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Title: Moluccans  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ethnic groups in Indonesia, Fayu people, Lani people, Dayak Mualang, Mek people
Collection: Ethnic Groups in Indonesia, Ethnic Groups in the Netherlands, Moluccan People
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Portrait of two men from Tifonis, North Maluku, Indonesia.
Regions with significant populations
Maluku Islands, Indonesia
Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages: Dawera-Daweloor language, Taliabo language
Christianity, Islam, Folk religion
Related ethnic groups
Melanesians, Papuan people

Moluccans refer to the original, indigenous inhabitants of the Maluku Islands, also called the Moluccas, which have been part of Indonesia since 1949. Moluccans are a blanket term for many ethnic and linguistic groups inhabiting the island groups.

Moluccans were originally Melanesian in origin.[1] However, a long history of trade and seafaring has resulted in a high degree of mixed blood ancestry among Moluccans.[2] Austronesian peoples added to the native Melanesian population around 2000 BCE.[3] Melanesian features are strongest in the islands of Kei and Aru and amongst the interior people of Seram and Buru islands. Later added to this Austronesian-Melanesian mix were Indian, Arab, Chinese, Portuguese and Dutch genes.

In addition to Indonesia, a large number of Moluccans have emigrated to the Netherlands since the 1950s.


  • History 1
  • Language 2
  • Religion 3
  • Notable people 4
  • References 5


After the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies during World War II, Netherlands wanted to restore the old colonial situation. The indigenous Indonesians were against it. However, led by rebels and Soekarno, a struggle for independence broke out between 1945 to 1949. The reconstituted Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) was commissioned by the Dutch government to maintain order and to disarm the rebels. Moluccan professional soldiers formed an important part of this army. The Moluccan community was thus regarded by the Dutch as allies and vice versa. The government of the Netherlands had promised them that they would get their own free state in return for assisting the Netherlands. After international efforts particularly the United States could not support the Netherlands to maintain its colony, the Dutch government could no longer keep its promise to the Moluccans for a free state. The Moluccans, who were seen by the Indonesians as collaborators, had to go to the Netherlands. Molucans who served in the command of KNIL would reside temporarily in the Netherlands. The Moluccans were then housed in camps in the Netherlands, including the former Westerbork transit camp.

The Dutch Moluccans had repeatedly drawn the attention of the Dutch government to their claim for a free Republic of South Maluku (Republik Maluku Selatan or RMS) state of which the Dutch government had promised earlier. In the seventies this escalated more and more. One of the methods to gain attention on this matter was through the violent hijackings of 1975 Dutch train hostage crisis in De Punt, Wijster where hostages were taken and the train hijackers were killed.


The Moluccans speak over a hundred different languages, with a majority of them belonging to the Central Malayo-Polynesian languages, especially the Central Moluccan languages. An important exception is the island of Halmahera and its surrounding islands, where the majority of the population of the West Papuan languages speaks. Another important exception is the Ambonese Malay or Ambonese language, one on the Malay-based creole language, mainly on Ambon Island and nearby Ceram is spoken. Particularly Ambonese of the Moluccans in the Netherlands also speak Buru language.


The Moluccans in the northern Moluccas (present province of North Maluku) are mainly Muslim and the Moluccans in the central and southern Moluccas (present day Maluku (province)) are mainly Christians.

The religions that are most often espoused by Moluccans in the Netherlands are the Protestant faith, and to a lesser extent Islam.

Notable people


  1. ^
  2. ^ Witton, Patrick (2003). Indonesia. Melbourne: Lonely Planet. p. 818.  
  3. ^ Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pp. 5–7.  
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