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The Ethnic Groups of Indonesia

Please select one of the regions below to go to the list of the people groups based on that region.



Who are the Trans Migrant Javanese?

By far, the largest people group in the country of Indonesia is the Javanese. The most densely populated island in the Indonesian archipelago of over 13,000 islands is Java. For this and other economic reasons, the government sanctioned a massive relocation program during the 1970s -1980s in which millions of Javanese farmers moved to rural locations in Sumatra. There are 15 million of them which makes the Transmigrant Javanese the largest people group on Sumatra - over twice the size of the … [Read more...]

Who are the Pakpak Boang?

The 18,000 Pakpak Boang live in the Singkil area of the southern part of Aceh Province in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The Pakpak Boang are part of the Pakpak or Dairi Batak tribe, but are often mistaken for Singkil people. Boang is comes from the Indonesian word “buang” which means to discard or throw away. They chose this name for themselves because they felt discarded by the rest of the tribe when then decided to leave Christianity to follow Islam. What Are Their Lives Like? Most Pakpak … [Read more...]

Who are the Deli?

The two million Deli and Asahan Malay live along the eastern coast of North Sumatra. Deli villages are clustered along the coast, and often include not only Deli Malay people, but also people of other ethnic backgrounds such as Javanese and Minangkabau. They live on the banks of rivers and near the ocean in marshy areas that often flood. What Are Their Lives Like? The Deli typically work as fishermen or traditional farmers. The fishermen work in the Straits of Malacca between Sumatra and … [Read more...]

Who are the Bonai Malay?

There are 14,000 Bonai Malay. They live in the western part of the Riau province, which is in central Sumatra. What Are Their Lives Like? Until recently they were considered “foreign” by their own government because of their refusal to enter into the modern world. But in this generation, all of that has changed. The Bonai Malay have embraced a more modern way of life. They are sending their children to school. They are welcoming electricity and other tools into their villages for the first … [Read more...]

Who are the Campalagian?

Most of the Campalagian live in the Campalagian district, one hour east of the city of Majene, in the province of South Sulawesi. A large majority of the people live in fertile lowland areas that are conducive to growing various kinds of crops. This people group is also known as the Tulumpanueae or the Tasing. The language and culture of the Campalagian are heavily influenced by their more populous and powerful neighbors, the Toraja and the Bugis. The Campalagian identify more closely with the … [Read more...]

Who are the Mamboru?

The Mamboru people live on the northwestern coast of Sumba, just south of Flores. Sumba is in East Nusa Tenggara Province. Much of interior Sumba consists of extensive plateaus, with scattered, irregular hills, particularly in the western part. The climate is hot and dry. The Mamboru people are closely related to the Wanukaka, Lamboya and Anakalangu, but their languages are completely different. What Are Their Lives Like? Their livelihood is primarily a combination of small-scale farming and … [Read more...]

Who are the Lisela?

Most Lisela live on the northern and eastern coasts of Buru Island. Some live on Ambon. Both Buru and Ambon islands are part of the Maluku Islands. The Lisela are sometimes called Buru, Buru Utara, Li Enyorot, Liet Enjorot, or Wayapu. They speak the Lisela and Tagalisa dialects. What Are Their Lives Like? The Lisela live in a region marked by tropical rain forests and savannahs. Most of their income comes from cultivating cloves, nutmeg, copra, coffee, cashew nuts, and cocoa beans. Some … [Read more...]

Who are the Rawas?

The Rawas are a people group of South Sumatra. Those who live near the Rupit River are also known as the Rupit, while those who live near the Rawas River are most commonly known as the Rawas. They live in the Musi Rawas regency of South Sumatra province. Many Rawas people live in small cities or villages. In the west, the Rawas territory ascends to the peaks of the 2,068-meter-high Mount Hijau. To the south is the Musi Rawas regency capital, Lubuk Linggau, through which runs the trans-Sumatra … [Read more...]

Who are the Rejang?

The Rejang people live primarily in the province of Bengkulu, mainly in the Rejang Lebong Regency. Some also live in North Bengkulu Regency. The majority of Rejang live on the slopes of the Bukit Barisan mountain range, where the climate is cool and fresh. The Rafflesia flower (the world’s largest flower), as well as beautiful orchids, grow wild throughout this area. The Rejang have been known for their bravery and strength in battle. They have their own language, Rejang, with four … [Read more...]

Who are the Ranau?

The Ranau are a group who live near Lake Ranau in South Sumatra. They live in a few villages in South Ogan Komering Ulu regency, near Javanese, Daya, Komering and Chinese people who have lived in the area for several generations and mixed with the rest of the population. Linguistically, the Ranau speak a dialect of the Lampung Api language. They are able to understand the Komering, Daya and some other related languages. Ethnically, however, they identify with the Lampung Pesisir people, not … [Read more...]