Friday, August 9, 2013

The Best Multilingual Cities In Indonesia And The Philippines

As we've already had a look at Europe, Canada, the US, Mexico and the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and the Middle East and Africa, we thought that given the huge number of languages spoken in Southeast Asia that Indonesia and the Philippines deserved their own post.


Batam - The Indonesian city of Batam is home to the Indonesian, Batak, Minang, Javanese, Hokkien, and Teochew languages. It's also around the same size as Singapore. Having grown in what was once a forested area, Batam became an important harbour, industrial zone, and a bit of a tax haven. Unfortunately for Batam, it has recently been exposed as a facilitator of the ivory trade.

A fountain in the city of Balikpapan, Indonesia.
Balikpapan - Located on the east coast of the island of Borneo, the seaport city of Balikpapan has five major languages in the form of Indonesian, Banjar, Javanese, Lawangan, and Bugis. The city is home to a booming oil trade and as a result was an important target for both sets of belligerents during the Second World War.

Makassar - Indonesian, Bugis, and Makassarese are the languages spoken in the provincial capital of South Sulawesi in Indonesia. As a former precolonial fort, the city is now principally a port and major centre of the fishing industry in the region.

Medan - The capital of North Sumatra, Medan has a significant number of languages spoken in its streets every day. These include Indonesian, Batak, Javanese, Medan Hokkien, Tamil, and Minang, to name a few. The city is also the largest city in Indonesia outside of Java.

Surabaya - Indonesian, Javanese, and Madurese are spoken in Indonesia's second largest city and the capital of East Java. It's known as the "city of heroes" owing to its participation in the Indonesian National Revolution.

Currently the city, like many in Indonesia, operates principally as a port and is famed for being the first city in the world to breed orangutans in captivity.

Now that we've finished our look at multilingual cities in Indonesia, it's time to head over to Philippines.

The Philippines

A Spanish style street in Vigan, Philippines.
Vigan - In the Philippine city of Vigan, different languages can be heard everywhere, from Ilokano to English, Tagalog, and Spanish. Due to its Hispanic architecture and being one of several notably Spanish-looking cities in the Philippines, it holds a World Heritage Site status.

Baguio City - English, Tagalog, Ilokano, and Ifugao are the main languages spoken in Baguio City. Despite not being one of the largest cities in the world as it is only home to around 300,000 inhabitants, Baguio City is a centre of commerce, business, and education.

Are there any great multilingual cities that you feel we've left off our list? Let us know about them in the comments below.

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