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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 Lampung Sungkai?

The Sungkai have a strong social structure and make up their own subgroup within the Lampung cluster. The Sungkai are also known as the Bunga Mayang. The Sungkai live in the North Lampung regency. According to their ancient historical records, the Sungkai are likely closely related to the other Lampung ethnic groups. The Sungkai use a dialect of the Lampung Api language. It has several levels of formal language. Most Sungkai also speak Indonesian. Some also speak the languages of local … [Read more...]

Who are the Lampung Pesisir?

The indigenous people who live along the coastline of Lampung province are called the Lampung Pesisir (Coastal Lampung), or the Lampung Peminggir (“outskirts”). They have four subgroups. They speak a dialect of the Lampung Api language. The word api means “what?” There are two lines of cultural tradition in Lampung. They are Pepadun and Saibatin (“one leader”). Each subgroup of Lampung Pesisir has only one autonomous leader—a Prince or a Sultan. What are their lives like? Most of the Lampung … [Read more...]

Who are the Simeulue?

The Simeulue people live on an island included in West Aceh Province, Indonesia. Simeulue Island is about 120 km in length, and many of its inhabitants share kinship ties with one another. Sinabang is its largest city. Small towns and villages line the coast. Kampung Aie is one of the most important towns, serving as the center of Islam and the more refined dialect of the Simeulue language. “Mae o?” (Where are you going) is one of the most commonly asked questions on Simeulue. The residents … [Read more...]

Who are the Serawai?

The Serawai are a Malay ethnic group who live in Bengkulu province. Serawai call themselves Orang Selatan (People of the South), even though there are Kaur and Besemah people in this southern section of the province as well. The Serawai have their own language, which has two dialects. What are their lives like? The rural Serawai live in wooden houses raised on stilts which have thatched roofs made from leaves. The space below the house is used for storage or for keeping livestock. Villages are … [Read more...]

Who are the Semendo?

The Semendo are also often called Semende or Jeme Semendo. The Semendo live in the South Sumatra and Lampung provinces. The Semendo language is similar to Besemah and Lintang dialects, except that the Semendo tend to use /e/ at the end of words. What are their lives like? Most Semendo have been farmers for generations. Their fertile farmland lies approximately 900 meters above sea level. There are two main crops produced, rice and Robusta coffee. Semendo is one of the primary rice-producing … [Read more...]

Who are the Selayar?

The Selayar people group live primarily on the island of Selayar and several other smaller islands in South Sulawesi. The Selayar are frequently referred to as To Hale or “the people across.” It is not difficult to reach the island of Selayar because a boat that makes the trip twice a day. There are flights that make the Makassar-Selayar trip as well.  The Selayar language is part of a larger linguistic group called the Makassar which also includes the Konjo Pesisir (Konjo-coastal), Bentong … [Read more...]

Who are the Lintang?

The Lintang, or as they are more commonly known, Lintang Empat Lawang, is a mixture of the Lintang and Empat Lawang people. The Lintang are also often called the Musi Ulu people. They live along the left and right forks of the Lintang River in South Sumatra province. The Lintang understand the Besemah, Semende, Lematang, Kikim, and Enim dialects. They can understand Palembang Indonesian well. Some characteristic language features include the use of the words nedo, which means ‘no’ or ‘not yet’, … [Read more...]

Who are the Lampung Pubian?

The Lampung Pubian people have a very clear cultural organizational structure, which separates them from other peoples within the Lampung cluster. The Pubian are also called the Three Clans of Pubian because in the past they were made up of three clans. The concept of clan (suku) for the Pubian refers to a broader association than other groups in the region, because for them a clan can consist of several villages. The Pubian are made up of two subgroups. Each subgroup is made up of six clans. … [Read more...]

Who are the Kaili Ledo?

The Kaili Ledo people live in the northern part of Central Sulawesi. The area is very mountainous. Even so, Palu is known to be one of the driest place in Indonesia. The word ledo means “no.” Besides the prestigious Ledo (Palu) variety in everyday life, the people also speak ten other Kaili dialects. The dialects are named after their word for “no.” The Kaili Ledo language is closely related to the Baras, Kaili Da’a, and Kaili Unde languages. What are their lives like? Family is very … [Read more...]

Who are the Gayo?

The Gayo live in the isolated central mountains of Aceh province on the island of Sumatra. Their homeland lies in the Bukit Barisan Range (“Parade of Mountains”). They are over 12,000 feet high and extend more than one thousand miles. Most Gayo live in the Central Aceh and Southeast Aceh regencies. The Gayo language has four dialects: Lut, Serbejadi-Lukup, Lut and Luwes. Their language does not have a writing system, but folk tales, stories and poetry are passed down orally. The Gayo are close … [Read more...]