a country as a whole.

There are 38 provinces in Indonesia, with most of them spread across 5 major islands (Sumatra, Java, Kalimatan/Borneo, Sulawesi, and Papua) as well as in smaller islands such as Sunda Islands and Maluku Islands.

The head of government at the provincial level is known as the governor, or gubernur in Indonesian.

Here is a map of Indonesia with its provinces starting from Aceh in the west all the way to South Papua in the east:

Illustration by Yug (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2. City, known as “Kota” in Indonesian

There are 93 cities + 1 provincial-level capital city spread across Indonesia’s 38 provinces. In Indonesian, “city” translates to kota. The head of government at the city level is known as the mayor, or walikota in Indonesian.

3. Regency, known as “Kabupaten” in Indonesian

Regency, or Kabupaten in Indonesian, is a pretty uncommon administrative division in countries around the world. It is one tier lower than the status of a city but one tier higher than the status of a district. Its head of government is known as a regent, or bupati in Indonesian.

Generally, a city (kota) is usually more populated and urbanized, whereas a regency (kabupaten) is less so.

Typically, a city and a regency do not co-exist. You can think of a regency as something like a suburb.

4. District, known as “Kecamatan” in Indonesian

The next lower tier of administrative division in Indonesia after a city or a regency is a district, or kecamatan in Indonesian. The head of a kecamatan is a camat, or essentially a “head of district”, typically appointed by the walikota (the mayor) or the bupati (head of the regency).

Both cities and regencies contain districts, which contain sub-districts.

5. Sub-district, known as “Kelurahan” in Indonesian

The smallest administrative division is the sub-district or kelurahan in Indonesian. A sub-district typically has a population of a few hundred to a few thousand people. The head of a kelurahan is a lurah, or a “head of sub-district” who is appointed by the camat (head of district).

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