Indonesia Cultural Groups

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As early as the 1st century the population was estimated at 2 million people in this rich tropical environment. The population of Indonesia in 1900 was 38 million inhabitants. By 1950 it had reached 77 million. The latest count at the end of 1995 showed it had 195.3 million inhabitants. Major ethnic groups include Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese and Malay. Numerous smaller groups also inhabit the islands. According to the 2010 census people from over 30 ethnic groups are represented. The largest group is Javanese, with over 95 million people comprising 40% of the total population.

Religious affiliation consists of 87% Muslims, 6.5% Protestant Christians, 3% Catholic Christians, 2% Hindus, 1% Buddhists and 0.5% others.

Chinese (Orang Indonesia keturunan Tionghoa)[edit | edit source]

The Chinese are Indonesia's most important ethnic minority and largest alien group. Although they comprise only about 2 percent (5 million) of Indonesia's total population, the Chinese control about 75 percent of the country's private domestic capital. Contacts were recorded between China and Western Java as early as the 5th century, and Chinese Muslims played a role in converting Java to the Muslim religion in the 15th century.

Resented and envied, the Chinese have been traditionally ostracized from the mainstream of Indonesian society, and periodic purges have been perpetrated against them. Indonesia and Korea are the only countries in Asia that base nationality entirely on paternal lineage.

Chinese community records (Dokumen persamaan Cina)[edit | edit source]

This record type includes family histories, compiled genealogies, vital data, memorabilia, immigration, name adoption, Chinese temples and associations data. These records can be used to identify the family place of origin, and often give the name in the original Chinese characters rather than a modified style. These records may give birth, marriage and death information, ancestral tablets, genealogies, family origin data, relatives, memberships. May include census and immigration data. The records exist from the 1700s, but contain information that extends the family line before that date. Records can be found with heirs of Chinese community kapitans, Chinese associations, University of Indonesia.

Registers of adoption of Indonesian names (Daftar pengakuan nama Indonesia)[edit | edit source]

These records document the assignment of Indonesian names for Chinese and other minorities. They are valuable in locating original names of Chinese immigrants, adoptive children. They contain the person's original name (often in Chinese characters), their new name, and the date the name was changed. These records date from the 1700s to the present. They can be found at local courts and civil registry offices, Chinese community kapitans.

Arabs[edit | edit source]

Indian[edit | edit source]

Indos[edit | edit source]

This group is comprised of persons of mixed ancestry from European (mainly Dutch) and native Indonesian ethnic groups. Many persons in this group chose to emigrate after Indonesian independence in 1945.

  • IndoProject Bridging the gap in Dutch-Indonesian genealogy

Japanese[edit | edit source]

Mardijker[edit | edit source]

Peranakans or Peranakan Chinese[edit | edit source]

Peranakans are an ethnic group of Chinese settlers originating from the southern provinces of China and settling in Malay archipelago - now encompassing Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and southern Thailand. The Peranakans are descendants of some of the earliest Chinese settlers and have many unique cultural customs and traditions that are a mixture of ancient China and the Nusantara region.[1]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Peranakan," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 31 March 2020.