Bahasa Indonesia (which is also referred to simply as Indonesian) is heavily influenced by Malay, which was the most widely used language on the Indonesian archipelago for many centuries. It was made the official language of Indonesia with the promulgation of the 1945 declaration of independence. Still, Bahasa Indonesia is basically the same language as Bahasa Malaysia, Malaysia's official tongue. Both have borrowed significantly from Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic and Sanskrit.
Though Indonesian is spoken as a first language by a scant 7 percent of the population (and in only 45 percent of Malaysia), almost 200 million people speak it as a second language with widely varying levels of proficiency. Despite what these figures may suggest, it is an essential means of communication in the region, which boasts over 300 distinct languages. It is used in all mass media, at all levels of education, and is the lingua franca for business and commerce.
Written in Latin script very similar to Dutch, it currently uses the Soewandi Spelling which is a simplified system of spelling named after former Minister of Education Soewandi who introduced it in 1947. One of its most interesting aspects for English speakers is that it doesn't typically make any distinction for gender - masculine, feminine, or neutral. For example, there is no distinction made for boyfriend or girlfriend, they are both simply referred to as pacar.