Butonese - Settlements

At the beginning of the twentieth century appoximately 50 percent of the settlements counted less than 500 inhabitants, 35 percent between 500 and 1,000, and 15 percent more than 1,000 inhabitants. The residence pattern was either very concentrated or very dispersed. Both types were the result of the threat of attacks of pirates who ravaged the islands of the sultanate. Many villages, especially on the east coast of Buton and on the Tukangbesi Islands, were strongholds with thick and high stone walls around the settlement. Even a village like Rongi, in the center of the southern part of Buton and 30 kilometers from the coast, was a real stronghold. Villagers unable to build a fortress on a hill lived in a very dispersed way so as not to attract the attention of pirates, or to make it difficult for pirates to surprise a whole village. The colonial government and the Indonesian government tried to consolidate and concentrate the villages. In 1980 50 percent of the villages in the kabupaten of Buton had between 1,000 and 2,000 inhabitants, 32 percent less than 1,000, and 18 percent more than 2,000 inhabitants. In the kabupaten of Muna the percentages were respectively 63, 17, and 20. Baubau, the capital of Buton, had 17,879 inhabitants and Raha, the capital of Muna, 13,593 inhabitants. The houses in the villages on the islands are raised off the ground about 1.5 meters and are often sturdily built with balks and planks, a few windows, and a roof of small planks, atap (sago palm leaves), or corrugated iron.

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