Betawi of Indonesia

Population: 5 million
Primary Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Languages: Betawi, Bahasa Indonesia


Who are the Betawi?

The Betawi people live on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia's sprawling capital city. The Betawi are considered the original inhabitants of Jakarta. Betawi ancestry is a mixture of Portuguese, Indian, Arab, Javanese, Sunda and Balinese, among others. Since the 16th century, these groups have intermingled in the Jakarta area. In addition to intermarrying, they also developed a unique form of the Malay language in order to communicate.


Urban Betawi often work as merchants, laborers, craftspeople, office staff or government officers. Betawi outside the city are largely involved in agriculture. Many cultivate rice or fruit. Some own fish farms. As Jakarta, a megacity of over 14 million people, grows, the Betawi are increasingly under pressure. Agricultural land has been sold for housing developments and industrial complexes, forcing many Betawi farmers to look for new occupations.


Betawi arts include the topeng, a mask dance, wayang golek, a traditional puppet show and teater lenong, a form of comedic drama. While Betawi arts were fairly popular until the late 1970s, interest has since dwindled. Non-profits and charitable organizations are now making deliberate attempts to preserve traditional Betawi art forms.




Most Betawi people are Muslim. Many faithfully practice Islam, praying five times a day and fasting in the month of Ramadan. Even those who are less diligent still find a strong identity in Islam. All Betawi use the Islamic greeting "Assalamualaikum" when they meet.

Prayer Points

  • Pray that Betawi farmers who have been forced to give up their land would find new ways to support themselves.

  • Pray for followers of Jesus to find ways to become part of Betawi communities and to share the Good News.

  • Pray that the Betawi would be open to hearing about God's love.

  • Pray for Betawi followers of Jesus that they would grow in their faith and that they would have the courage to reach out to their own people group and beyond.

  • Pray for literature to be developed in each of the main Betawi subdialects. Pray that followers of Jesus would find creative ways to help the Betawi make use of these resources.

Read the full profile

Betawi of Indonesia

Learn more about the Betawi

(External links)

Joshua Project People Profile
Peoples and Cultures of Jakarta
Jakarta's Betawi Fair
Betawi Language (Jakarta Post, June 2008)
Betawi Language (Ethnologue)