Gorontaloan people

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Gorontalo people
Gorontalese / Hulondalo / Hulonthalo / Hulontalo
COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Een Alfur vrouw uit Gorontalo Noord-Celebes TMnr 10005743.jpg
A Gorontalo woman, 1913.
Total population
1,800,494 (2014 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Gorontalo 934,731
Central Sulawesi 474,016
North Sulawesi 168,025
Related ethnic groups

Gorontaloan or Hulandalo people are the native people of the northern part of Sulawesi. They are the most populous ethnicity in the Minahasa Peninsula. The Gorontaloans are predominantly Muslim.[2] Their native language is Gorontaloan. The Gorontaloans have traditionally been concentrated in the provinces of Gorontalo, North Sulawesi, and the northern part of Central Sulawesi.


A group of men from Gorontalo in a prahu, circa 1895-1905.

The name Gorontalo probably derives from much terms, such as:[3]

  • Hulontalangio, the name of a tribe who lives in an area
  • Hua Lolontalango, means a cave used for two-way travel
  • Hulutalangi, means noble
  • Huluo lo Tola, means a place where snakehead fish reproduces
  • Pongolatalo or Pohulatalo, means a waiting place
  • Gunung Telu, means the third mountain
  • Hunto, means a place always flowed with water

Gorontaloans sometime refer themselves as Hulandalo or Hulantalo, a well-known term in Gorontalo and North Sulawesi, which usually refer to the region of Gorontalo or the native people from Gorontalo.

The Gorontaloan people also have a family kinship system called Pohala'a. This system is a heritage of the kingdoms that had previously established in Gorontalo. There are five pohala'a in Gorontalo, namely Gorontalo, Limboto, Suwawa, Bualemo and Atinggola; where the Gorontalo pohala'a is the most prominent among the pohala'as.[4][5]


A circumcision event of the Gorontalo people during the Dutch East Indies.

Linguistically, Gorontaloan people share the same origins with other Austronesian people of the Philippine Islands and North Sulawesi islands.[6] According to legend, the first Gorontaloan kingdom emerged at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. By 1525, when the Portuguese arrived at North Sulawesi, Islam had already been widely spread among them; with the Gorontaloan lands divided between the Muslim states of Gorontalo, Limboto, Suwawa, Boalemo and Atinggola.[7] There were military-political alliance, which by the end of the 19th century they were fully colonized by the Dutch East Indies. In 1950 Gorontalo as a part of State of East Indonesia rejoined Indonesia. In 2001, the regency of Gorontalo was formed as a separate province from North Sulawesi.


Gorontaloan language is a member of Austronesian languages. In present times, Gorontaloans used Latin alphabet for writing. However, the usage of Gorontaloan is limited to everyday living. In schools for education, the media, and official documents, the Indonesian language used as the national language.


The main traditional occupation of the Gorontaloan people has long been agriculture. Gorontaloans plays an important part in forestry, agriculture and fishery industries. Crafting and livestock farms are secondary means of income.

The main type of Gorontaloan settlement are the villages. The traditional house is called Dulohupa,[8] consists of a frame structure built on stilts. The house is then divided into several rooms. By the entrance are two staircases. Traditional attires are multicolored, with each of the colors represent its symbolic aspect.

In the past, there were large extensions of extended family who could carry out joint agricultural farming in mountainous region that requires a lot of soil cultivating work. The elderly father and mother are regarded as the main hosts, which is reflected in the Gorontalo language.[9] It has not adopted a variety of intimate forms of addressing to parents and older relatives.

Gorontaloan people are also famous for their developed musical culture.[10] During the end of Ramadan, the people conducted Tombbilotohe; a cultural celebration with oil lamps,[11] which is lit around mosques and settlements.


  1. ^ Kewarganegaraan, Suku Bangsa, Agama dan Bahasa Sehari-hari Penduduk Indonesia - Hasil Sensus Penduduk 2010. Badan Pusat Statistik. 2011. ISBN 9789790644175. 
  2. ^ Harry Aveling & Damien Kingsbury (2014). Autonomy and Disintegration in Indonesia. Routledge. ISBN 1-1364-9809-5. 
  3. ^ BPS Provinsi Gorontalo; BAPPEDA Provinsi Gorontalo (2012). Gorontalo Dalam Angka 2012: Gorontalo in Figures 2012. Pemerintah Provinsi Gorontalo. 
  4. ^ Anna Fauziah Diponegoro (2007). Harta bumi Indonesia: biografi J.A. Katili. Grasindo. ISBN 97-975-9815-2. 
  5. ^ Fachrudin Zain Olilingo (2017). Potensi Investasi di Provinsi Gorontalo. Deepublish. p. 1. ISBN 60-245-3547-3. 
  6. ^ "Gorontalic". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  7. ^ "Gorontalo". Indonesia's Official Tourism Website. Archived from the original on 15 August 2015. Retrieved 2018-03-26. 
  8. ^ "Dulohupa, Gorontalo Traditional House". Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  9. ^ Karmin Baruadi (2013). "Appellation in Gorontalese: An Antropolinguistics Approach towards Language and Culture in Gorontalo, Indonesia". International Knowledge Sharing Platform, Research on Humanities and Social Sciences Vol.3, No.16. ISSN 2222-1719. Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  10. ^ Sri Febriyanti Kaharu (26 March 2009). "The culture of Gorontalo". viraqu. Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
  11. ^ Nasrul Umam (June 2011). "Tombbilotohe culture (pairs of lights) in Gorontalo". Indonesian Culture. Retrieved 2018-03-27. 
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