Bugis of Indonesia

Population: 5 million
Primary Location: Sulawesi, Indonesia
Languages: Bugis, Bahasa Indonesia


Who are the Bugis?

The Bugis, also known as the Buginese, To Bugi and To Ugi, are the dominant ethnic group in southwestern Sulawesi, Indonesia.


The Bugis have long been known as fearless sailors. Often likened to the Vikings, the ancient Bugis established trade routes throughout Indonesia and conquered numerous small states. At one time, the appearance of an elegant Bugis schooner offshore would strike fear into coastal communities. During the Dutch colonial era, the Bugis gained a reputation as smugglers and pirates.

The Bugis have enjoyed literature for centuries. Their great 5-part epic, La Galigo, records myths of the origins of humankind.


Despite their seafaring history, the Bugis economy is overwhelmingly agricultural. Most Bugis farm rice or cacao in Sulawesi's fertile soil. Sulawesi rice is eaten throughout eastern Indonesia and much cacao is exported. Other Bugis products include coconuts, coffee, cloves, copra and timber.

For three centuries the Bugis have dominated inter-island trade, taking their surplus rice, dried fish and livestock to the surrounding food-deficient provinces. Some men remain at sea for as long as a year, returning home only long enough to clean their boats and restock. Women generally manage the home and harvest the rice. Some women have also become skilled traders and professionals.


Almost all Bugis adhere to Islam. Offerings to ancestor spirits and spirits associated with houses, objects and sacred sites are not uncommon.

Prayer Points

  • Thank God for leading many Bugis to follow Jesus between 1930-1950. Pray that the descendants of the first believers would live holy lives and show God's love to their Muslim neighbors and relatives.

  • Thank God for sending a growing number of Indonesian followers of Jesus to live among the Bugis. Pray that they would find jobs in Bugis communities, and develop culturally sensitive ways of sharing the Good News.

  • Pray that merchants of Chinese descent would model lifestyles of love and forgiveness to their Bugis employees and customers.

  • Pray that the Bugis who follow Jesus would form house fellowships to worship God and study the Scriptures together.

  • Pray for linguists to revise the Bugis Bible translation and prepare other literature in the Bugis language.

Read the full profile

Bugis of Indonesia

Learn more about the Bugis

(External links)

Joshua Project People Profile
Lontara Script
Bugis Language