Ethnic groups in Indonesia

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There are 633[1] recognised ethnic groups in Indonesia. The vast majority of those belong to the Austronesian peoples.

Based on ethnic classification, the largest ethnic group in Indonesia is the Javanese who make up about 40% of the total population. The Javanese are concentrated on the island of Java, but millions have migrated to other islands throughout the archipelago because of the transmigration program.[2] The Sundanese, Melayu people, Batak, Madurese, Minangkabau, and Buginese are the next largest groups in the country.[2] Many ethnic groups, particularly in Kalimantan and Papua, have only hundreds of members. Most of the local languages belong to the Austronesian language family, although a significant number of people, particularly in eastern Indonesia, speak unrelated Papuan languages. Chinese Indonesians make up a little less than 1% of the total Indonesian population according to the 2000 census.[2] Some of these Indonesians of Chinese descent speak various Chinese dialects, most notably Hokkien and Hakka.

The classification of ethnic groups in Indonesia is not rigid and in some cases unclear due to migrations, cultural and linguistic influences; for example, some may consider the Bantenese and Cirebonese to be members of the Javanese people; however, others argue that they are different ethnic groups altogether since they have their own distinct dialects. This is the same case with the Baduy people, who share many cultural similarities with the Sundanese people. An example of hybrid ethnicity is the Betawi people, descended not only from marriages between different peoples native to Indonesia but also with Arab, Chinese and Indian migrants since the era of colonial Batavia (modern-day Jakarta).



Number and percentage of population of ethnic groups with more than a million members according to the 2010 census.[3][a]

Ethnic group Population (millions) Percentage Main regions
Javanese 94.843 40.06 Bengkulu, East Java, East Kalimantan, Central Java, Jambi, Lampung, North Sumatra, Riau, South Sumatra, Yogyakarta
Sundanese 36.705 15.51 Banten, West Java
Malay 8.754 3.70 Bangka-Belitung Islands, Jambi, North Sumatra, Riau, Riau Islands, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan
Batak 8.467 3.58 North Sumatra, Riau, Riau Islands, Jakarta
Madurese 7.179 3.03 East Java
Betawi 6.808 2.88 Jakarta
Minangkabau 6.463 2.73 Riau, West Sumatra
Buginese 6.415 2.71 Central Sulawesi, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, West Sulawesi
Bantenese 4.642 1.96 Banten
Banjarese 4.127 1.74 South Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan
Balinese 3.925 1.66 Bali
Acehnese 3.404 1.44 Aceh
Dayak 3.220 1.36 Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, West Kalimantan
Sasak 3.175 1.34 West Nusa Tenggara
Chinese Indonesian 2.833 1.20 Bangka-Belitung Islands, North Sumatra, Jakarta, Riau, Riau Islands, West Kalimantan, North Coast of Central Java and East Java.
Makassarese 2.673 1.13 South Sulawesi
Cirebonese 1.878 0.79 West Java
Lampung 1.376 0.58 Lampung
Palembang 1.252 0.53 South Sumatra
Gorontalo 1.252 0.53 Gorontalo
Minahasan 1.240 0.52 North Sulawesi
Nias 1.042 0.44 North Sumatra

The proportions of Indonesian ethnic groups according to the (2000 census) are as follows:[4] It must be noted that some ethnic groups which are now recognized as being distinct were subsumed under larger umbrella groups up until 2001. Since the 2010 census, they are counted separately.

Ethnic group Population (million) Percentage Main regions
Javanese 92.24 42.00 Central Java, East Java, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, North Sumatra, South Sumatra, Bengkulu, Lampung
Sundanese 30.978 15.41 West Java, Banten, Jakarta, Lampung
Malay 6.946 3.45 Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau, Riau Islands, Jambi, South Sumatra, Bangka–Belitung Islands, West Kalimantan
Madurese 6.772 3.37 Madura Island, East Java
Batak 6.076 3.02 North Sumatra, Aceh, West Sumatra, Riau, Riau Islands, Jakarta
Minangkabau 5.475 2.72 West Sumatra, Riau, Riau Islands, Jakarta
Betawi 5.042 2.51 Jakarta, Banten, West Java
Bugis 5.010 2.49 South Sulawesi, South East Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, East Kalimantan
Acehnese 4.419 2.05 Aceh
Bantenese 4.113 2.05 Banten
Banjarese 3.496 1.74 South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan
Balinese 3.028 1.51 Bali
Chinese Indonesian 2.832 1.20 North Sumatra, Riau, Riau Islands, West Kalimantan, Jakarta, Bangka–Belitung Islands
Sasak 2.611 1.17 West Nusa Tenggara
Makassarese 1.982 0.99 South Sulawesi
Minahasan 1.900 0.96 North Sulawesi, Gorontalo
Cirebonese 1.890 0.94 West Java, Central Java
Map showing ethnic groups native to Indonesia. Ethnic groups of foreign origin such as Chinese, Arabs and Indians are not shown, but usually inhabit urban areas.

Indigenous ethnic groups[edit]

Best-fit genomic mixture proportions of Austronesians in Island Southeast Asia and their inferred population movements

Some ethnic groups are indigenous to certain regions of Indonesia. Due to migration within Indonesia (as part of government transmigration programs or otherwise), significant proportions of those ethnic groups reside outside of their traditional regions.

Foreign ethnicities[edit]

Throughout Indonesian history, various ethnic groups of foreign origin spread throughout Indonesia in several migration waves, and usually established themselves in urban centres, seldom settling rural parts of the country.

  • Chinese: The most significant ethnic minority of foreign origin in Indonesia, officially amounting to around 2,8 million, with other sources estimating them at anywhere between 8 to 12 million. Chinese people began migrating to Indonesia in the 15th century, with significant waves in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are mostly concentrated in pecinan (chinatowns) in urban Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan, with significant numbers in Jakarta, Surabaya, Tangerang, North Sumatra, Riau, Riau Islands, Bangka-Belitung Islands, and West Kalimantan.
  • Arabs: Historically, Arab traders were responsible for the spread of Islam in the Indonesian archipelago. Many have assimilated into local ethnicities such as the Betawi, Malay, Javanese, and Sundanese; however, several cities in Indonesia have significant Arab populations that preserve their culture, identity, and their links to Arab countries. They are spread throughout Indonesian cities, and significant numbers can be found in Palembang, Banda Aceh, Padang, Jakarta, Surabaya, Gresik and many coastal cities.
  • Indians: Indians also settled the Indonesian archipelago; however, they are not as numerous as Chinese Indonesians. They are mostly concentrated in urban centres, with significant numbers around Pasar Baru in Jakarta, and the most well-known at Kampung Madras in Medan. Almost 80% of all Indian Indonesians are living in the province of North Sumatra.
  • Indos: Indos or Eurasians are people of mixed native Indonesian and Dutch/European ancestry. They emerged in the Dutch East Indies colonial era. Today, around one million Indonesians with varying degrees of mixed ancestry can trace their ancestors to Europeans. During the colonial period, they were greater in numbers, but following Indonesian independence, most of them decided to leave to the Netherlands. Nowadays, Indos live mostly in Jakarta, many of them having dual citizenship. As of 2011, an estimated 124,000 Indos live outside the Netherlands (including Indonesia).[5]
  • Mardijkers: Their name means "freeman" and derives from the Dutch pronunciation of the Malay word "merdeka", which means "free". The ancestors of the Mardijkers were enslaved by the Portuguese in India, Africa and the Malay Peninsula. They were brought to Indonesia by the Dutch East India Company and freed after being settled there. Over long periods of time, they gradually assimilated into the larger Indonesian community, though a neighborhood, Kampung Tugu, still exists in the capital city today and retains its own distinct culture characteristic of the Mardijker people.
  • Japanese: Japanese people migrated to Indonesia in the Dutch East Indies colonial era; however, following the defeat of Japan in World War II, their percentage decreased, with only small numbers of ex-Japanese soldiers remaining in Indonesia and becoming Indonesian citizens. The recent increase of Japanese residents in Indonesia has been driven by the increase of Japanese business and investments in the country since the 1970s, with most of those residents being expatriates who retain their Japanese citizenship. They live mostly in Jakarta and Bali.
  • Korean: Koreans are a recent addition to ethnicities of foreign origin in Indonesia. They arrived in the country only several decades ago, mainly driven by the increase of Korean business and investments in Indonesia, and most of them are expatriates who retain their Korean citizenship.
  • Pakistanis: Hundreds of Pakistanis, mainly of Punjabi origin, work in various textile and rice production industries in the country. The Overseas Pakistanis Foundation estimated in 2004 that there could be as many as 400[6], although numbers have since grown; roughly 100 Pakistani families reside in Jakarta and another 300 in other cities. Additionally, there are many second- and third-generation descendants of Pakistani soldiers who went to Indonesia in 1945 as part of the British Indian Army to fight alongside the Indonesian military against the Axis forces and the Japanese.[7]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Ethnic classification follows the New Classification presented in Ananta et al. 2015, based on raw data from the 2010 census.


  1. ^ "Mengulik Data Suku di Indonesia". Badan Pusat Statistik. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Suryadinata, Leo; Arifin, Evi Nurvidya; Ananta, Aris (2003). Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 9789812302120.
  3. ^ Ananta et al. 2015, pp. 119–122.
  4. ^ Leo Suryadinata, Evi Nurvidya Arifin, Aris Ananta; Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape, 2003
  5. ^ Beets, Gijs; van Imhoff, Evert (2004). "A Demographic History of The Indo-Dutch Population, 1930–2001" (PDF). Journal of Population Research. 21 (1): 47–72. doi:10.1007/BF03032210. S2CID 53645470.
  6. ^ Overseas Pakistanis Foundation - 2004 Yearbook Archived 2010-05-24 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ My Jakarta: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Ali Baz Archived 2012-05-03 at the Wayback Machine - The Jakarta Globe