Seram Island

Seram Island

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Seram 34 Tribes


Alune 17.200  Christian
Central Maluku, west Seram, Seram Barat District, 5 villages; Kairatu, Taniwel districts, 22 villages. Alternate names: Patasiwa Alfoeren, Sapalewa. Dialects: Kairatu, Central West Alune (Niniari-Piru-Riring-Lumoli), South Alune (RamAlunebatu-Manussa-Rumberu), North Coastal Alune (Nikulkan-Murnaten-Wakolo), Central East Alune (Buriah-Weth-Laturake). Rambatu dialect reportedly prestigious. Kawe [kgb] may be a dialect. Related to Naka’ela [nae] and Lisabata-Nuniali [lcs]. Lexical similarity: 77%–91% among dialects, 64% with Lisabata-Nuniali, 63% with Hulung [huk] and Naka’ela.
Amahai 50 Islam
southwest Seram. 4 villages near Masohi. Alternate names: Amahei. Dialects: Makariki, Rutah, Soahuku. Language subgroup with Iha [ihp] and Kaibobo [kzb]. Also related to Elpaputih [elp] and Nusa Laut [nul]. Lexical similarity: 87% between dialects Makariki and Rutah villages; probably 2 languages, 59%-69% with Saparua [spr], 59% with Kamarian [kzx], 58% with Kaibobo, 52% with Piru [ppr], Luhu [lcq], and Hulung [huk], 50% with Alune [alp], 49% with Naka’ela [nae], 47% with Lisabata-Nuniali [lcs] and South Wemale [tlw], 45% with North Wemale [weo] and Nuaulu, 44% with Boano [bzn] and Saleman [sau].
Ambonese Malay 200.000 Christian
Ambon, Haruku, Nusa Laut, Saparua Islands, along the coastal areas of Seram, and south Maluku. Also in Netherlands, United States. Alternate names: Ambonese, Ambong, Malayu Ambon. Dialects: Dobo Malay. Marginal intelligibility with Indonesian [ind]. Difficult intelligibility with Ternate Malay [max]; speakers switch to Indonesian. Lexical similarity: 81% with Standard Malay [zsm]. Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Malayo-Sumbawan, North and East, Malayic, Malay, Trade, East Indonesian
Banda Malay 3.690 Islam
Bati 3.500 Islam
Coastal east Seram Island between Kian Darat and Keleser, and inland. Alternate names: Gah. Dialects: Related to Geser-Gorom [ges], Watubela [wah].
Boano 3.240 Islam
Boano Island west of Seram, mainly North Buano village. Alternate names: Buano. Dialects: Related to Larike-Wakasihu [alo]. Lexical similarity: 60% with Luhu [lcq], 61% with Lisabata-Nuniali [lcs] (most similar).
Bobot 4.500 Islam
southeast Seram, Werinama District, from Atiahu village to Kota Baru, and Tunsai village in Liana area. Alternate names: Ahtiago, Atiahu, Hatumeten, Ntau, Werinama. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 44% with Sepa [spb] and Teluti [tlt], 42% with Yalahatan [jal].
Geser-Gorom-36.500 Islam
East end of Seram, Gorom Islands. Alternate names: Gesa, Geser, Goram, Goran, Gorom, Gorong, Seram, Seran, Seran Laut. Dialects: Goram Laut, Mina Mina Gorong, Kelimuri. Lexical similarity: 73%–93% among dialects, 51%–61% with Watubela [wah]
The Geser-Gorom live on the Gorom islands and the eastern end of the neighboring island of Seram. Both islands are in the province of Maluku. Some confusion exists in relation to this group because in some instances, all theGeser-Gorom people groups located on the island are called the Seram people, and in other instances, they are called by specific and distinct names such as the Wemale, Alune, Nuaulu, and Lumoli. If distinguished by their dialect, the Geser-Gorom people living on east Seram and the Gorom islands are divided into three groups, the Goram Laut, the Mina Mina Gorong, and the Kelimuri. The people groups that live on the island of Seram are sometimes also called the Alifuru, which means “First Man”. Also, the island of Seram is often called Nusa Ina, which means “Mother Island”. The naming of the people and their island illustrates their belief that the island is the birthplace of man.
The primary livelihood of the Geser-Gorom is farming and fishing. They cultivate rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, peanuts, sago palms, and coconuts. Their principle foods are rice and sago. In the past, farmers were known for the Kabasa ceremony, which involved idolatrous worship towards spirits who were believed to have the ability to influence the success of their harvest. The lineage of descent for the Geser-Gorom is patrilineal (tracing descent from the father). After the wedding ceremony, the new couple lives close to the husband’s family. The father acts as head of the household and as the primary breadwinner. The mother’s responsibility is to care for the children, prepare food, and clean house. The family is the foundational unit for the Geser-Gorom, and large families are considered rumah tua (old homes) and are lead by an Orang Tua (literally, “old person”). Several rumah tua merge to form a soa which is headed by a Kepala Soa (clan chief). Soa groups merge to form a settlement which is considered a negeri (country). A negeri (also called a hena) is lead by a king. He is assisted by a council of leaders called a badan saniri negeri. This council is made up of the cultural leader, the soa leaders, a leader for land disputes and inheritance (tuan tanah), a leader for defense (kewang), and a news herald (marinyo). However, this system of leadership has been slowly declining ever since the Japanese occupation in World War II.
The Geser-Gorom have embraced the religion of Islam.
Huaulu 300 Animism
northwest of Manusela. 10 villages. Alternate names: Alakamat, Bahasa Asli. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 64%–72% with Manusela [wha] dialects.
Hulung 10
west Seram, Hulung village, Sauweli hamlet. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 67% with Lisabata-Nuniali [lcs], 66% with Naka’ela [nae] and South Wemale [tlw], 63% with Alune [alp], 59% with North Wemale [weo].
Horuru 4.240 Islam
Central Maluku, Seram. Dialects: Hulung [huk] may be related. Horuru may be alternate name for another language.

Hoti 10

Central Maluku, east Seram
Kaibobo 500
west Seram, Piru Bay, Kairatu District, Kaibobo, Hatusua, Waisamu, Kamarian, Seruawan, Tihulale villages. Alternate names: Kaibubu. Dialects: Kaibobo, Hatusua. Related to Lisabata-Nuniali [lcs]. Lexical similarity: 82%–88% between Kaibobo and Hatusua dialect, 75% with Kamarian [kzx], 62%–65% with Saparua [spr], 62% with Piru [ppr], 58%–62% with Luhu [lcq], 61% with Naka’ela [nae].
Kamarian 6.000
west Seram, east end of Piru Bay, Kamarian village on south coast. Alternate names: Kamariang, Seruawan. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 75% with Kaibobo [kzb], 67% with Saparua [spr], 60% with Lisabata-Nuniali [lcs], 59% with Amahai [amq], Piru, Naka’ela [nae], and Hulung [huk].
Latu  2.130 Islam
southwest Seram Island, Elpaputih Bay, Latu village. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 82%–84% with Saparua [spr] dialects.
Liana-Seti 3.900 Christian
districts of Seram, Bula, Werinama, and Tehoru, east Teluti Bay to the north coast. 8 villages. Alternate names: Liambata-Kobi, Liana, Lianan, Teula, Uhei Kachlakan, Uhei Kaclakin, Uhei Kahlakim. Dialects: “Seti” , Wahakaim, Kobi. Lexical similarity: 66%–74% between Seti (westernmost and interior) and Wahakaim (near coast) dialects, 69%–78% between Kobi and Seti, 70% between Kobi and Wahakaim, 42%–61% between Kobi and Manusela [wha], 54%–66% between Kobi and Benggoi [bgy], 48%–58% between Kobi and Salas [sgu].
Lisabata-Nuniali 1.830 Islam
West and North Seram, spread across the north coast. 5 villages. Alternate names: Lisabata, Noniali, Nuniali. Dialects: Lisabata-Timur, Nuniali, Sukaraja, Kawa. Lexical similarity: between Kawa (far western) and Lisabata Timur (far eastern) dialects is 85%, 72% with Naka’ela [nae], 67% with Hulung [huk], 63% with Alune [alp].
Loun 20
north-central Seram.
Luhu 6.500 Islam
West Seram Island, Hoamoal Peninsula, Luhu village; Boano and Kelang islands, off of west Seram. Dialects: Luhu, Batu Merah, Kelang. Related to Manipa [mqp]. Lexical similarity: 77% with Piru [ppr], 71%–73% with Asilulu [asl].
Manipa 1.500 Islam
Manipa Island west of Seram. 4 villages. Alternate names: Soow Huhelia. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 72% with Luhu [lcq], 64% with Piru [ppr], 60%–62% with Hitu [htu], 60%–61% with Tulehu [tlu] and Asilulu [asl], 58%–61% with Seit-Kaitetu [hik], 55%–60% with Larike-Wakasihu [alo], 56% with Boano [bzn] and Kaibobo [kzb].
Manusela 7.999 Animism
north Seram, Mansuela mountains, 30 villages; south Seram along Teluti Bay. Alternate names: Wahai, Wahinama. Dialects: Kanikeh, Hatuolu, Maneo, South Manusela. Lexical similarity: 66%–74% between the Kanikeh dialect and other varieties, 67%–75% with Hatuolo, 64%–86% with Maneo, 66%–86% with Maneoratu, 67%–80% with South Manusela; 64%–72% with Huaulu [hud], 42%–61% with Liana Seti [ste], 45% with Saleman [sau].
Masiwang 1.000
Bula District, Seram Island, Waru Bay area. Alternate names: Bonfia. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 44% with Bobot [bty], 43% with Salas [sgu], 39% with Sepa [spb] and Teluti [tlt], 36% with Liana Seti [ste] and Atamanu.
Naka’ela 5
northwest Seram, Kairatu village. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 71% with Lisabata-Nuniali [lcs], 66% with Hulung [huk], 63% with Alune [alp].
Nila Serua Te’un 1.800 Christian
south central Seram Island transmigration area. 6 villages. (Originally Nila Island in south central Maluku). Dialects: Similar to Serua [srw]. Not intelligible with Teun [tve].
Nuaulu Tribe 2.500
The Nuaulu are a tribe located in Seram, Maluku, Indonesia.
The Nuaulu are divided into two groups, namely the northern and the southern groups. Numbering at a total of 2500 people, they live in the Amahai district of Central Seram. The Northern Nuaulu inhabit two villages on the north coast of central Seram Island, whilst the Southern group inhabit six villages on the south coast and interior of Amahai District.
Ethnically related to the Manusela, they are similar to the Manusela in language and follow the Naurus faith. However, they also follow Hinduism, and Hinduism is found in their rituals.
The Nuaulu ethnic group is the native society of Seram island (central Maluku). They live on a few villages in Sepa, Amahai municipal.
According to the legend, Nuaulu people came from a place called Nunusaku, that was a mountain which stood between Manusela and Piru.
The first man existed in Nunusaku was born from a rock, tree, and other natural things. Then there was a division, and some of them went to the south of Nua river upstream. From this incident then came the name of Nua (the name of the river) and Ulu (upstream).
According to the birth origin of that place, the society group who live in Nua river upstream consists of 11 Soa/clan and every soa has a chief and a traditional house for traditional ceremonies.
The role of a tribe chief is very important in every day life and in the traditional ceremonies activity.
Their life activities are started from children activities until adult and then reaching the old phase and all of those activities are colored by life cycle ceremonies according to their tradition.
Paulohi 50
Halmahera, narrow tip of southeast peninsula and west along the coast. 9 villages.
Piru 10
west Seram Island. 1 village. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 72% with Luhu [lcq].
Salas 50
Seram Island, Waru Bay, Salas Gunung village. Alternate names: Lenkaitahe, Liambata, Salas Gunung. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 48%–58% with Liana-Seti [ste], 46%–50% with Benggoi [bgy], 35%–46% with Manusela [wha].
Saleman 4.800 Islam
north central Seram. 5 villages (Saleman, Pasanea, Sawai, Besi, Wahai). Alternate names: Hatue, Sawai, Seleman, Wahai. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 64% with North Nuaulu [nni], 48% with South Nuaulu [nxl].
Sepa 2.600
Seram Island, Sepa village. Alternate names: Tamilouw. Dialects: Lexical similarity: 69%–78% with Teluti [tlt], 50% with Yalahatan [jal].
Teluti 17.000 Islam
south Seram Island, Teluti Bay. Alternate names: Silen, Taluti, Tehoru, Tihoru, Wolu. Dialects: West Teluti (Haya, Wolu, Tehoru, Tehua), Laha Serani. Lexical similarity: 74%–89% among dialects, 69%–78% with Sepa [spb], 50% with Atamanu.
Wemale North 4.930 Christian
Taniwel District along north coast, east of Taniwel, and westernmost East Seram District. 24 villages. Alternate names: Oemale. Dialects: Horale, Kasieh, Uwenpantai. Kawe [kgb] may be a dialect. Lexical similarity: between east and central dialects is 80%, 72% with South Wemale [tlw], 59% with Hulung [huk].
Wemale  South 3.730 Christian
west Seram, Kairatu, mainly interior, and Amahai District westernmost coast. 15 villages. Alternate names: Honitetu, Tala. Dialects: Dialect chain between Horale [weo], Kasieh [weo], Uwenpantai [weo], and Honitetu dialect. Kawe [kgb] may be a dialect. Lexical similarity: 80% between the Horale and Kasieh dialects of Wemale, North [weo], and between Uwenpantai dialect of Wemale, North and the Honitetu dialect, 72% with North Wemale, 66% with Hulung [huk], 47% with Yalahatan [jal].
Yalahatan 1.700
approximately 850 in each village. Central Maluku, west Seram, Yalahatan, Haruru villages. Alternate names: Atamanu, Awaiya, Jahalatan, Jahalatane. Dialects: Slight dialect differences reported between the 2 villages. Lexical similarity: 50%–52% with Sepa [spb], 49%–50% with Teluti [tlt].


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Seram Island

Seram (formerly Ceram, also called Seran or Serang) is the largest and main island of Maluku province of Indonesia, despite Ambon Island’s historical importance. It is located just north of smaller Ambon Island. The chief port/town is Masohi, the new provincial capital.

Geography and geology

Seram is traversed by a central mountain range, the highest point of which, Mount Binaiya, is covered with dense rain forests. Its remarkably complex geology is due to its location at the meeting of several tectonic microplates, that has been described as “one of the most tectonically complex areas on Earth”. Seram actually falls on its own microplate that has been twisted around by 80° in the last 8 million years by the relatively faster movement of the Papua microplate. Meanwhile, along with the northward push of the Australian Plate, this has resulted in the uplift that gives north-central Seram peaks of over 3000m.

The population of the island in the 2010 Census was 434,113 people, administered among 3 regencies, Maluku Tengah Regency had 170,392 people on Seram island itself and 191,306 on the lesser islands (majority on Ambon Island), the entirety of Seram Bagian Barat Regency and Seram Bagian Timur Regency.


Seram island is remarkable for its high degree of localised bird endemism. From the 117 species of birds on the island, 14 are endemic, including the Eclectus Parrot, Purple-naped Lory, Salmon-crested Cockatoo, Lazuli Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Grey-necked Friarbird and Moluccan King Parrot.

The mammals found on Seram include Asian species (Murid rodents) as well as Australasian marsupials. The montane area of Seram supports the greatest number of endemic mammals of any island in the region. It harbors 38 mammal species and includes nine species that are endemic or near endemic, several of which are limited to montane habitats. These include the Seram Bandicoot, Moluccan Flying Fox, Seram Flying-fox, Manusela Mosaic-tailed Rat, Spiny Ceram Rat and the Ceram Rat, all considered threatened.

Saltwater crocodiles exist within some of the island’s rivers, including the Salawai River.

In the eastern part of the island, Manusela National Park has been established in 1997, covering an area of 1,890 km² (11% of the island).


Most central Moluccans consider Seram to be their original ancestral home and it is still known colloquially as Nusa Ina (Mother Island). In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Seram was generally within the sphere of influence of Ternate, although it was often ruled more directly by the Ternaten vassal state of Buru. Portuguese missionaries were active there in the 16th century. Dutch trading posts were opened in the early 17th century, and the island came under nominal Dutch control c. 1650. In the 1780s, Seram provided a key base of support for Prince Nuku of Tidore’s long-running rebellion against Dutch rule. From 1954 until 1962 the island’s mountain terrain was the scene of an armed guerilla struggle against Indonesian rule by the counter revolutionary Republic of South Moluccas movement led by Soumokil.


Seram includes three of the regencies within the province of Maluku. West Seram (Kabupaten Seram Bagian Barat), capital at Dataran Hunipopu, had a population (2003) of 140,657; and Eastern Seram (Kabupaten Seram Bagian Timur), capital at Dataran Hunimoa, had a population (2003) of 78,336. The Central Maluku Regency (Kabupaten Maluku Tengah), with its capital at Masohi, includes the middle part of Ceram, as well as some other smaller islands.


Seram has been traditionally associated with the animism of the indigenous Alfur (or Nuaulu), a West Melanesian people who reputedly retained a custom of headhunting until the 1940s. Today, however, most of the population of Seram today is either Muslim or Christian due to both conversion and immigration. Seram was affected by the violent inter-religious conflict that swept Maluku province starting in late 1998, resulting in tens of thousands of displaced persons across the province but after the Malino II Accord agreement tempers cooled. Seram has been peaceful for many years but towns like Masohi remain informally divided into de facto Christian and Muslim sections. Around 7,000 people belonging to the Manusela tribe follow Hinduism.


Copra, resin, sago, and fish are important products. Oil is produced in the northeast near Bula by CITIC Seram Energy who took over from KUFPEC (Indonesia) Limited in 2006. The Oseil oil field is located onshore in the northeast of the island in the Seram Non-Bula Production Sharing Contract area. The discovery well was drilled in 1993. As of end 2010 the Seram Non-Bula Block had estimated proven oil reserves of 9.7 million barrels. Most production comes from the Jurassic Manusela carbonate formation.

East of Seram: From Geser to Teur

A scattering of tiny, mainly Muslim islands stretching from the eastern tip of Seram towards the Keis form Central Maluku’s most remote and least accessible corner. None of these islands has played a significant role in history, none have any outstanding attractions, and they offer almost no facilities to visitors whatsoever. To tour them you will need lots of time, a knowledge of Indonesian, and a high tolerance of filthy, overcrowded Perintis ships.

Attractions Off the Track Getting There Accommodation
Main Attractions



Geser is a tiny atoll island at the eastern tip of Seram. It is nevertheless an important, historic trade centre of the region. It is a very quaint place with an old-fashioned feel to the town, and decent beaches right on the atoll, however it is best used as a base for exploring the neighbouring Seram Laut islands and eastern Seram itself.

Off the Beaten Track

Seram Laut Islands

The Seram Laut Islands just east of Geser are a bit larger and hillier than the atoll with which they share the same language and culture. They are also inhabited, but less crowded, and have some very beautiful beaches.

Gorom Islands

Southeast of Geser and Seram Laut, the three main islands of the Gorom archipelago share the same language and culture with them – all Muslims here, too. This is another area to find fine beaches well off the beaten track. The main island, at least around its main settlement, was somewhat underwhelming though, so you must be prepared to go a bit further than that. Its only attraction was an unusual army monument, and a surprisingly good selection of shops for these remote parts.


Watubela Islands

On the border of Central and Southeast Maluku, the remote Watubelas, consisting of inhabited Kesui, Teur and Watubela islands and a few smaller uninhabited ones, hit the world headlines during the years of the conflict. Today they are as peaceful and quiet as any in Maluku.

Getting There and Around

By sea

Apart from a small Pelni ship that is scheduled to stop at Geser between Ambon and East Seram fortnightly, only Perintis ships call at these islands (well, at some of them!) between Ambon and the Keis or Papua As usual, they run on unpredictable schedules and are crowded and filthy. Once you have been dropped at a tiny port here, be prepared to have to wait for a long time for another ship to come by. Getting from one island to another is a matter of luck or money – you may manage to share a ride with locals heading your way, or you may have to charter your own boat.

By road

None of these islands have any roads worth speaking of.

The only formal place to stay is a very simple losmen in Geser.

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