Regions with significant populations
Indonesia Indonesia 5,157,000 [1]
Malaysia Malaysia 728,465
Singapore Singapore 15,374

Buginese, Indonesian, Malay


Predominantly Islam, some practicing Animism and Christianity

Related ethnic groups

Malays, other Austronesian groups

The Bugis people are an Austronesian ethnic group mainly living in Sulawesi, Indonesia their native homeland and populations in Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia, Bugis people are considered part of the Malay pan-ethnic group (the Malay Bumiputra), while they are considered a distinct Austronesian ethnic group in Indonesia. Bugis people have contributed to both the politics of Indonesia and Malaysia. Their main language is the Buginese language.


Bugis people are native to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Specifically, Bugis people live near Lake Sidenreng in Sulawesi. Linguists suggest that Bugis, like Malays and Javanese originated from a group of Austronesian speakers in Taiwan who travelled south and reached the Indonesian archipelago. Indonesians in general have experienced a very rich history as the archipelago was home to Hindu and Buddhist empires. In the west, the Malays had the Srivijaya Empire and the Javanese had the Majapahit Empire. South Sulawesi was ruled by an empire known as Macassar.[2]The ancient Bugis were a group of very skilled seafarers and like most of the region's other indigenous groups, ancient Bugis were Sanskrit-speaking Hindus and Animists. Around the seventeenth century, Muslim missionaries converted most of the Bugis to the Islamic religion. The Portuguese Empire tried to convert the Bugis to Roman Catholicism and failed. In 1667, Indonesian was conquered by the Dutch and British Empires. Due to wars and civil wars, many Bugis left Sulawesi and settled the central Malay Archipelago, places like modern-day Malaysia and Singapore. By this time, the Bugis people still followed Buddhism, Hinduism and Animism. It is not until the seventeenth century that Bugis were converted to Islam. In modern-day matters, Bugis people have contributed to a big part in Indonesia and Malaysia's political matters. Many of Indonesia's politicians are Bugis and Javanese. Malaysia's current prime minister, Najib Razak is a Bugi.


The three languages spoken by Bugis people are Malay, Buginese and Indonesian. The Buginese language is the main language spoken by this ethnic group. The Buginese language is also called Basa Ugi. The Buginese language is part of the Austronesian family of languages. Whether Bugis people speak Indonesian or Malay as a second language depends on the country. In Indonesia, the Bugis people learn and speak Bahasa Indonesia, since that is the unifying lingua franca of Indonesia. Other than Indonesian, Malay as "Malay" or "Melayu" is Indonesia's second most-spoken local language. Bugis people in Indonesia speak a version of Malay known as Makassarese Malay. This version of Malay is native to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. This is also why Bugis people are considered ethnic Malays in Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia and Singapore, Bugis people speak Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Malaysia, both registers of standard Malay alongside Buginese and Makassarese Malay. The Bugis people are closely related to the Toraja and Makassarese people.


Most Bugis people are Muslims. Historically they were Hindus, Buddhists and Animists. Only in the seventeenth century did Muslim missionaries come and convert to the Bugis population to the Islamic religion. The Portuguese spread Christianity in the area, and did manage to convert a number of rulers to Christianity although more Muslim missionaries, mostly Minangkabau missionaries converted the entire population to Islam. Some Bugis people are still Animists. Even though most Bugis are Muslims, they still retain their original Hindu and Animist-based culture, specifically for the majority of the Bugis who live in Indonesia who follow Folk Islam. The Bugis in Malaysia and Singapore mostly follow Malay culture.

Art and Architecture

The Bugis style architecture is of Austronesian stock and shares some affinity with Malay, Javanese, Makassarese and Taroja architecture. Like many of the indigenous structures found throughout the Malay Archipelago, Bugis architecture is many times called kampongs. This is a Malay and Indonesian word literally meaning village. Bugis, Makassarese and Taroja people share a very similar type of architecture that shares a resemblance with Malay architecture. Like Malay-style kampongs, Bugis kampongs are built on stilts to resist tidal waves and flooding.


Main Article: Makassar Cuisine at

Bugis people live in the Malay Archipelago, so most of their cuisine is based on Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. Since Bugis people are extremely skilled seafarers and fishers, fish and seafoods dominate much of Bugis cuisine. Most Bugis are Muslims, so pork or alcohol is almost never part of Bugis style cuisine. In case of the Bugis living in Malaysia and Singapore, their cuisine is Malay-style cuisine. Makassar has several famous traditional foods. The most famous is Coto Makassar. It is a stew made from the mixture of nuts and spices with beef parts which include beef brain, tongue and intestine. Konro rib dish is also popular traditional food in Makassar. Both Coto Makassar and Konro are usually eaten with Burasa, a glutinous rice with coconut milk and sauted coconut granule.

In addition, Makassar is the home of Pisang Epe (pressed banana), as well as Pisang Ijo (green banana). Pisang Epe is a banana which is pressed, grilled, and covered with palm sugar sauce and sometimes eaten with Durian. Many street vendors sell Pisang Epe, especially around the area of Losari beach. Pisang Ijo is a banana covered with green colored flours, coconut milk, and syrup. Pisang Ijo is sometimes served iced, and often eaten on Ramadan.

Notable Bugis Or People of Bugi Descent

Abu-Bakar of Johor

Abu Bakar
First Sultan of Johor, considered the father and foudner of the modern-day Johor Sultanate, of Malay-Bugi descent

Najib Razak

Najib Razak
Current prime minister of Malaysia, belongs to the Bugis ethnic group but considered an ethnic Malay under Malaysia's constitution

B.J. Habibie

B.J Habibi
Indonesian president from 1998-1999 following the resignation of President Suharto, led the shortest presidency after Indonesian independance

Jusuf Kalla

Jusuf Kalla
An Indonesian politician, the tenth Vice President of Indonesia under the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and is the current chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross Society and is likely to be a presidential candidate in the 2014 Indonesian elections, although he himself has not solidified this possibility

Lisa Surihani


A Malaysian actress who has appeared in films such as Goodbye Boys and Sekali Lagi and won the Best Actress award at the 23rd Malaysian Film Festival

Ziana Zain

Ziana Zain
A Malaysian pop-singer, songwriter, model, entrepeneur and actress who is popular for her songs such as Madah Berhelah, Anggapanmu, Setia Ku Di Sini and Puncak Kasih and internationally crowned the Voice of Asia in Kazakhstan in 1995


  1. Leo Suryadinata; Evi Nurvidya Arifin; Aris Ananta. (2003). Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 981-230-212-3.