The Toraja are an ethnic groupindigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their population is approximately 650,000, of which 450,000 still live in the regency of Tana Toraja ("Land of Toraja"). Most of the population is Christian, and others are Muslim or have local animist beliefs known as aluk ("the way"). The Indonesian government has recognized this animist belief as Aluk To Dolo ("Way of the Ancestors").
The word toraja comes from the Bugislanguage'sto riaja, meaning "people of the uplands". The Dutch colonial government named the people Toraja in 1909. Torajans are renowned for their elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs, massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as tongkonan, and colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several days.
Before the 20th century, Torajans lived in autonomous villages, where they practised animism and were relatively untouched by the outside world. In the early 1900s, Dutch missionaries first worked to convert Torajan highlanders to Christianity. When the Tana Toraja regency was further opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it became an icon of tourism in Indonesia: it was exploited by tourism developers and studied by anthropologists. By the 1990s, when tourism peaked, Toraja society had changed significantly, from an agrarian model — in which social life and customs were outgrowths of the Aluk To Dolo—to a largely Christian society.
The population of Indonesia according to the 2010 national census is 237.6 million, with 58% living on the island of Java, the world's most populous island.
Despite a fairly effective family planning program that has been in place since the 1960s, the population is expected to grow to around 262 million by 2020 and 293 million by 2050, falling to sixth behind Nigeria and Pakistan sometime before 2070.
Indonesia includes numerous ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups, some of which are related to each other. Since independence, Indonesian (a form of Malay and official national language) is the language of most written communication, education, government, and business. Many local ethnic languages are the first language of most Indonesians and still important.