North Maluku


North Maluku

Marimoi Ngone Futuru - Bersatu Kita Teguh - United We Stand

North Maluku (Indonesian: Maluku Utara) is a province of Indonesia. It covers the northern part of the Maluku Islands, bordering the Pacific Ocean to the north, the Halmahera Sea to the east, the Molucca Sea to the west, and the Seram Sea to the south. The provincial capital is Sofifi on the largest island of Halmahera, while the largest city is the island city of Ternate. The population of North Maluku was 1,038,087 in the 2010 census, making it one of the least-populous provinces in Indonesia, but by the 2020 Census the population had risen to 1,278,764.

North Maluku was originally the centre of the four largest Islamic sultanates in the eastern Indonesian archipelago—Bacan, Jailolo, Tidore and Ternate—known as the Moloku Kië Raha (the Four Mountains of Maluku). Upon Europeans’ arrival at the beginning of the 16th century, North Maluku became the site of competition between the Portuguese, Spanish and the Dutch to control trade. In the end, the Dutch emerged victorious, beginning three centuries of Dutch rule in the region. The Japanese invaded the region during World War II, and Ternate became the center of the Japanese rule of the Pacific region. Following the Indonesia’s independence, the region became a part of the province of Maluku.  

The province of North Maluku was officially established on 12 October 1999. Ternate served as its de facto capital until 2010, when the provincial government moved to Sofifi. The regional economy in North Maluku largely relies on the agricultural sector, fisheries and other types of marine products. The main commodities that support the economic pulse in North Maluku include copra, nutmeg, cloves, fisheries, gold and nickel. North Maluku’s agricultural products include rice, corn, roasted sweet potatoes, beans, coconut, potatoes, nutmeg, sago, and eucalyptus.


The islands of North Maluku are mostly of volcanic origin, with the volcanoes of Dukono on Halmahera, Gamalama on Ternate still active and the whole of Tidore consisting of a large stratovolcano.

The North Maluku Islands are formed by the movement of three tectonic plates, namely Eurasia, the Pacific and Indo-Australia which have occurred since the time of lime. this movement formed the archipelago volcanic archipelago that stretched from north to south in western Halmahera, including Ternate Island, Tidore Island, Moti Island, Mare Island and Makian Island. Halmahera Island itself is a volcanic island even though volcanic activity occurs only in a part of its territory.

The islands have a tropical rainforest climate (Af).


The rainforests of Halmahera, Morotai, the Obi Islands, the Bacan islands and other islands of North Maluku have been described by the World Wildlife Fund as the Halmahera rain forests ecoregion and are home to a number of plant and animal species unique to the islands, which are in the Wallacea transition zone, containing a mixture of species of Asian and Australasian origin. The predominant trees of the forest are Anisoptera thurifera, Hopea gregaria, Hopea iriana, Shorea assamica, Shorea montigena, Shorea selanica, and Vatica rassak.

The endemic mammals found here include the Obi mosaic-tailed rat (Melomys obiensis), masked flying fox (Pteropus personatus), and four arboreal marsupials, the ornate (Phalanger ornatus), Rothschild’s (P. rothschildi), blue-eyed (P. matabiru) and Gebe (P. alexandrae) cuscuses. There are over two hundred different birds on the islands, twenty-six of which are endemic, a large number for this small island group. The endemics include four birds which are the only species in their genera, including the elusive invisible rail (Habroptila wallacii), the white-streaked friarbird (Melitograis gilolensis), and two birds of paradise, the paradise-crow (Lycocorax pyrrhopterus) and Wallace’s standardwing (Semioptera wallacii). The islands are also home to the largest bee in the world, Wallace’s giant bee (Megachile pluto).

Most of the natural forest remains on these mountainous islands, although much of the coastal and lowland areas have been cleared for clove-planting since the sixteenth century, especially on the islands of Ternate and Tidore. Logging has occurred more recently on Halmahera and Morotai.

The Sula Islands are part of the Sulawesi lowland rain forests ecoregion.


Maluku are dominated by the Moluccans, which are part of the Melanesian ethnic race related to the people in New Guinea as well as other countries such as Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and several island nations scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

There is a lot of strong evidence that refers to Maluku having traditional ties with the Pacific island nation, such as language, folk songs, food, as well as equipment for household appliances and typical musical instruments, for example: Ukulele (which is also found in the Hawaiian cultural tradition).

They generally have dark skin, curly hair, large and strong bones, and a more athletic body profile compared to other tribes in Indonesia, because they are a tribe of islands where sea activities such as sailing and swimming are the main activities for men.

Since ancient times, many of them already had mixed blood with other tribes, namely with Europeans (generally the Netherlands and Portugal) and Spain, then the Arabs were very common considering this area had been controlled by foreign nations for 2,300 years and gave birth to new descendants, which is no longer a pure Melanesian race but still inherits and lives with the Melanesian-Alifuru style.

Because of this mixture of culture and race with Europeans and Arabs, Maluku is the only Indonesian territory that is classified as an area that has the largest Mestizo population other than East Nusa Tenggara. Many Moluccans still retained foreign surnames from foreign countries such as the Netherlands (Van Afflen, Van Room, De Wanna, De Kock, Kniesmeijer, Gaspersz, Ramschie, Payer, Ziljstra, Van der Weden, etc.), Portugal (Da Costa, De Fretes, Que, Carliano, De Souza, De Carvalho, Pareira, Courbois, Frandescolli, etc.), Spanish (Oliviera, Diaz, De Jesus, Silvera, Rodriguez, Montefalcon, Mendoza, De Lopez, etc.) and Arabic directly from Hadramaut (Al-Kaff, Al Chatib, Bachmid, Bakhwereez, Bahasoan, Al-Qadri, Alaydrus, Assegaff, etc.)

Today, the people of Maluku are not only found in Indonesia but are spread in various countries in the world. Most of those who migrate abroad are due to various reasons. One of the reasons for the most classic was the large-scale movement of the Moluccas to Europe in the 1950s and settled there until now. Another reason is to get a better, more knowledgeable life, marrying and marrying other nations, who later settle down and have generations of new Moluccas in the other hemisphere.

These Maluku expatriates can be found in quite large communities and are concentrated in several countries such as the Netherlands (which is considered the second homeland by the Moluccas other than the land of Maluku itself), Suriname, and Australia. The Maluku community in other regions of Indonesia can be found in Medan, Palembang, Bandung, Greater Jakarta, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, Makassar, Kupang, Manado, East Kalimantan, Sorong, and Jayapura.


The language used in Maluku, especially in Ambon, has been influenced by foreign languages in a way, languages of explorers who have visited, visited, and even occupied and colonized Maluku in the past. The nations were the Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Dutch.

The Ambonese language as the lingua franca in Maluku has been understood by almost all residents of Maluku Province and generally, little by little, is understood by other East Indonesian people such as those in Ternate, Manado, Kupang, etc. because Ambonese is related to other languages in the provinces of North Sulawesi, North Maluku, Papua, West Papua, and East Nusa Tenggara.

Indonesian, as the official language and language of unity in the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), is used in official and formal public activities such as in government offices and in schools and in places such as museums, airports and ports.

Maluku is the largest archipelago in all of Indonesia. Maluku Province and North Maluku Province together compose the Maluku Islands. The large number of islands that are separated by long distances from each other also results in the increasingly diverse languages used in this province. Some of the most common languages spoken in Maluku – apart from Ambonese and Indonesian – are:
Wemale language, used by residents of Piru, Seruawan, Kamarian, and Rumberu in the West Seram Regency.
Alune language is used in three water streams, namely Tala, Mala and Malewa in the West Seram Regency area.
Nuaulu language, spoken by the Nuaulu tribe in the south of Seram Island, is between Elpaputi Bay and Teluk Teluti.
Atiahu language, used by three ethnic groups, which also included the Nuaulu family, namely Atiahu, Werinama, and Batuasa in the East Seram Regency.
Seti language is spoken by the Seti people, in North Seram and East Teluti, and also as a trade language in Eastern Seram, and
Tarangan language, spoken in the Aru Island region


Most of the people of Maluku adheres to the three main religions namely Islam (49.61% of the population), Protestantism (42.40%), and Catholicism (6.76%). The spread of Islam was carried out by the Sultanates of Iha, Saulau, Hitu, and Hatuhaha and Arab traders who visited Maluku. While the spread of Christianity was carried out by missionaries from Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.

Places of worship in Maluku Province in 2013 were recorded as follows: 2,345 churches; 2,000 mosques; 10 temples; and 5 Vihara.

The Protestant Church of Maluku or commonly known as the GPM is the largest synod organization and church organization in Maluku, which has church congregations in almost the entire Sarane country throughout Maluku.


The famous musical instruments are Tifa (a type of drum) and Totobuang. Each musical instrument from Tifa to Totobuang has different functions and supports each other to give birth to a very distinctive color of music. But this music is dominated by Tifa musical instruments.

It consists of Tifa, Tifa Jekir, Tifa Dasar, Tifa Potong, Tifa Jekir Potong and Tifa Bas, plus a large Gong and Toto Buang which is a series of small gongs placed on a table with several holes as a buffer. There is also a wind instrument namely Bia Skin (Shellfish).

In the culture of Maluku, there are also stringed instruments namely Ukulele and that can also be found in the Hawaiian culture in the United States. This can be seen when Maluku music from the past until now still has a characteristic in which there is the use of Hawaiian musical instruments both in pop songs and in accompanying traditional dances such as Katreji.

Other musical instruments is the Sawat. Sawat is a blend of Maluku culture and Middle Eastern culture. In a few centuries ago, the Arabs came to spread Islam in Maluku, then there was a mixture of cultures including music. It is evident in several Sawat musical instruments, such as Tambourines and Flutes that characterize Arabian music instruments.

Outside of the variety of musical instruments, Moluccan people are famous for being good at singing. Since long ago they have often sung in accompanying traditional dances. There are many famous Moluccan singers in both Indonesia and the Netherlands, such as Broery Pesulima, Daniel Sahuleka, Ruth Sahanaya, Eric Papilaya, Glen Fredly, etc.


The famous dance from the Moluccas is the Cakalele which describes the might of the Moluccas. This dance is usually performed by adult men while holding Parang and Salawaku (Shield).

There are also other dances like Saureka-Reka that use the sago palm fronds. The dances performed by six women really need accuracy and speed while accompanied by a very interesting musical rhythm.

The dance which is a depiction of youth association is Katreji. Katreji dance is played in pairs between women and men with varied energetic and interesting movements. This dance is almost the same as European dances in general because Katreji is also an acculturation of European (Portuguese and Dutch) culture with Maluku culture.

This is more evident in every signal in changing floor patterns and movements which still use Portuguese and Dutch as a process of bilingualism. This dance is accompanied by a violin instrument, bamboo flute, ukulele, karakas, guitar, tifa, and bass guitar with a more prominent western (European) musical pattern. This dance is still performed by the people of Maluku until now.

In addition to Katreji, the famous European influence is Polonaise, which is usually carried out by Moluccans at the time of marriage by each party member in pairs, forming a circle formation and carrying out light movements that can be followed by everyone, both young and old.

In addition, there is also a Crazy Bamboo Dance. Crazy bamboo dance is a special dance that is magical, originating from Suli Village. The uniqueness of this dance is that the dancers are burdened by bamboo which can move uncontrollably and this dance can be followed by anyone.

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Maluku makes sago as its staple food and is one of the areas famous for its beautiful islands and fish-based specialties.

In ancient times, the inhabitants of Europe called Maluku the “Spice Islands” because Maluku province was the best producer of spices, such as cloves and nutmeg.

In addition, Maluku is also famous for its abundant marine products. Here are my typical Maluku foods.

Kabupaten & Kotamadya

Administratively, North Maluku Province consists of 8 Kabupaten and 2 Kotamadya. These Kabupaten and Kotamadya government administration consists of 115 Kecamatan, 117 Kelurahan, and 1.063 Desa.