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Malay Indonesians (Malay: orang Melayu Indonesia; Jawi: اورڠ ملايو ايندونيسيا) are ethnic Malays living throughout Indonesia as one of the indigenous peoples of the island nation. Indonesia has the second largest ethnic Malay population after Malaysia. Indonesian, the national language of Indonesia, is a standardized form of Malacca ("Riau") Malay. There were a number of Malay kingdoms in Indonesia that covered the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, such as Srivijaya, Melayu Kingdom, Sultanate of Deli, Sultanate of Siak Sri Indrapura, Riau-Lingga Sultanate, Sultanate of Bulungan, Pontianak Sultanate, and the Sultanate of Sambas.

Malay Indonesians
Melayu Indonesia

ملايو ايندونيسيا
About indonesian culture.jpg
A Riau Malay couple enjoying the traditional Gambus. The background panel incorporated the palettes of Malay tricolour.
Total population
5,365,399 (2010 estimate)[1]
Regions with significant populations
South Sumatra2,139,000
West Kalimantan1,259,890[2]
Riau Islands600,108
North Sumatra582,100
Central Kalimantan87,222
Malay (varieties of Malay, including Indonesian)
Sunni Islam (predominantly)
Related ethnic groups
Malaysian Malays, Malay Singaporeans, Minangkabau, Acehnese, Banjarese, Betawi, Thai Malays




There have been various Malay kingdoms based on the island of Sumatra: the Melayu Kingdom, Srivijaya, Sultanate of Deli, Sultanate of Siak Sri Indrapura and the Riau-Lingga Sultanate.


In the Pontianak incidents during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, the Japanese massacred most of the Malay elite and beheaded all of the Malay Sultans in Kalimantan.

During the Fall of Suharto, there was a resurgence in Malay nationalism and identity in Kalimantan and ethnic Malays and Dayaks in Sambas massacred Madurese during the Sambas riots.


A Palembangese Malay girl clad in the Gending Sriwijaya costume

Sumatra is the homeland of the Malay languages, which today spans all corners of Insular Southeast Asia. The Indonesian language, which is the country's official language and lingua franca, was based on Riau-Lingga (or Johor-Riau) Malay. The Malay language has a long history, which has a literary record as far back as the 7th century AD. A famous early Malay inscription, the Kedukan Bukit Inscription, was discovered by the Dutchman M. Batenburg on 29 November 1920, at Kedukan Bukit, South Sumatra, on the banks of the River Tatang, a tributary of the River Musi. It is a small stone of 45 by 80 cm. It is written in Old Malay, a possible ancestor of today's Malay language and its variants. Most Malay languages and dialects spoken in Indonesia are mutually unintelligible to Standard Indonesian. The most widely spoken are Palembang Malay (3.2 million), Jambi Malay (1 million), Bengkulu Malay (1.6 million) and Banjarese (4 million) (although not considered to be a dialect of Malay by its speakers; its minor dialect is typically called Bukit Malay). Besides the proper Malay languages, there are several languages closely related to Malay such as Minangkabau, Kerinci, Kubu and others. These languages are closely related to Malay, but their speakers do not consider their languages to be Malay. There are many Malay-based creoles spoken in the country especially in eastern Indonesia due to contacts from the western part of Indonesia and during colonial rule where Malay replaced Dutch as a lingua franca. The most well-known Malay creoles in Indonesia are Ambonese Malay, Betawi, Manado Malay and Papuan Malay.

Sub-ethnic groups of Indonesian MalaysEdit

Malay ethnic groups in IndonesiaEdit

A Palembangese Malay woman in the traditional wedding costume from South Sumatera, Indonesia, known as Aesan Gede

The Malay people in Indonesia fall into various sub-ethnicities with each having its own distinct linguistic variety, history, clothing, traditions, and a sense of common identity. According to 2000 census, Malay Indonesians include:

and various other smaller sub-groups.

Ethnic groups closely related to MalaysEdit

Besides Malays proper, there are various ethnic groups throughout Sumatra, Java and Borneo which share close cultural, linguistic and historical ties with Malays but are classified separately by the Indonesian census, these are;

A Kutainese Malay lady in Residency of South and East Kalimantan, Dutch East Indies. Lithography to an original watercolour c.1879–1880.

Notable Malay IndonesiansEdit



Malay princes of East Sumatra from the Royal Houses of Deli, Langkat and Serdang



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Kewarganegaraan, Suku Bangsa, Agama, Dan Bahasa Sehari-Hari Penduduk Indonesia". Badan Pusat Statistik. 2010. Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  2. ^ "Propinsi Kalimantan Barat - Dayakologi". Retrieved 2012-09-07.
  3. ^ Tedjasukmana, Jason (June 25, 2010). "Sex Video Scandal and Indonesia's Porn Obsession". TIME magazine. Retrieved 25 June 2010.

External linksEdit