Malaysia is one of the most vibrant countries in Southeast Asia. This modern nation boasts numerous world-renowned icons, such as the glittering Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. Malaysia is also a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. The population consists of Malay, Chinese and Indian along with other communities such as Straits Chinese and Portuguese Eurasian.
Malaysia’s fascinating potpourri is made even more colourful with the country’s indigenous and aboriginal people. The country has two distinct groups of natives – the Indigenous People or ethnic groups of Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan as well as the Aboriginal People of Peninsular Malaysia.
The state of Sabah has the highest number of ethnic groups, boasting 32 communities with various dialects and cultures. The neighboring state of Sarawak has five main ethnic groups. In Peninsular Malaysia, there are 18 aboriginal tribes that are spread across various states.
With such diversity, Malaysia boasts a rich cultural tapestry dotted with exotic tribal festivals, fascinating myths and legends, irresistible crafts and age-old rituals. There are readily available tour packages to visit the indigenous people of Malaysia.
Alternatively, for those who wish to explore at their own pace, places such as Monsopiad Heritage Village (Sabah), Sarawak Cultural Village, Sarawak Museum and Annah Rais Longhouse (Sarawak) as well as Gombak Orang Asli Museum (Selangor) offer great insights into the tribal customs and traditions.
The indigenous and aboriginal people of Malaysia are mostly urbanised and lead a modern lifestyle. However, they still uphold their cultural identity and preserve their tribal customs.