Native Indonesians

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"Sons of the soil"
Bali – The People (2685069056).jpg
A Native Indonesian Balinese girl wearing kebaya during a traditional ceremony
Total population
(230 million (2006 estimation)[1])
Regions with significant populations
 Indonesia 255,461,700
Indonesia est 200 million[1]
Malaysia 1,085,658[2]
Saudi Arabia 850,000[3]
Netherlands 500.000
Hong Kong 102,100[4]
United States 101,270[5][6]
Australia 86.196[7]
United Arab Emirates 75,000[8]
Philippines 10,000[9]
Indonesian languages (Javanese, Sundanese, etc)
Predominantly Islam (Sunnis (99%), Shias and others (1%)[10][11][12][13]), Others (Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism)
Related ethnic groups
Mongoloid, Austronesian peoples, Papuans, Polynesians, Negrito, Melanesians

a The figure in Malaysia merely assert those who holds an Indonesian citizenship, the figure doesn't include Malaysian who have some Indonesian ancestry which potentially double or triple of figure, due to the constant migration since millennia ago.

Native Indonesians or Pribumi, literally "sons of the land", is the population group in Indonesia that shares a similar sociocultural and ethnic heritage whose members are considered as natives of the country.[1] The term native Indonesians should not be confused with the more generic term Indonesians or Indonesian citizen, the latter might apply to a larger demographic group which include ethnicities of foreign origin, such as Chinese Indonesians.

Translated from inlander in Dutch, the term was first coined by the Dutch colonial administration to lump diverse groups of local inhabitants of Indonesia's archipelago, mostly for social discrimination purposes. During the colonial period, the Dutch instilled a regime of three-level racial separation; the first class race being Europeans; the second class race being those of partial European ancestry as well as "Foreign Orientals" (Vreemde Oosterlingen) which includes Chinese, Arabs, and Indians; and the third class race being the natives (Inlanders), including Javanese, Malays, Dayaks, Papuans and Moluccans. The colonial system was similar to the caste system in Hispanic America, or the South African apartheid system, which prohibited inter-racial neighborhoods (wet van wijkenstelsel) and inter-racial interactions were limited by passenstelsel laws.


Pribumi make up about 95% of Indonesian population.[1] Using Indonesia’s population estimate in 2006, this translates to about 230 million people. As an umbrella of similar cultural heritage among various ethnic groups in Indonesia, Pribumi culture plays a significant role in shaping the country’s socioeconomic condition.

The United States Library of Congress Country Study of Indonesia defines Pribumi as:

Literally, an indigene, or native. In the colonial era, the great majority of the population of the archipelago came to regard themselves as indigenous, in contrast to the non-indigenous Dutch and Chinese (and, to a degree, Arab) communities. After independence the distinction persisted, expressed as a dichotomy between elements that were pribumi and those that were not. The distinction has had significant implications for economic development policy

— Indonesia: A Country Study, Glossary[14]

There are over 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia.[15] 200 million of those are of Native Indonesian ancestry.

The largest ethnic group in Indonesia is the Javanese who make up 41% of the total population. The Javanese are concentrated on the island of Java but millions have migrated to other islands throughout the archipelago.[16] The Sundanese, Malay, and Madurese are the next largest groups in the country.[16] Many ethnic groups, particularly in Kalimantan and Papua, have only hundreds of members. Most of the local languages belong to Austronesian language family, although a significant number, particularly in Papua, speak Papuan languages.

The division and classification of ethnic groups in Indonesia is not rigid and in some case are unclear as the result of migrations, also cultural and linguistic influences; for example some[who?] may agree that Bantenese and Cirebonese are belongs to different ethnic group with their own distinct dialect, however others[who?] might consider them as Javanese sub-ethnicities, the member of larger Javanese people. The same case also with Baduy people that share so many similarities with the Sundanese people that they can be considered as belonging to the same ethnic group. The example of hybrid ethnicity is Betawi people, the result of a mixture of different native ethnicities with Arab, Chinese and Indian since the era of colonial Batavia (Jakarta).

Several major ethno-linguistic groups of Indonesia.

The proportional populations of Native Indonesians according to the (2009 census) is as follows:

Ethnic groups Population (million) Percentage Main Regions
Javanese 86.012 41.7 East Java, Central Java, Lampung
Sundanese 31.765 15.4 West Java, Banten, Lampung
Malay 8.789 4.1 Sumatra eastern coast, West Kalimantan
Madurese 6.807 3.3 Madura island, East Java
Batak 6.188 3.0 North Sumatra
Bugis 6.000 2.9 South Sulawesi, East Kalimantan
Minangkabau 5.569 2.7 West Sumatra, Riau
Betawi 5.157 2.5 Jakarta, Banten, West Java
Banjarese 4.800 2.3 South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan
Bantenese 4.331 2.1 Banten, West Java
Acehnese 4.000 1.9 Aceh
Balinese 3.094 1.5 Bali
Sasak 3.000 1.4 West Nusa Tenggara
Makassarese 2.063 1.0 South Sulawesi
Cirebonese 1.856 0.9 West Java, Central Java

Physical characteristics

The three great races according to Meyers Konversationslexikon of 1885-90. The subtypes of the Mongoloid race are shown in yellow and orange tones, those of the Europid race in light and medium grayish spring green-cyan tones and those of the Negroid race in brown tones. Dravidians and Sinhalese are in olive green and their classification is described as uncertain. The Mongoloid race sees the widest geographic distribution, including all of the Americas, North Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia, the entire inhabited Arctic.
Native Torajan girls.

Native Indonesians skin color ranges from yellow to light brown to very dark brown or black skin color. Archaeologist Peter Bellwood claims that the "vast majority" of people in Indonesia and Malaysia, the region he calls the "clinal Mongoloid-Australoid zone", are "Southern Mongoloids" but have a "high degree" of Australoid admixture.[17] File:Unlabeled Renatto Luschan Skin color map.svg

Genetic research

Most Native Indonesians are genetically close to Asians while the more eastern one goes how more people show Melanesian affinity. Geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza claims that there is a genetic division between East and Southeast Asians.[18] In a like manner, Zhou Jixu agrees that there is a physical difference between these two populations.[19] Other geneticists have found evidence for four separate populations, carrying distinct sets of non-recombining Y chromosome lineages, within the traditional Mongoloid category: North Asians, Han Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asians.[20] The complexity of genetic data has led to doubt about the usefulness of the concept of a Mongoloid race itself, since distinctive East Asian features may represent separate lineages and arise from environmental adaptations or retention of common proto-Eurasian ancestral characteristics.[21]

Smaller groups

Native Balinese kids

The regions of Indonesia have some of their indigenous ethnic groups. Due to migration within Indonesia (as part of government transmigration programs or otherwise), there are significant populations of ethnic groups who reside outside of their traditional regions.

Pribumi worldwide

Nias warrior
Asmat woodcarver


Malaysia shares a border with Indonesia and both countries share many aspects of their culture, including mutually intelligible national languages. Populations have long moved between the areas which make up the modern-day states. Many people from Java, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Sulawesi, which are located in modern-day Indonesia, migrated and settled to the Malay Peninsula and some to the Malaysian Borneo since time immemorial. These earlier populations have mostly effectively or partially assimilated with the larger Malaysian-Malay community due to religious, social and cultural similarities. Currently, it is also estimated that there are around 2 million Indonesian citizens in Malaysia at any given time, ranging from all types of background with a significant majority of them consisting of labour migrants, with a considerable number of professionals and students.

Saudi Arabia

Indonesian pilgrims have long lived in Hejaz, a region along the west coast of Saudi Arabia. Among them was Ahmad Khatib, who served as the Imam of the Shafi'i school of law at the mosque known as Masjidil Haram, Mecca.[22] Today, most of Indonesians in Saudi Arabia are female domestic workers, with a minority of other types of labour migrants and students. Most of the santri extension studied in Saudi, as well as Al Azhar University in Cairo.

United States

In the United States, most Indonesians are students and professionals. Boston University, University of California and Harvard University are some of the favorite schools for Indonesian people. In the Silicon Valley region of Northern California, there are many Indonesian-American engineers working in the high-tech industry.


The Malays in Singapore (Malay: Orang Melayu Singapura) make up about 14% of the country's population. Most of them came from Indonesia. In the 19th century, Singapore was part of Johor-Riau Sultanate. Many Indonesian people, mainly Bugi and Minangkabau settled in Singapore. From 1886 till 1890, as many as 21,000 Javanese became bonded labourers with the Singapore Chinese Protectorate, an organisation formed by the British in 1877 to monitor the Chinese population. They performed manual labour in the rubber plantations. After their bond ended, they continued to open up the land and stayed on in Johore. Famous Singaporeans of Indonesian descent are the first president of Singapore Yusof bin Ishak, and Zubir Said who composed the national anthem of Singapore Majulah Singapura.

The Netherlands

Indonesia was the colony of the Netherlands. Early 20th century, many Indonesian students studied in the Netherlands. Most of them lived in Leiden and active in Indonesian Vereeniging. During Indonesian National Revolution, many Moluccans migrated to the Netherlands. Most of them were ex KNIL army. In this way around 12,500 persons were settled in the Netherlands. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, Denny Landzaat, Roy Makaay, Mia Audina, and Daniel Sahuleka are famous people of Indonesian ancestry in the Netherlands.


Before Dutch and British sailors arrived in Australia, the Indonesians from Southern Sulawesi explored Australia northern coast. Each year, Bugi sailors would sail down on the northwestern monsoon in their wooden pinisi. They would stay in Australia for several months to trade and take tripang (dried sea cucumber) before returning to Makassar on the dry season offshore winds. These trading voyages continued until 1907.[citation needed]


The Indonesian people, mainly Javanese, make up 15% of the population Suriname. In the 19th century, the Dutch sent the Javanese to Suriname as contract workers in plantations. The most famous person of Indonesian descent is Paul Somohardjo as the speaker of the National Assembly of Suriname.[23]


Hong Kong

South Korea

United Arab Emirates


Like its other neighbors Malaysia and Singapore, Indonesia also shares a close and important history with the Philippines, as the two countries underwent migrations and back-migrations in their ancient histories. The southern parts of the Philippines were under the jurisprudence of the Majapahit Empire, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription also records interactions between the native Tagalog kingdoms in present-day Manila and that of the Kingdom of Medang. The eastern parts of North Kalimantan were part of the historical Sultanate of Sulu. According to Visayan legend, the Rajahnate of Cebu was found by a Sumatran prince by the name of Sri Lumay. Rajah Baguinda was a Minangkabau prince who migrated to the Sulu Archipelago. In the 1600s, during the colonial era, Spanish soldiers deported the Sultan of Ternate and his family to Manila, after conquering and capturing the Ternate Sultanate.

Today, Indonesians in the Philippines number anywhere from 43,871 to 101,720. They mostly reside in the island of Mindanao, in the Muslim parts with a noticeable community in Davao City that has an international school for the overseas community. They tend to be protective of their separate ethnic identity. Most are Muslims, while many others are also Christian - who, come from Minahasan-speaking ancestry.


Traditional performing arts


Indonesia is home to various styles of music, with those from the islands of Java, Sumatra and Bali being frequently recorded. The traditional music of west, central, East Java and Bali is the gamelan.

Kroncong is a musical genre that uses guitars and ukuleles as the main musical instruments. This genre had its roots in Portugal and was introduced by Portuguese traders in the fifteenth century. There is a traditional Keroncong Tugu music group in North Jakarta and other traditional Keroncong music groups in Maluku, with strong Portuguese influences. This music genre was popular in the first half of the twentieth century; a contemporary form of Kroncong is called Pop Kroncong.

Angklung musical orchestra, native of West Java, received international recognition as UNESCO has listed the traditional West Java musical instrument made from bamboo in the list of intangible cultural heritage.[24][25]

The soft Sasando music from the province of East Nusa Tenggara in West Timor is completely different. Sasando uses an instrument made from a split leaf of the Lontar palm (Borassus flabellifer), which bears some resemblance to a harp.


Balinese Topeng dance drama.

Indonesian dance reflects the diversity of culture from ethnic groups that composed the nation of Indonesia. Austronesian roots and Melanesian tribal dance forms are visible, and influences ranging from neighboring Asian countries; such as India, China, and Middle East to European western styles through colonization. Each ethnic group has their own distinct dances; makes total dances in Indonesia are more than 3000 Indonesian original dances. However, the dances of Indonesia can be divided into three eras; the Prehistoric Era, the Hindu/Buddhist Era and the Era of Islam, and into two genres; court dance and folk dance.

There is a continuum in the traditional dances depicting episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata from India, ranging through Thailand, all the way to Bali. There is a marked difference, though, between the highly stylized dances of the courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta and their popular variations. While the court dances are promoted and even performed internationally, the popular forms of dance art and drama must largely be discovered locally.

During the last few years, Saman from Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam has become rather popular and is often portrayed on TV.

Drama and theatre

Wayang kulit performance.

Wayang, the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese shadow puppet theatre shows display several mythological legends such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, and many more. Wayang Orang is Javanese traditional dance drama based on wayang stories. Various Balinese dance drama also can be included within traditional form of Indonesian drama. Another form of local drama is Javanese Ludruk and Ketoprak, Sundanese Sandiwara, and Betawi Lenong. All of these drama incorporated humor and jest, often involving audiences in their performance.

Randai is a folk theatre tradition of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, usually performed for traditional ceremonies and festivals. It incorporates music, singing, dance, drama and the silat martial art, with performances often based on semi-historical Minangkabau legends and love story.

Modern performing art also developed in Indonesia with their distinct style of drama. Notable theatre, dance, and drama troupe such as Teater Koma are gain popularity in Indonesia as their drama often portray social and political satire of Indonesian society.

Martial Arts

Pencak Silat demonstration in Jakarta.

The martial art of pencak silat was thought to be created and firstly developed in the islands of Java and Sumatra. It is an art for survival and is practiced throughout Indonesian archipelago. Centuries-long tribal warfare in Indonesian history has shaped silat as it was used by the ancient warriors of Indonesia. Throughout their history, there were many wars between various indigenous tribes and kingdoms.[26] Further, proficiency in silat was used to determine the rank and position in old Indonesian kingdoms.

Contacts with Indians and Chinese have enriched silat. Silat reached areas beyond Indonesia mainly through diaspora of Indonesian people. People from various regions like Aceh, Minangkabau, Riau, Bugis, Makassar, Java, Banjar, etc. moved into and settled in Malay Peninsula and other islands. They brought silat and passed it down to their descendants. The Indonesians of partially Dutch descent are also credited as the first to have brought silat to Europe.

Silat was used by Indonesian freedom fighters during their struggle against the Dutch colonists. Unfortunately after Indonesian independence, silat became less popular among Indonesian youth in comparison to foreign martial arts like Karate and Taekwondo. This probably because silat was not taught openly and only passed down among blood relatives, the other reason is the lack of media portrayal of the art.

Efforts have been made in recent years to popularize silat to Indonesian youth and to the world. Exhibitions and promotions by individuals as well as state-sponsored groups helped the growing of silat's popularity, particularly in Europe and United States. An Indonesian silat movie Merantau released in 2009 is one effort to introduce silat to international scene.

Another martial art from Indonesia is Tarung Derajat. It is a modern combat system created by Haji Ahmad Drajat based on his experience as a street fighter. Tarung Drajat has been acknowledge as a national sport by KONI in 1998 and is now used by the Indonesian Army as part of their basic training.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Pribumi". Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved 2006-10-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2008. "Foreign Workers by Country of Origin (1999 -2008) - Official Portal of Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister's Department Malaysia" (PDF). Economic Planning Unit. Retrieved 1 June 2012.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Migrant Communities in Saudi Arabia", Bad Dreams: Exploitation and Abuse of Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch, 2004<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Media Indonesia Online 2006-11-30
  5. "Race Reporting for the Asian Population by Selected Categories: 2010", 2010 Census Summary File 1, U.S. Census Bureau, retrieved 2012-02-21<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Barnes & Bennett 2002, p. 9
  8. Expatriates celebrate 64th Indonesian Independence Day in Abu Dhabi - Gulf News
  11. Religious clash in Indonesia kills up to six, Straits Times, 6 Feb 2011
  12. Reza, Imam. "Shia Muslims Around the World". Retrieved 2009-06-11. approximately 400,000 persons who subscribe to the Ahmadiyya<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "International Religious Freedom Report 2008". US Department of State. Retrieved March 31, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. The Library of Congress, Federal Research Division. "Glossary -- Indonesia". A Country Study: Indonesia. Retrieved 2006-10-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Kuoni - Far East, A world of difference. Page 88. Published 1999 by Kuoni Travel & JPM Publications
  16. 16.0 16.1 Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 2003.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Bellwood, Peter. Pre-History of the Indo-malaysian Archipelago. Australian National University:1985. ISBN 978-1-921313-11-0
  18. The Chinese Human Genome Diversity Project, L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza
  19. The Rise of Agricultural Civilization in China, Sino-Platonic Papers 175, Zhou Jixu, citing Ho Ping-ti, ISBN 0-226-34524-6
  20. TAJIMA Atsushi, PAN I.-Hung, FUCHAROEN Goonnapa, FUCHAROEN Supan, MATSUO Masafumi, TOKUNAGA Katsushi, JUJI Takeo, HAYAMI Masanori, OMOTO Keiichi, HORAI Satoshi, "Three major lineages of Asian Y chromosomes: implications for the peopling of east and southeast Asia," Human Genetics 2002, vol. 110, no1, pp. 80-88
  21. Encyclopædia Britannica, Mongoloid
  22. Ricklefs, M.C. (1994). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300. Stanford University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. English Not On Menu For Wednesday's Press Briefing
  24. UNESCO, Angklung was officially recognized in Nov 18, 2010 at the Fifth Unesco Inter-Governmental Committee meeting on Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nairobi, Kenya.
  25. UNESCO grants Indonesia's angklung cultural heritage title
  26. "Pencak Silat". Discovery Channel. Retrieved 5 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Center for Information and Development Studies. (1998) Pribumi dan Non-Pribumi dalam Perspektif Pemerataan Ekonomi dan Integrasi Sosial (Pribumi and Non-Pribumi in the Perspective of Economic Redistribution and Social Integration). Jakarta, Indonesia: Center for Information and Development Studies
  • Suryadinata, Leo. (1992) Pribumi Indonesians, the Chinese Minority, and China. Singapore: Heinemann Asia.