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Hatta Rajasa
Hamzah Haz
Hang Tuah
Titi Kamal
Tantowi Yahya
Mahmud Badaruddin II
Total population
c. 27.8 million
Regions with significant populations
Majority populations
 Indonesia± 11,500,000 (2010 estimate)[1][note 1]
 Brunei261,902 (2010 estimate)[2]
 Malaysia14,749,378(2010 estimate)[dubious ][3][note 2]
 Thailand3,354,475 (2010 estimate)[5][6]
653,449 (2010 estimate)[7][8]
Malay, Indonesian, Thai, Filipino, English
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Minangkabau, Cham, Cocos Malay

The Malays (Malay-Indonesian: Melayu; Filipino: Malayo; Rejang: ꤷꥁꤼ; Jawi: ملايو) are an Austronesian ethnic group in Southeast Asia. They mainly live in the Maritime Southeast Asia region (especially within the Malay Archipelago; consist of Indonesian Archipelago and Philippines archipelago), such as Sumatra, Riau Islands, Singapore, Kalimantan[note 3] (including Brunei), southern Thailand, and southern Philippines.

Overview[change | change source]

Malay people were once a tribal group who inhabited the island of Sumatra. According to the Malay Annals, the origin of Malay people are from the area known as Palembang in modern-day South Sumatra.

... Here now is the story of a city called Palembang in the land of Andalas.[note 4] It was ruled by Demang Lebar Daun, a descendant of Raja Shulan, and its river was the Muara Tatang. In the upper reaches of the Muara Tatang was a river called Melayu, and on that river was a hill called Siguntang Mahameru[note 5] ...

Sang Sapurba also mentioned in the Malay Annals as the King of Malays who originated from the hill of Siguntang Mahameru[note 6] area as well.

The expansion map of the Sriwijaya empire, starting in Palembang in the 7th century, then spreading to most of Sumatra, then expanding to areas of Java, Riau Islands, Bangka Belitung Islands, Singapore, Malacca Peninsula (a.k.a. Kra Peninsula), Thailand, Cambodia, South Vietnam, Kalimantan, until it ended as the Malay Kingdom of Dharmasraya in Jambi in the 14th century.

Malay people transformed from the tribal group into an ethnic group during the glorious era of Srivijaya—the empire that originated from Palembang— when the trading activities grew. Nowadays, Malay people are inhabiting areas that was under the Srivijayan empire rule, with the big population mainly in Sumatra and its surrounding regions such as Bangka Belitung Islands, Riau Islands, Malacca Peninsula (a.k.a. Kra Peninsula), Kalimantan[note 7] (including Brunei), southern Thailand, southern Vietnam, and southern Philippines.

Language[change | change source]

Most ethnic Malays speak one or more of the many dialects (versions) of the Malay language, a language of the Austronesian family of languages. In Indonesia, the standardized form of Malay is Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia),These naming policies were created to form national unities in the countries instead of making the Malays a ruling influence or the ruling class. In Malaysia, the standard form is called bahasa melayu (Bahasa Melayu. About 80% of their words mean the same thing in either dialect. same like in Brunei. In Brunei, Thailand and Singapore it is also known as Bahasa Melayu.

Today, the language is usually written a version of the Roman alphabet, called Rumi. Malay written using the Arabic alphabet is called Jawi, which is mostly used in official and religious contexts. Jawi is more common than Rumi in very conservative Muslim areas like Kelantan in Malaysia and Pattani in Thailand.

Religion[change | change source]

The vast majority of ethnic Malays today are Sunni Muslims and Islam has become a large part of the Malay identity.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Hasil Sensus Penduduk 2010 Data Agregat per Provinsi" (PDF) (in Indonesian). Badan Pusat Statistika. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-13. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  2. "CIA – The World Factbook – Brunei". Archived from the original on 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  3. "EPU – Population by sex, ethnic group and age, Malaysia,2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  4. Timothy P. Barnard, ed. (2003). Contesting Malayness: Malay Identity Across Boundaries. Singapore University Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-9971692797.
  5. CIA – World Factbook – Thailand
  6. World Directory of Minorities – Malays
  7. CIA – World Factbook – Singapore
  8. Singapore: Population Size and Growth
  1. Figure obtained based on the percentage of Malays in 2000 census and the total Indonesian population in 2010 census
  2. the 'Malay' population in Malaysia is dubious and can't be used in global perspective because what is considered as 'Malay people' according to the Article 160 of the Malaysian Constitution is 'people who professes the religion of Islam', this causing a confusion in the data; which the Javanese, Boyanese, Bugis, Minangkabau, Acehnese also classified as as a single identity of 'Malay', while in fact they are not Malay ethnically.[4]
  3. Kalimantan is the native name of Borneo island
  4. Andalas is one of the ancient names of Sumatra island; along with Svarnadvipa and Bhumi Melayu.
  5. Siguntang Mahameru is known as Bukit Siguntang nowadays in South Sumatra
  6. Siguntang Mahameru is known as Bukit Siguntang nowadays in South Sumatra
  7. Kalimantan is the native or indigineous name for the Borneo island