Country Profile: Indonesia

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of Indonesia (Republik Indonesia), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Indonesia's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status. However, one province—Aceh Province—has established Islamic law formally within its jurisdiction.

Country Background

Indonesia is located in Southeast Asia. It is an archipelago between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta. The official language is Bahasa Indonesian, which is a modified form of Malay. The country’s population in 2017 was approximately 260.6 million. Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 87% of the population Muslim. Indonesia is a member state of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Indonesia is referred to as a presidential republic. After gaining independence from the Netherlands, Indonesia ratified its first Constitution in 1945. Since then, the Constitution has been amended four times, dealing with issues such as limiting presidential power and establishing additional state bodies. In Indonesia, sovereignty rests with the citizens and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The Indonesian legal structure is a civil law system based on the Roman-Dutch model and influenced by customary law. In some cases, this customary law includes Islamic law. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in Indonesia on the national level. However, one provinceAcehhas established sharīʿa within its jurisdiction. There, in matters of personal status, sharīʿa takes precedence. However, the rest of the country is secular, and the Indonesian national government is also secular. 

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has official jurisdiction in Aceh Province. However, it does not have official jurisdiction in the rest of Indonesia, or at the national level.

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Indonesia has no official school of Islamic law, as Indonesia is a secular country. However, the majority of the Muslim population in the country is Sunnī (adhering to the Shāfiʿī school).

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English and Arabic translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].