Native Indonesians

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Pribumi Indonesia
Indonesians wearing their indigenous costume during cultural carnaval
Total population
More than 300 million
Including Indonesian ancestry
c. 270 million
Indonesia 2020 census[1]
c. 210 million
Worldwide; 2006 estimate[2]
Regions with significant populations
 Indonesia c. 270 million[2]
National Language
Regional Language
Javanese, Sundanese, Malay, Madurese, Minangkabau, Betawi, Batak, Balinese, etc.
Islam (mostly Sunni, minority Shia, and Non-denominational)
Christianity (Protestantism, Catholicism and Orthodoxy), Hinduism, Buddhism, Animism, Shamanism, Sunda Wiwitan, Kaharingan, Parmalim, Kejawen, Aluk To Dolo, Others.
Related ethnic groups

Native Indonesians, also known as Pribumi or Bumiputra (lit.'first on the soil'), are Indonesians whose ancestral roots lie mainly in the archipelago, distinguished from Indonesians of known (partial) foreign descent, like Chinese Indonesians (Tionghoa), Arab Indonesians, Indian Indonesians, Japanese Indonesians and Indo-Europeans (Eurasians).

Etymology and historical context[edit]

The term pribumi was popularized after Indonesian independence as a respectful replacement for the Dutch colonial term inlander (normally translated as "native" and seen as derogatory).[3] It derives from Sanskrit terms pri (before) and bhumi (earth). Before independence, the term bumiputra (Malay: son of the soil) was more commonly used as an equivalent term to pribumi.

Following independence, the term was normally used to distinguish indigenous Indonesians from citizens of foreign descent (especially Chinese Indonesians). Common usage distinguished between pribumi and non-pribumi.[4] Although the term is sometimes translated as "indigenous", it has a broader meaning than that associated with Indigenous peoples.

The term WNI keturunan asing (WNI = "Indonesian citizen", keturunan asing = foreign descent), sometimes just WNI keturunan or even WNI, has also been used to designate non-pribumi Indonesians.[5]

In practice, the usage of the term is fluid. Pribumi is seldom used to refer to Indonesians of Melanesian descent, such as Moluccans and Papuans, although it does not exclude them. Indonesians of Arab descent sometimes refer to themselves as pribumi. Indonesians with some exogenous ancestry who show no obvious signs of identification with that ancestry (such as former President Abdurrahman Wahid who is said to have had Chinese ancestry) are seldom called non-pribumi. The term bumiputra is sometimes used in Indonesia with the same meaning as pribumi but is more commonly used in Malaysia, where it has a slightly different meaning.[6]

The term putra daerah ("son of the region") refers to a person who is indigenous to a specific locality or region.

In 1998, the Indonesian government of President B. J. Habibie instructed that neither pribumi nor non-pribumi should be used because they promoted ethnic discrimination.[7][8]

The Dutch East India Company, which dominated parts of the archipelago from the 17th century, classified its subjects mainly by religion, rather than ethnicity. The colonial administration which took power in 1815 shifted to a system of ethnic classification. Initially, they distinguished between Europeans (Europeanen) and those equated with them (including native Christians) and Inlanders and those equated with them (including non-Christian Asians).

Over time, natives were gradually shifted de facto into the Inlander category, while Chinese Indonesians, Arab Indonesians, and others of non-Indonesian descent were gradually given separate status as Vreemde Oosterlingen ("Foreign Orientals"). The system was patriarchal, rather than formally racial. A child inherited his/her father's ethnicity if the parents were married; and the mother's ethnicity if they were unmarried. The offspring of a marriage between a European man and an Indonesian woman were legally European.

Today, the Indonesian dictionary defines pribumi as penghuni asli which translates into "original, native, or indigenous inhabitant".[9]


Asmat woodcarver

Pribumi make up about 95% of the Indonesian population.[2] 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 circumstances.

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[10]

There are over 1,300 ethnic groups in Indonesia,[11]

The largest ethnic group in Indonesia is the Javanese people 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.[12] The Sundanese, Malay, Batak, and Madurese are the next largest groups in the country.[12] Many ethnic groups, particularly in Kalimantan and the province of Papua, have only hundreds of members. Most of the local languages belong to the Austronesian language family, although a significant number, particularly in North Maluku, Timor, Alor, and West Papua, speak Papuan languages.

The division and classification of ethnic groups in Indonesia are not rigid and in some cases are unclear as the result of migrations, along with cultural and linguistic influences; for example, some[who?] may agree that the Bantenese and Cirebonese belong to different ethnic groups with their distinct dialect, however others[who?] might consider them to be Javanese sub-ethnicities, as members of the larger Javanese people. The same considerations may apply to the Baduy people who share so many similarities with the Sundanese people that they can be considered as belonging to the same ethnic group. The clearest example of hybrid ethnicity is the Betawi people, the result of a mixture of different native ethnicities that have merged with people of Arab, Chinese, and Indian origins since the era of colonial Batavia (Jakarta), as well as the population of Larantuka known as Topasses who were of mixed descent from the Malaccan Malays, the Lamaholot, and Portuguese.

Several major ethnolinguistic groups of Indonesia

The proportional populations of Native Indonesians according to the 2010 census is as follows:

Ethnic groups Population (million) Percentage Main regions
Javanese 95.217[13] 40.2[13] Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, Lampung, Jakarta[13]
Sundanese 31.765 15.4 West Java, Banten, Lampung
Malay 8.789 4.1 Sumatra eastern coast, West Kalimantan
Batak 8.467 3.58 North Sumatra
Madurese 7 .179 3.03 Madura island, East Java
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
Dayak 3.009 1.5 North Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan
Sasak 3.000 1.4 West Nusa Tenggara
Makassarese 2.063 1.0 South Sulawesi
Cirebonese 1.856 0.9 West Java, Central Java

Smaller groups[edit]

Torajan girls
Balinese boys

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.

See also[edit]

Non-Pribumi Indonesians[edit]


  1. ^ "Hasil Sensus Penduduk 2020" (PDF) (in Indonesian). Statistics Indonesia. December 15, 2022. p. 9. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Pribumi". Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Macmillan Reference USA. Archived from the original on July 11, 2007. Retrieved October 5, 2006.
  3. ^ William H. Frederick and Robert L. Worden, Indonesia: A Country Study (Washington: Library of Congress, 6th ed., 2011), p. 409.
  4. ^ Kwik Kian Gie, in Leo Suryadinata, Political Thinking of the Indonesian Chinese, 1900-1995: A Sourcebook (Singapore University Press, 2nd ed., 1977), p.135.
  5. ^ James T. Siegel, "Early Thoughts on the Violence of May 13 and 14, 1998 in Jakarta", Indonesia 66 (Oct. 1998), p. 90 (pp. 74–108).
  6. ^ Sharon Siddique and Leo Suryadinata, "Bumiputra and Pribumi: Economic Nationalism (Indiginism) in Malaysia and Indonesia", Pacific Affairs, Vol. 54, No. 4 (Winter 1981–1982), pp. 662–687.
  7. ^ Purdey, Jemma (2006). Anti-Chinese Violence in Indonesia, 1996–1999. Singapore: Singapore University Press. p. 179. ISBN 9971-69-332-1.
  8. ^ Hasanah, Sovia (October 17, 2017). "Dasar Hukum yang Melarang Penggunaan Istilah "Pribumi"" [Law that based ban of "Pribumi" term]. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  9. ^ "Pribumi". KBBI (in Indonesian).
  10. ^ The Library of Congress, Federal Research Division. "Glossary—Indonesia". A Country Study: Indonesia. Retrieved October 4, 2006.
  11. ^ "Mengulik Data Suku di Indonesia". Badan Pusat Statistik. November 18, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 2003.
  13. ^ a b c "Sebaran Suku Jawa Di Indonesia". May 18, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.