The Variety of Indonesian Ethnic Nations – Indonesia consists of around 1,340 ethnic groups spread across almost all parts of Indonesia. According to BPS data, half or 50% of ethnic groups in Indonesia are Javanese. The rest are ethnic groups living outside Java, such as the Makasarese, Bugis (3.68%), Batak 2.04%, Balinese 1.88%, Acehnese 1.4% and other tribes.
Each tribe has different customs and norms. However, this diversity does not make the nation divided, on the contrary, diversity then unites to achieve the goal of a just and prosperous society. Check out a more complete explanation about ethnic groups in Indonesia below:
Definition of Ethnicity
Ethnicity is a group of people who identify themselves with others based on lineage referring to characteristics such as culture, nation, language, religion and behavior. Ethnicity is also a social group that is distinguished from other social groups, because it has the most basic and general characteristics related to its origin, place of origin, and culture.
In another definition, ethnicity is also a special social tribe and is ascriptive or has existed since birth, and has the same style as age group and gender. Ethnic groups themselves can be grouped based on:
- Mixed ethnicity, in which there is a mixture of races that inhabit a certain area or region. For example, the Peranakans are a mixture of Chinese and Malay races
- Lineage, as the main factor for ethnicity. There are three lineages in Indonesia, namely the father’s lineage (patrilineal), usually in the Batak, Ambon, Timorese and others, the mother’s lineage (matrilineal), usually occurs in the Minangkabau tribe in South Sumatra and the lineage of the father and mother or parental mostly run by the Javanese.
You can learn about various tribes and unique traditions in Indonesia that will make you chuckle in awe, shudder with horror, curiosity, and stir your mind in the book 70 Unique Traditions of Ethnic Nations in Indonesia.
Tribes in Indonesia
1. The Javanese
The Javanese use Javanese in their daily speech, surveys show that only approximately 42% of Javanese use Indonesian as their everyday language, while another 28% use mixed Javanese and Indonesian, and the rest only use Javanese. .
The Javanese language itself has different rules in terms of vocabulary and intonation based on the relationship between the speaker and the interlocutor, which is known as upload-ungguh. This aspect of language has a strong social influence in Javanese culture, and makes them very aware of their social status in society.
In Javanese society, the kinship system is based on bilateral lineage (calculated from both sides, mother and father). With this bilateral or parental principle, a Javanese has the same extensive relationship with the family from the mother’s side as well as the father’s.
Relatively solid kinship is usually established in descendants of one ancestor up to the third generation. However, the quality of nuclear family and extended family relationships varies from one family circle to another, depending on the conditions of each family.
The Sundanese, known as the Tatar Pasundan, cover the western part of the island of Java where most of their territory is included in the provinces of West Java and Banten. Derived from the root word sunda or suddha in Sanskrit which means shining, bright and white.
The Sundanese themselves make up 5.5 percent of the total population of Indonesia as a whole. Even though they are scattered in various parts of Indonesia, most of the Sundanese people live in Banten, Jakarta and Java. The majority of this tribe is Muslim but there are also a small number of Christians, Hindus and even Sundanese Wiwitan.
3. Batak tribe
Tribes in Indonesia originate from North Sumatra and also tend to be scattered in various regions in Indonesia. Consisting of 3.58 of the total population of Indonesia as a whole. The Batak tribe is divided into several parts, namely the Toba Batak, Mandailing Batak, Pakpak Batak, and Karo Batak.
The Batak tribe is one of the tribes in Indonesia that maintains its culture. They adhere to traditions and customs. Until now, customs and culture are still carried out in the social life of the Batak people and in their daily activities. Some of the prevailing Batak customs and culture are:
- Partuturan : In the daily life of the Batak people, kinship (partuturan) is the key to their philosophy of life, namely by asking the surname of every Batak person they meet. This can be illustrated by carving 2 lizards facing each other attached to either side of the Batak house. This kinship is also a kind of great milestone to unite blood relations and determine attitudes towards others properly.
- Mangokal Holi : A ceremonial procession that is carried out to collect the bones of the parents’ bodies which are put into a new coffin to be moved to a place provided by the family. This tradition is a hereditary heritage that aims to pay homage to the spirits of parents who have passed away. The purpose of moving the location of the bones to a new place is to get a better place than the previous place.
4. Betawi tribe
The Betawi tribe as a tribe whose people are descended from residents who have lived in Batavia since the 17th century and are the result of mixed blood marriages from various ethnic groups brought by the Dutch to Batavia.
The Betawi tribe is also referred to as the original inhabitants of the Jakarta area. However, the Betawi people are scattered in other areas, such as Bogor and its surroundings. Betawi is a creole language based on Bazaar Malay plus elements of Sundanese, Balinese, languages from South China (especially Hokkien), Arabic, and languages from Europe, especially Dutch and Portuguese.
Because it develops naturally, there is no clear standard structure of this language that distinguishes it from Malay, although there are some distinguishing linguistic elements, for example from the decay of the prefix me-, the use of the ending -in (influenced by Balinese), and the transition of an open /a/ sound at the end of a word becomes /e/ or /ɛ/ in some local dialects.
Betawi itself is also famous for its culinary diversity related to the culture and traditions of eating in it which you can find in the book Culinary Betawi Selaksa Rasa & Stories which also discusses the sequence of events, ceremonies and celebrations.
5. The Dayak tribe
Dayak comes from the word “Daya” which means upstream, to refer to people who live in the interior or upstream. The Dayak tribe itself is one of the “Original” tribes that inhabit the “Island of Borneo” (Kalimantan).
Borneo is divided based on administrative areas, each of which consists of East Kalimantan with the capital of Samarinda, South Kalimantan with the capital of Banjarmasin, Central Kalimantan with the capital of Palangka Raya, West Kalimantan with the capital of Pontianak, and North Kalimantan with the capital of Tanjung Selor.
The Dayak tribe is divided into 405 sub-tribes. Each Dayak sub-tribe has similar customs and culture, according to their social status, both Dayak in Indonesia and Dayak in Sabah and Sarawak Malaysia as allied countries.
The Dayak tribe has similar cultural characteristics, such as saber, chopsticks, beliong, betang house or long house (radank house) and others. Other Dayak characteristics such as; weapons ownership and cultural arts.
6. Asmat tribe
Known as the incarnation of the Dewa tribe, this tribe from Papua believes that they are descended from the god Fumeripits. The Asmat tribe is also one of the tribes from the province of Papua which is worldwide because of its culture which respects nature and the lives of its ancestors, so the wisdom possessed by the Asmat tribe is also very extraordinary.
This one ethnicity is divided into two, namely tribes who live on the coast and tribes who live in the interior. The two populations differ in many aspects such as way of life, dialect, rituals and even social structure. The division of the Asmat language downstream of the river is divided into parts of the northwestern coast group and parts of the southwest coast group. Meanwhile, the Asmat language division is divided into the Keenok and Kaimok groups.
7. Bugis Tribe
The Bugis tribe is a tribe in Indonesia originating from South Sulawesi Province but has now spread to various regions in Indonesia, such as Papua, Jakarta, Kalimantan, to Riau.
This tribe belongs to the Deutero Malay (young Malay) tribes. Besides that, the Bugis community can also be found in Malaysia and Singapore. On the website of the Wajo District Office of Communication, Informatics and Statistics, the word Bugis comes from the word To Ugi, which means Bugis.
The name Ugi refers to the first king of the Chinese kingdom in Pammana, Wajo Regency, namely La Sattumpugi. They dub themselves as To Ugi or followers of La Sattumpugi. The main feature of this ethnic group is its language and customs. Thus, migrants from Malay and Minangkabau who have migrated to Sulawesi since the 15th century can also be categorized as Bugis people.
The Madurese are an ethnic group with a sizable population in Indonesia, numbering around 20 million people. They come from the island of Madura and the surrounding islands, such as Gili Raja, Sapudi, Raas, and Kangean. In addition, many Madurese live in the eastern part of Java, usually called the “horseshoe” area, from Pasuruan to North Banyuwangi.
The Madurese are known for their outspoken style of speech and their easily offended nature, but they are also known for being disciplined and diligent in working. Apart from that, the Madurese are also known to have a strong Islamic tradition, although they sometimes perform rituals of sea picking or rokat tasse.
In Madurese society, kinship ties are formed through lineage, both from families based on the father’s and mother’s lines ( paternal and maternal relatives ). In general, the ties of kinship among family members are tighter than the father’s lineage so they tend to “dominate”. The kinship ties of the Madurese themselves include up to four generations up ( ascending generations ) and down ( descending generations ) from the ego.
9. Minangkabau tribe
The next ethnic group in Indonesia is the Minang tribe, which is one of the largest ethnic groups in Indonesia, accounting for approximately 2.73 percent of the total Indonesian population.
Coming from West Sumatra, the Minang people are also often equated with the Padang people, because Padang is the capital of West Sumatra Province. Even so, the Minang people actually call their ethnic group as urang crew, which refers to the Minang people themselves.
In Minang culture, tribe can be interpreted as a clan or also as a clan or family name that descends or is taken from the mother’s lineage which is called Matrilineal. Rumah Gadang is a traditional Minangkabau house which also has other names, Rumah Gadang, Rumah Gadang, and Rumah Baanjuang.
This traditional house is a large stage model house with a rectangular shape. Adat in the Minang tribe, one of which is Adat nan Sabana Adat which is a legal provision, a characteristic found in natural objects, flora and fauna, as well as humans as His creations (Sunnatullah). Adat nan sabana This custom is a source of Minangkabau customary law in managing society in all matters.
10. Baduy tribe
The Baduy tribe is a tribe that lives in the interior of Banten, living isolated from the outside world, especially the Inner Baduy people who live simply and unite with nature. The Baduy tribe is indeed divided into two major groups, namely the Inner Baduy and the Outer Baduy. These two groups have differences, especially in terms of dress.
The Baduy Dalam are a group of Baduy people who strictly adhere to their ancestral customs. They strongly reject technology and modernization, so their lives are still traditional.
Inner Baduy people generally wear white clothes that are woven by themselves. The white color symbolizes purity. Meanwhile, the Outer Baduy are more open to newcomers, although they still uphold the existing customs.
Some of the Outer Baduy people have used modern items such as mattresses, pillows, and several electronic devices. All-black woven clothes are a sign of the Outer Baduy community. The location of the Baduy tribe itself is at the foot of the Kendeng mountains in the village of Kanekes.
The Kanekes people or commonly known as the Baduy people are an ethnic group originating from the Banten region, more precisely in Lebak. The Baduy tribe also still has a relationship with the Sundanese. It is not surprising that their physique resembles most Sundanese people and their daily language is Sundanese.
11. The Balinese
In Balinese, the Balinese are known as Wong Bali, Anak Bali, or Krama Bali. This tribe is the majority ethnic group on the island of Bali. The total population of the Balinese people living on the island of Bali is around 3.3 million people. Meanwhile there are around 600,000 people scattered in several regions in the country.
Some of these areas are West Nusa Tenggara. Lampung, Bengkulu, Central Sulawesi, and several other areas. The Balinese use Balinese in their daily activities. The social life system of the people themselves is called Wangsa. Wangsa is a family system that is regulated through lineage.
Today the Wangsa system is not as strictly enforced as it was in the past. In some respects, however, the Wangsa system was retained. For example, in a traditional ceremony that has become a tradition or in a marriage that still distinguishes one’s ancestral lineage.
12. The Ambonese
The largest tribe in Maluku is a mixture of Austronesian-Papuan tribes originating from the Ambon-Laese Islands from the western side of Seram Island. The language used by the Ambonese is a blend of natives and Ambonese Malay or Nasalaut. As many as 100,000 people use this language and are divided into several dialects, namely Nasalaut, Saparua, Haruku, Hatu, Asilulu, Hila, Wakasihu, and others.
The main source of livelihood for the Ambonese is farming in fields. The crops usually grown are rice, corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, coffee, coconut, vegetables, tobacco, cloves, fruits and sago. Sago is the most important plant for the Ambonese people because it will be processed into their staple food, namely papeda, this food derived from sago is usually served with yellow fish sauce.
Regarding kinship, they pass through the patrilineal line with a pattern of settling after marriage in the patrilocal environment. While the most important kinship unit is a family unit or called the matarumah (nuclear family).
13. Gayo tribe
Approaching the central part of Aceh province, there is a tribe that inhabits the Gayo Highlands, namely the Gayo tribe. However, apart from coming from this area, several Gyao tribal people also live in several areas of East Aceh such as the Serba Jadi, Simpang Jernih and Peunaron sub-districts.
The Gayo tribe belongs to the Proto-Malay race group originating from India. There are 3 groups in the Gayo tribal community, firstly the people who live in the Bener Meriah and Central Aceh areas are called Gayo Laut. Second , the people who live in the Southeast Aceh and GAyo Lues areas are called Gayo Lues, and the three people who live in the Aceh Tamiang sub-district are called Gayo Blang.
When talking about the Gayo tribe, there is something that is characteristic of them, namely Gayo coffee. Who is not familiar with Gayo coffee, Arabica coffee which is famous for having a very strong taste and is much loved by coffee lovers. In Gayo, there are two coffee plantations that produce the best quality coffee, namely Bener Meriah, Central Aceh and Takengon.
14. The Tengger Tribe
The Tengger tribe is a tribe that inhabits the area of Mount Bromo, Malang. In accordance with the region, the people of the Tengger tribe believe that Mount Bromo or Mount Brahma is a sacred mountain. There is one of the Tengger tribal customs which is carried out at the foot of Mount Bromo, namely the Yadnya Kasada or Kasodo ceremony.
The Yadnya Kasada ceremony is a ritual ceremony held by the Tengger people as a form of gratitude as well as a hope to avoid disaster. The process of this ceremony is carried out by providing crops and throwing them into the crater of Mount Bromo.
The tribal people who are descended from the Majapahit kingdom are generally Hindu and still adhere to their customs. Even though it is in a tourist area and many tourists visit, cultural acculturation is still rare. Therefore the customs and culture of the Tengger tribe are still very sustainable today.
15. Sasak tribe
One of the tribes in Indonesia that still adheres to its traditions is the Sasak tribe, which is a tribe located in Lombok. The Sasak people have houses made of clay mixed with buffalo dung. The word Sasak etymologically comes from the word “sak-sak” which means one or main, related to the book written by Mpu Prapanca, namely Nagarakertagama. Therefore, the people assume that the ancestors of the Sasak tribe are Javanese.
There is a unique tradition within the Sasak tribe, namely eloping. In ordinary society this may be considered taboo, but actually this is a unique tradition from the Sasak tribe. If a couple wants to get married, the groom will take the bride for 3 days to a certain place without the knowledge of her parents. After that, the prospective bride’s parents will “redeemed” their child and continue talking about her marriage.
16. Sumbawa Tribe
The Sumbawa tribe originates from Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara. Judging from its geographical location, Sumbawa is in an area that has good forest products because it is located on the hills. Some of them are teak, rattan, sepang wood, deer, and honey. The Sumbawa people live in the Sumbawa and West Sumbawa districts.
The majority religion of the Sumbawa people is Islam, so many activities are related to religion. But even so, the people of the Sumbawa tribe generally still believe in superstitions. Such as superstitions about the environment, superstitions about the unseen world, superstitions about the universe, and so on.
17. Flores Tribe
The Flores people are a mixture of Portuguese, Melanesian and Malay ethnicities. If you remember, before that Flores was a colony of the Portuguese, therefore the culture of the Portuguese nation is still very much felt in this region. The name Flores itself is also taken from the Portuguese which means “cape of flowers”.
Generally, the people of the Flores tribe already adhere to religious beliefs such as Islam, Christianity and others. However, there are still many people who believe in ancestor worship. One of them is like special worship to the spirits and ancestors by establishing and maintaining a building.
The Toraja tribe, originates from South Sulawesi and dominates the population in the city of Makassar. One of the well-known cultures of the Toraja tribe is the death ceremony, in Toraja society the death ceremony is only for someone who has money. So families who don’t have money will wait months or even years to collect money and hold a death ceremony.
19. The Osing Tribe
Javanese Osing or Wong Blambangan, that’s how the native tribe of Banyuwangi is usually pronounced. This tribe, originating from East Java, uses an everyday language known as Osing which is a derivative of Old Javanese and has a slight influence from Balinese, and usually has an accent and style of language which is not difficult to distinguish from Javanese in general. Based on history in general, the East Java region was one of the areas that used to be dominated by Hindu-Buddhist beliefs from the kingdoms that once ruled the area, which later also became the belief of the Osing tribe itself. However, along with the development of Islam in Java, it also had an impact on the beliefs of the Osing Tribe, who then began to adhere to it.
The Osing tribe has a variety of arts and customs that are characteristic, such as the Tumpeng Sewu Tradition (eating big during the month of Hajj), the Barong Dance or Barong Ider Bumi which is held every second day of the month of Shawwal, the Angklung Paglak Tradition is also a characteristic of what is done as a entertainment as well as to help farmers in harvesting, and there is also the Gandrung Dance which has become a typical Banyuwangi dance until now. At traditional events, the Osing tribe usually wears a traditional dress called the Jebeng Thulik Clothing, which is a long-sleeved kebaya with embroidery that looks elegant and simple with a special Banyuwangi bun added.
20. Mandar Tribe
Tanah Mandar or the Mandar tribe is a tribe in West Sulawesi and parts of South and Central Sulawesi. The term Mandar is a bond of unity between the seven kingdoms on the coast (Pitu Babana Binanga) and the seven kingdoms on the mountain (Pitutu Ulunna Salu), all of these peoples are united through an agreement made by their ancestors at Allewuang Batu in Luyo.
The Mandar tribe is known as a tribe that has prowess as sailors, not because of technological superiority, but because of the local fishing equipment they have developed, namely FADs and Sandeq boats which are characterized by traditional outriggers and very fast.
The Mandar tribe has several unique arts and traditions that are characteristic of their area, such as Kalindaqdaq which is a parable when you want to convey a wish to someone, which can be in the form of seduction, poetry or a motivation to other people.
Then there is Sayyang Pattu’du which is interpreted as a dancing horse which is a tradition of thanksgiving for children who have succeeded in completing Juz 30 of the Qur’an in the form of a procession around the village using dancing horses accompanied by rhythmic chants.
The Mandar tribe also has an art called Parrawana or Rebana which is performed every time there is a wedding party or even at the Sayyang Pattu’du event where the horse will dance to the accompaniment of the Tambourine rhythm.
With the various ethnic groups in Indonesia who have their own traditions and culture, the book Encyclopedia of Tribes in Indonesia is here to summarize various important things that you should know about the diversity of ethnic groups in Indonesia.
List of other tribes in Indonesia
- Kubu Tribe – Sumatra (Jambi)
- Sakai Tribe – Sumatra
- Alas Tribe – Sumatra
- Devayan Tribe – Sumatra
- Haloban Tribe – Sumatra
- Kluet Tribe – Sumatra
- The Lekon Tribe – Sumatra
- Pakpak tribe – Sumatra
- The Sigulai Tribe – Sumatra
- Singkil Tribe – Sumatra
- Tamiang Tribe – Sumatra
- Aneuk Jamee Tribe – Sumatra (Aceh)
- Nias Tribe – Sumatra
- Mentawai Tribe – Sumatra
- Sea Tribe – Sumatra
- Belitung Tribe – Sumatra
- Bangka Tribe – Sumatra
- The Inner Child Tribe – Sumatra
- The Great Wood Tribe – Sumatra
- Palembang-Sumatra tribe
- Banjar Tribe – Kalimantan
- Kutai Tribe – Borneo
- Berau Tribe – Borneo
- Paser Tribe – Kalimantan
- Balinese – Balinese
- Loloan Tribe – Bali
- Bima Tribe – West Nusa Tenggara
- Sumbawa Tribe – West Nusa Tenggara
- The Boti Tribe – East Nusa Tenggara
- Bunak Tribe – East Nusa Tenggara
- Manggarai Tribe – East Nusa Tenggara
- Sika Tribe – East Nusa Tenggara
- The Sumba Tribe – East Nusa Tenggara
- The Rote Tribe – East Nusa Tenggara
- Ngada Tribe – East Nusa Tenggara
- Ende Tribe – East Nusa Tenggara
- Gorontalo Tribe – North Sulawesi
- Kaidipang Tribe – North Sulawesi
- Minahasa Tribe – North Sulawesi
- Mongondow Tribe – North Sulawesi
- Sangir Tribe – North Sulawesi
- Bungku Tribe – Central Sulawesi
- Balesang Tribe – Central Sulawesi
- Balantak Tribe – Central Sulawesi
- Wakatobi Tribe – Southeast Sulawesi
- Fordata Tribe – Maluku
- Mamale Tribe – Maluku
- Nuaulu Tribe – Maluku
- Morotai Tribe – Maluku
- Halmahera Tribe – Maluku
- Wemale Tribe – Maluku
- The Wai Apu Tribe – Maluku
- Tribe of Ternate – Maluku
- Tidore Tribe – Maluku
- Seram Tribe – Maluku
- Sawai tribe – Maluku
- Aero Tribe – Papua
Those are most of the tribes in Indonesia, although of course there are many other tribes that we haven’t explored in more depth. I hope this information is helpful!
Also read articles related to “Ethnic Nations in Indonesia” :
- Dimensions of Pancasila as an Open Ideology
- History of Pancasila
- Understanding Pancasila as a Source of Value
- The Meaning and Meaning of Pancasila as State Ideology
- Understanding Pancasila Democracy
- History of the Garuda Pancasila Coat of Arms
- Understanding Archipelagic Insight
- The Meaning of Pancasila as the Source of All Sources of Law
- Meaning of the Youth Pledge
- The Practice of Pancasila Values
Source: from various sources