Sulawesi is a huge crab shaped island east of Borneo and Kalimantan, south of the Philippines, west of the Moluccas and north of Flores. Formerly known as Celebes, it is about the size of Nebraska and consists of four large peninsulas fringed by coral reefs and covered by large wildernesses areas with marshy coastal plains and jungle covered mountains in the interior. There are also smoking volcanos and large agricultural areas. Off the coast in some places are distinctive Sulawesi fishing platforms.

Sulawesi covers 202,000 square kilometers. It accounts for 10 percent of Indonesia's area and 7 percent of its population. Sulawesi has lost 90 percent of its rich lowland forests to logging and agriculture. Many of the highland forests are still in good condition. Most people tend to live on or near the coast. The interior is generally sparsely habited. The major ethnic grous in the south are the Bugis and the Makassarese. The Toradja occupy the southern highlands. A mosaic of other groups are scattered across the island.

The ancient Chinese made it do Sulawesi. Some people today make their living today by digging up the graves of Chinese mariners and unearthing porcelain from the 11th century Song and Ming dynasties worth thousands of dollars. The mariners were often interned together and grave robbers have found 11th century vases using steel rods to probe the soft mud where they were buried.

Two of the most famous products from Celebes were Makassar poison, which, according to 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys, was given by Englishmen to dogs in their gentlemen's clubs to watch them die, and Makassar oil, which men used to grease back their hair. It was once described as the greasiest of the "greasy kids stuff." [Source: "Ring of Fire" by Lawrence and Lorne Blair, Bantam Books, New York]

Groups in Northern Sulawesi

The Bolaang Mongondow is a group that lives in northern Sulawesi. Also known as the Bolaang-Mongondese, Bolaang-Mongondo, Mongondou, Mongondow, they live mostly on highland plateaus and raise wet rice, sago, yams and cassava. There are about 1.5 million of them. About 90 percent are Muslims. Their society has traditionally had three divisions: nobles, commoners and slaves. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Minahasans live in a mountainous area in the extreme northeastern section of the northern peninsula on Sulawesi. Also known as the Minahasa, Minahasser, Minhasa, Tombalu, Tombulu, Toumbulu, they are a confederation of groups that joined together to fight their neighbors, the Bolaang Mongondow. The Minahasans raise wet and dry rice and others crops and are known as being good in business and have a tradition of service on international shipping lines. They are regarded as being outward looking and possessing excellent language and navigation skills. In the past they had close contact with the Dutch. They are mostly Christians and their traditional culture has largely disappeared. The Minahasans are said to have descended from the marriage of a mother and son who were created by gods that rose from the sea. ~

The Gorontalese are the dominant group in northwestern Sulawesi. Also known as the Gorontalo, Holontalo, Hulontal, they number around 500,000 and are most Sunni Muslims who have kept many of their traditional beliefs alive. ~

The Tomini live in northern Sulawesi. Also known as the Tiadje, Tialo, Toi-toli, Tominers, they live primarily on the coast in stilted houses and are subsistence farmers who produce maize, wet rice and sago and are very much involved in the production of cloves. Most are Sunni Muslims, with some animist tribes living in small enclaves in the mountains. These tribes have been the object of acculturation and relocation efforts by the Indonesian government. They numbered around 74,000 in 1980. ~

Groups in Central Sulawesi

The Balantak is a group that lives on the most easterly end of east-central Sulawesi. Also known as the Kosian and Balantak, thye have traditionally been slash-and -burn agriculturists and raised domestic animals such as goats and dogs. Their traditional belief system revolves around ancestor worship. Many are now Muslims and Christians. They numbered about 30,000 in the early 1980s and are closely related to the Banggai. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Banggai inhabit the Banggain Archipelago off the tip of the peninsula in east-central Sulawesi. Also known as the Aki, Mian Banggai, Mian Sea-Sea, they too have traditionally been slash-and -burn agriculturist but they also have raised coconuts as a cash crop. They numbered around 86,000 in 1978 and incorporate animism into their Muslim and Christian beliefs. ~

The Saluan live in east-central Sulawesi. Also known as the Loinan, Loinanezen, Loindang, Madi and To Loinang, they are mostly subsistence farmers who live in raised wood or bamboo houses in villages with no more than 7000 inhabitants. Their traditional religion is based on ancestor worship. Many are now Muslims or Christians. ~

Groups in Southern Sulawesi

The Laki live in the southern part of southeastern Sulawesi. Also known as the Lalaki, Lolaki, To Laki, they raise rice and sago and hunt deer. Traditionally their society was divided into nobles, commoners and slaves. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Muna live on Muna Island south of the southeastern peninsula of Sulawesi. Also known as the Mina, Moenanezen, and To Muna, they have traditionally lived in plaited-grass houses on piles and raised maize, sweet potatoes and sugar and were ruled for centuries by the Butonese sultanate. ~

The Toala live in the mountains of southwest Sulawesi. Also known as the East Toraja, Luwu, Teleu Limpoe, To Ale, they are former hunter-gatherers who are now primarily subsistence farmers and workers at copra plantations. Some are Muslims but many have retained their traditional animist beliefs. There were about 30,000 of them in 1983. In the old days they were divided into three subtribes ruled by hereditary chiefs but now have an elected chief. ~

Bajo and Samal

The term Samal is used to describe a diverse group of Sama-Bajau-speaking people who are found in a large maritime area with many islands that stretch from central Philippines to the eastern coat of Borneo and from Sulawesi to Roti in eastern Indonesia. Also known as Sea Gypsies, Badjaw, Bajao, Bajau, Sama, Samah, Samal Moro and Turijene in the Philippines, and Bajo, Luwa’an, Pala’au. Sama Dilaut, Samah, and Turijene in Indonesia, and he Bajai Laut or Ornag Laut in Malaysia they are generally associated with the Sulu islands, the southernmost islands of the Philippines. Samal is sometimes treated as the plural of Sama. Most Samal are Muslims. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993)]

The Samal traditionally spent so much time on the water that it was said they only came ashore to die. Some still live in traditional outrigger houseboats that can be moved to different points, bury their dead on sacred islands and exchange services for spring water at coastal settlements of other groups. Now most are land based. The boat-based groups are found mainly in the Sulu islands and southeastern Sabah.

The Samal are a highly fragmented people who are unified by their traditional seafaring ways and Sama-Bajau languages. They usually identify themselves with their dialect and the area they are based and have links to their country that has domain over their base islands and the dominant ethnic groups on their base islands— the Tausug and Maguindanao in the southern Philippines, Malaysians and Bruneians in western Sabah, and the Ternatans, Bugis and Makassarese in eastern Indonesia. Notable Samal groups include the Abak of Capul Island, northwest of Samar; the Takan of Basilan Island and coastal Zamboanga.

There around 700,000 Sama-Bajua speakers. Those in the Philippines referred to as Samal are the largest groups. There are maybe 300,000 of them. There are also 130,000 Yakan; 30,000 Jama Mapun. There are maybe 80,000 in Sabah and between 150,000 and 200,000 in eastern Indonesia. The largest Samal communities in Indonesia are in Sulawesi. They are also found near Balikpapan in East Kalimantan and islands off the east Borneo coast. Other are widely scattered on islands between the Moluccas and Timor and around the islands of Nusa Tengarra (the islands east of Bali).

History of the Samal

Based on linguistic evidence, the Samal are believed to have originated in southwestern Mindanao and the northeastern islands of the Sulu archipelago, and began dispersing in the A.D. 1st millennium. According to legend the event was triggered by the loss or abduction of a princess. Most moved southward and westward and appear to have been motivated by Chinese trade and the purist of maritime resources. Early groups carved out ecological niches for themselves, with some falling into land-based groups while others being part of sea-based ones.

The Samal’s place in the world and their migration patterns were affected by the rise of the Tausug dynasty in the 13th century, the founding of the Sulu and Brunei sultanates of the 15th century and the bech-de-mer trade and competition from Bugis and Makassarese trades. Bech-de-mer (sea slugs) are a Chinese culinary delicacy and purported aphrodisiac.

With the rise of the Tausug port of Jolo as a major entrepot for slaves, the Samal in some areas became actively engaged in piracy and the slave trade and conducted regular slaving raids until their operation was shut down by the Spanish in 1848.

The secessionist conflicts in the Sulu archipelago in the 1970s resulted in the dislocation of thousands of Samal. Many fled to Zamboanga, Taitawi and the Subutu group or crossed the Malaysia border into eastern Sabah. At the same time large numbers of Tausuh moved from Jolo and Siasi, centers of Islamic extremism, onto the former Samal islands of Tawitawi and Sibutu, forcing more Samal to migrate westward to Sabah, where they became regarded as refugees.

Samal Religion

Most Samal are Sunni Muslims of the Shafu school. Every Samal parish contains a mosque, which is a center of worship and community activity. Mosque officials are appointed by parish elders. Religious officials known as “paki” preside over various ceremonies and serve as religious counselors. Allah is called Tuhan.

Pre-Islamic beliefs about spirits and ghosts remain. Most spirits are regarded as malevolent. Mediums, diviners and herbalist-healers are consulted for health problems. The sick are treated with trance dances performed by cloth-waving shaman.

Islamic burial customs are practiced. The deceased are buried under grave of crushed coral and sand with their heads facing Mecca. Sometimes they are buried on special islands with betel nut boxes. For seven nights after the burial family members gather and read passages from the Koran. During the month of Shaabam God, the Samal believe the souls of the dead return to earth and at this times graves are cleaned and special prayers are said.

Samal Marriage

Samal marriages are generally between kindred of around the same age, preferably between patrilineal, parallel cousins, and may be partially arranged by parents with the help of a go-between. The marriage may by initiated by an elopement or in some special cases by an abduction. In all cases a bride price is paid, with a particularly high one being paid in the case of an abduction.

Weddings have traditionally been the biggest and most grand Samal gatherings. The ceremony is presided over by an imam or group of religious officials, who witness the transfer of the bride price. In a traditional weddings of boat-dwelling Samal the groom is doused with seawater, the bride's face is painted with chalk and her eyebrows are shaped into triangles, girls dance on boats and men throw bananas at each other. The climax of the ceremony is when the father of the bride takes the finger of the groom and places it in the head of the bride and then her breasts. These days the bride often wears a white dress and the groom an Arab headpiece from Mecca. Sometimes newlyweds are pushed out to sea on a boat.

Newlywed couples may live with the bride’s or groom’s family and are expected to set up their own households by the second or third year of marriage, often with the house near the bride’s family cluster. Polygyny is allowed but rarely practiced. The frequency of divorce varies with the group, but is said to be common among some groups.

Samal Family

Samal households are defined as a group that eats together and is usually comprised of a nuclear family with a few additional relatives. The division of labor is pretty equal with men specializing in boat building and iron works and women specializing in pandanus mat weaving and pottery making. Both men and women engage in trade. Among nomadic groups men have traditionally done the fishing while women engaged in inshore gathering.

Family members are expected to attend funerals, children’s weddings and thanksgiving rites; lending and borrowing of property, food or money; and exchanging visits and hospitality. Children are highly valued. They undergo a ritual hair cutting and weighing ceremony. Both sexes are circumcised. Girls are circumcised between the ages of two and six in small private rituals attended only by women. Many children receive some kind of training in the Koran. Reciting the Koran is a greatly valued skill.

After puberty girls are expected to stay close to home. They assist in household chores. Boys are given more freedom. They often help their fathers fishing. Children attend school but generally only for a couple of years. Three days after a child is born his father swims with him to introduce him to the sea.

Samal Society

Samal social and political organization varies with the group. Some groups are egalitarian. Others, often the larger ones, have a hierarchal structure with nobility and commoners, and in the past slaves. These days hereditary privileges are largely a thing of past but titles still carry prestige.

Political organization begins at the cluster level and may advance to the parish and district level among larger groups. It is manifested primarily through the establishment of networks and coalitions between Samal groups and with non-Samal groups and governments in the countries that have jurisdiction over them. Many Samal groups are subordinate to dominate Tausug, Maguindanao and Bugis groups. In the past some groups were treated as the property of local sultans.

Mosques are a center of social, community and religious life. Clusters and parishes are generally led by elders, cluster leaders and religion leaders. Incidents of armed conflict are relatively rate, although raids and vendettas sometimes occur. Disputes are settled with the help of cluster, parish and villages leaders. Incidents involving different groups are often settled using Islamic law.

Samal Settlements

Samal villages generally consist of closely-clustered houses situated along well-protected stretches of shoreline. They are often built directly over the sea in channels or tidal shallows, often behind a fringing reef. Household are often grouped in clusters of related kin with their own chief. The houses are often built near of nipa near mangrove forests, where residents work as thatch- and woodcutters. Large clusters are often organized around a mosque. Schools, mosques and clinics are usually located inland. Some villages are entirely on land and even built somewhat inland.

Houses are raised on piles one to three meters above the high water mark or the ground and are usually comprised of a single room attached to a kitchen, often a room without a roof where various chores are performed.. Those of poor people are typically constructed of split bamboo and have thatched roofs. Many are poorly constructed and too small to allow a person to stand up straight. Those belonging to wealthier families have timber walls and floods, corrugated metal roofing and have additional sleeping rooms. House built over the water are connected by catwalks.

Nomadic groups traditionally have been made up of communities of scattered marriage groups that return regularly to common anchorage sites. These groups were formed around family alliances of two to six closely related boat-dwelling families. who share food, pool labor and fish and anchor together and are intermarried and make regular visits to other groups. The boats they live on vary in size. The small ones are generally dugout vessels with double outriggers. Larger ones lack outriggers and have a solid keel. Both types have a roofed living area made of poles and “kaang” matting and a portable earthenware hearth used to prepare meals. Typically one nuclear family lives on each boat.

Samal Life

Samal arts includes dancing, singing, and music produced xylophone, drums and gongs. Gongs are used to provide the melody and they are often played by women. Their main dance, the “daling-daling” is performed mainly at weddings. and often involves the exchange of verse between men and women. Among the Samal crafts are dyed pandanus mats, food covers, ornaments made of shell and turtle shell, weaving and textiles, and decorative wood carving, often featured in houses, burial markers, boats and machete handles.

Samal textiles feature rectangular design elements and figurative motifs. Some men wear square head clothes known as “destar”. Nomadic Samals wear no clothes before the age of 10.

Samal girls often look like ghosts. They put white cake on their faces called borak which is made from rice, fruit and nuts. What does it do? It moisturizes the skin of course.

Samal Economics and Piracy

Samal have traditionally made their living from fishing, farming, seafaring and trade, and sometimes piracy and smuggling. The nature of their work is often defined by where they live and who their neighbors were. Some Samal in the Sulu islands run guns between Borneo and Muslim insurgencies in the southern Philippines

Samal fish using traps, spears, hand lines, long lines, drift nets and explosives. They catch dolphins and other sea mammals and sea turtles and collect shellfish, crustaceans, turtle eggs, sea urchins, pearls, mother-of-pearl, and edible algae and sea weed. Drift netting is often done with the fall tide, especially during new and full moons. Most fish are dried and salted for sale in markets. Many earn money from shark fins. Coconuts are a major cash crop for land-based Samal. They also grow dry rice, maize, beans, sugarcane and other crops.

Property rights are exercised in connection with fishing grounds and reefs and farms and residential land. Among nomadic groups overlapping fishing grounds have generally invited cooperation rather than fueled feuds. Inheritable possessions includes livestock, farm land. fishing boats, jewelry and gongs.

Most groups practice some kind of farming. Different groups specialize in producing different crafts such as pandanus mats, pottery, roofing, weaving, blacksmithing, and making shell bracelets, tortise shell combs and other items. Boat-building is an especially valued skill. The Sibuti Samal are known as being the best Samal boat builders. Trade is important to the Samal, who have traditionally relied on it even for necessities. They traditionally traded with all comers and exchanged products they gathered from the sea for things like grain and fruit. They also acted as middlemen for trade between other groups.

The Sulu islands between the Philippines and Sabah is ripe with pirates even today. It is not unusual for boats to go missing on perfectly fine days. Many of the pirates have normal day jobs when they are on land.

In Sulawesi Samal still dive for trepang, pearls and other marine products. When Chinese and Bugis introduced compressed air, which allowed them to dive longer they failed to explain about the bends properly. In one area alone more than 40 men were killed and a large number were crippled for life. Today they swim sometimes using homemade wood and glass goggles and handmade spear guns and little else.


The Butonese are a group that live in two regions on the southeastern part of Sulawesi and on the islands of Buton (Butuni or Butung), Muna, Kabaen and the Tukangbese Islands. Also known as the Orang Buton, Orang Butung, Orang Butuni, they once belonged to a powerful sultanate that was dissolved in 1960 but otherwise are difficult to define. There are about a half million people on the islands and regions that once belonged to the Butonese sultanate. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Butonese sultanate was founded as a Hindu kingdom in the 15th century. The sixth king (raja) converted to Islam in 1540 and later converted the whole kingdom, which lies on the strategic route between the Spice islands and Java. The sultanates of Makassar and Termate tried to control Buton which managed to stay independent through agreements with the Dutch East India Company and later the Dutch colonial government and wasn’t completely absorbed by Indonesia until 1960. ~

Butonese settlements have tended to be closely packed together with a high number of residences. Many have been located in defensible positions like on hills and had stone walls and other protection to defend off attacks from pirates. Some Butonese are farmers who raise rice, maize, tobacco, peanuts, cashews and other crops but mostly they are known as boat builders and prahu-based mariners and sea traders like the Bugis. In the old days they were involved in slave trading. ~

Many Butonese social customs and religious beliefs are in line with those of Islam. Sufism is strong and is believed to have taken root because of its similarities with Hindu beliefs that existed before the conversion to Islam. Monogamy is the rule but in the past many nobles and the sultan had several wives. There traditionally have been four classes—two classes of nobles, commoners and slaves—which still define and stratify their descendants and specify who they can marry. ~

Cia-Cia Butonese Adopt Korean Hangul to Preserve Their Language

The Cia-Cia, a Butonese group that lives in Bau-Bau, the main city on Buton Island, have officially adopted Hangul, the Korean written alphabet, to transcribe their spoken language of Cia-Cia. It is the first time that foreigners have adopted Hangul as their official writing system. According to the Hunminjeongeum Research Institute, the city began distributing textbooks written in Hangul in 2009 to 400 elementary students in the Sorawolio district where many Cia-Cia people live. [Source: hankorey, August 7, 2009]

The 60,000 member Cia-Cia tribe has been on the verge of a crisis regarding the disappearance of their language. They do not have a writing system to complement their spoken language. Members of the Hunminjeongeum Research Institute persuaded them to adopt Hangul, and established a memorandum of understanding with city officials to use Hangul on July 2008. The Hunminjeongeum Research Institute invited two persons from the Cia-Cia tribe to Seoul to create a textbook written in Hangul. The textbook includes traditional Cia-Cia and Korean stories. The Hunminjeongeum Research Institute and Bau-Bau City will build a Hangul Culture Center and plan to train teachers in Hangul. Kim Ju-won, the president of the Hunminjeongeum Research Institute, says “It is significant that Hangul can be used to prevent a minority language from disappearing.” [Ibid]

In 2013, the Korean Times reported: “The King Sejong Institute, which operates Korean-learning programs overseas, established a language school in Bau-Bau City on Indonesia's Buton Island in early 2012 to teach Hangeul but it was temporarily closed eight months later due to a budget shortage. The school, located inside Muhammadiyah Buton University, resumed operations in 2013 said Song Hyang-geun, chairman of the King Sejong Institute. "We've reopened language courses for the Cia Cia after resolving the financial problem," Song said. "A 27-year-old Indonesian teacher, who completed Korean teaching programs in Korea last year, will give lessons twice a week, using textbooks tailored for the minority tribe." Song also said another Korean language school will be established in Makassar City on Sulawesi Island in March. There is also a similar school in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Song said the Cia Cia people have shown a growing interest in learning Korean since the tribe adopted the Korean alphabet to transcribe its native language in 2009. [Source: Na Jeong-ju, Korean Times, January 3, 2013]


The Makassar live in southwestern Sulawesi. Also known as the Macassarese, Makassaren, Makassarese, Mangkasaren, they once ruled a powerful maritime kingdom and have traditionally been rivals and cultural cousins of the Bugis. The have traditionally occupied an area of southern peninsula of Sulawesi south of the area occupied by the Bugis. Their name for themselves is “Tu Mangkasara,” meaning “people who behave frankly.” They number about 2 million, with many living outside of Sulawesi. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Makassarese, have their own language and share an ancient written language with the Bugis (see the Bugis). As is true with the Bugis the have been staunchly Islamic and independent minded and the rhythm of their agricultural and maritime life is influenced by the monsoon seasons. ~

Makassar History

The first mention of the Makassar is around 1400. At that time there were a number of Makassar principalities, each of which was said to have been founded by a princess or prince who descended from heavenly beings. Islam arrived in 1605. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

The Makassar state of Gowa became the most powerful state in Indonesia, outmuscling its rivals the Bugis of southeastern Sulawesi and exerting control over much of what is now eastern Indonesia in the 16th and 17th century. Early European explorers to the region encountered Makassar fleets trading as far east as New Guinea and as far south as Australia. The Makassar were among the first outsiders to have contact with Australian Aborigines, introducing metal tools, pottery and tobacco to them. Gowa endured until it was defeated by Dutch and Bugi forces in 1669. ~

The Dutch East India Company viewed Gowa as a threat to its spice monopoly. It allied itself with a Bugi prince to fight them. After a year of fighting the sultan of Gowa was forced to sign the Treaty of Bungaya in 1668 that greatly reduced Gowa’s power and gave the Dutch control of sea lanes and the sources of spices that it wanted. ~

After that the Makassar periodically rebelled and were not brought under Dutch control until 1906 when Dutch forces conquered the interior of their homeland and killed the king of Gowa. Colonialism was only made possible by the incorporation of Makassarese nobles into the colonial system. Even today Makassar nobles occupy many positions of authority in the Indonesian government. ~

Makassar Life

Makassar settlements and economic activities are similar to those of the Bugis (See Separate Article on the Bugis). In the old days many rural homes were built of bamboo and were scattered among rice fields and gardens. These days houses are built mostly of wood or bricks and have metal roofs and are clustered together near roads. The Makassar air renowned as traders and boat builders and are considered better fishermen than the Bugis. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

Conservative Islam is relatively strong. Girls and women are expected y have no contact with non-relative males until they are married. In rural areas traditional beliefs about spirits and ancestors remain and traditional priests perform various rituals. People seek out the help of traditional healers for illnesses believed to be caused by malevolent spirits. Iman preside over marriage ceremonies, funerals and over life cycle events. ~

There is a strong sense of honor expressed in the concept of “siri” (shame. honor and self respect). Those who insult another person’s siri risk being killed. In the old days there were many conflicts and disputes tied to the siri of an individual, his family or female relatives. These days police try to keep such matters from getting out of hand. Non- honor disputes are often settled with the help of community and religious leaders. In the old days, people who violated marriage taboos were drowned to death. ~

Makassar Society and Marriage

Among the Makassar Social rank still plays an important role in defining one’s place in the community. There have traditionally been three ranks: nobles, commoners and slaves, and one’s status today is defined to some extent by which groups one’s ancestors belong to. Rank can be passed on both on the mother’s and father’s side and marriage has traditionally been a way for one to improve their rank. There is some upward mobility through merit, skill, talent or accumulation of wealth. [Source: “Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia” edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993) ~]

Villages are theoretically supposed to be organized around kin groups that trace their origin to a real or fictitious ancestors but in practice there is a lot of mixing between kin groups. Many marriages are still arranged and communication between unmarried young men and women is either forbidden or frowned upon. In many cases the most desired unions are between second cousins. Social rank is important in choosing a partner. Men are expected to marry women who are their rank or below. ~

The groom’s family pays a bride price to the bride’s family, part of which is supposed to cover the cost of the wedding feasts. Elopement sometimes take place if there is a problem getting parental approval. Polygyny is discouraged, even among the wealthy. Divorce is done in accordance with Muslim law. ~

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated June 2015

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