|at least 401,800|
|Regions with significant populations|
(Sabah, Sarawak) 401,800
(Sulu Archipelago, Zamboanga Peninsula, Mindanao)
|Related ethnic groups|
The Bajau, (also written as Badjao, Badjaw or Badjau) are an indigenous ethnic group of Malaysia and the southern Philippines. Although native to the southern Philippines, due to escalated conflicts in the Sulu Archipelago in the southern part of the country, many of the Bajau had migrated to neighboring Malaysia over the course of 50 years, where currently they are the second largest ethnic group in the state of Sabah, making up 13.4% of the total population. Groups of Bajau had also migrated to Sulawesi and Kalimantan in Indonesia, although figures of their exact population are unknown. They were sometimes referred to as the Sea Gypsies, although the term has been used to encompass a number of non-related ethnic groups with similar traditional lifestyles, such as the Moken of the Burmese-Thai Mergui Archipelago and the Orang Laut of southeastern Sumatra and the Riau Islands of Indonesia. The modern outward spread of the Bajau from older inhabited areas seems to have been associated with the development of sea trade in trepang.
Like the term Kadazan-dusun, Bajau is a collective term, used to describe several closely related indigenous groups. These Bajau groups also blend culturally with the Sama peoples into what is most properly called the Sama-Bajau people. Historically the term "Sama" was used to describe the more land-oriented and settled Sama-Bajau groups, while "Bajau" was used to describe the more sea-oriented, boat-dwelling, nomadic groups. Even these distinctions are fading as the majority of Bajaus have long since abandoned boat living, most for Sama-style piling houses in the coastal shallows. Today, the greatest feature distinguishing "Bajaus" from "Samas" is their poverty.
The Sama-Bajau peoples speak some ten languages of the Sama-Bajau subgroup of the Western Malayo-Polynesian language family. 
The origin of the word Bajau is not clear cut. Although it is generally accepted that these groups of people can be termed Bajau, these groups never call themselves Bajau. They call themselves with the names of their tribes that are mostly the names of the places of where they live. They accept the term because they realise that they share some vocabulary and general genetic characteristic such as in having darker skin, although the Simunuls appear to be an exception in having fairer skin.
British administrators in Sabah, labelled the Samah as Bajau and put Bajau in their birth certificates as their race. During Malaysia, some have started labelling their races as their ancestors call themselves, such as Simunul. For political reasons and to ensure easy access to the Malaysian special privileges granted to Malays, many have started calling themselves Malay. This is especially true for recent Filipino migrants.
For most of their history, the Bajau have been a nomadic, seafaring people, living off the sea by trading and subsistence fishing. The boat dwelling Bajau see themselves as non-aggressive people. They kept close to shore by erecting houses on stilts, and traveled using lepa-lepa, handmade boats which many lived in. Although historically originating from the southern Philippine coasts, Sabahan Sama legend narrates that they had originated from members of the royal guard of the Sultan of Johor, after the fall of the Malay Malacca empire, who settled along the east coast of Borneo after being driven there by storms. Another version narrates that they were escorting the Sultan's bride, but the bride was later kidnapped by the Sultan of Brunei. The fact that the Bajau-Sama languages belong to the Philippine branch of Malayo-Polynesian languages would substantiate the anthropological origins of the Bajau groups to be from the Philippines, and put the origin legends down to the hisrotic Malay-centric influence of Bajau culture.
However, there are traces of trails that Samah people was came from Riau Archipelago especially Lingga Island more than 300 years ago. It was believes that migration process of Samah to North West Borneo took place more than 100 years timeliness, starting from normal trading exchange with the Empire of Brunei, part of bride sent from Johor to Sulu was kidnapped by Prince of Brunei then the fall of legitimate Sultan of Johor after overthrown by Bugis immigrant(Samah people fled to west coast of North Borneo where they feel save to live under the protection of Brunei Sultanate). That's why native Kadazan-Dusun call Samah people as "tuhun(people of) Samah" or "tulun(people of) Samah" in their dialects, the form of recognition before western civilisation found Borneo. It was believed Samah people was not from royal member of Sultan, but a loyal workers, craftsmen, boat builders and farmers that fled from cruelty of ethnic cleansing in chaotic Johor during aggression of Bugis taking over the thrown of Johor.
Currently, there exists a huge settlement of Filipino Bajau in Pulau Gaya, off the Sabah coast. Many of them are illegal immigrants on the Malaysian island. With the island as a base, they frequently enter Sabah and find jobs as manual labourers.
Commonly, many sub-groups of Bajau are named after the place or island they live-in for many years. Even though they are called Bajau, each sub-groups has their own unique language, cultures and tradition. However, certain sub-groups are able to understand the languages of other sub-groups and races. For example, some Bajau understand the Bajau Ubian language, and the Bajau Ubian and Simunul in Sabah are able to understand and speak the Tausug language called the Suluk language in Sabah.
Lists of Bajau sub-groups:
For more lists, refer to BahasaSama
Claims to religious piety and learning are an important source of individual prestige among the coastal Bajau, and the title of salip/sarip (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad) are shown special honour in the local community. Some of the Bajau lack mosques and must rely on the shore-based communities such as those of the more Islamized Tausug or Malay peoples. The Ubian Bajau, due to their nomadic marine lifestyle, are much less adherent to orthodox Islam, and practice more of a folk hybrid, revering local sea spirits, known in Islamic terminology as Jinn.
The Bajau people are also well known for weaving and needlework skills.
In Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia, the Bajau groups perform the Tausug's dance, Daling-Daling, either in Suluk or their own native languages. They also invented their own dance called Igal-igal, based on the Daling-daling moves and costumes. In fact it has become the dance of choice for wedding ceremonies for native communities in Semporna and has spread to Sandakan. By the year 2000, among the Suluk and Bajau communities, this dance, also simply called Daling-daling, tend to be included with the Joget dances at wedding ceremonies at night. This is helped by the production of Music Videos of the Daling-daling songs and dances.
In Sarawak there are a number of Iban named Bajau (Beransah Bajau, Hillary Bajau)
Many Bajaus of the east coast retain their seaborne lifestyle, together with remnants of traditional pre-Islamic beliefs. An example of this is the offering of thanks to the Omboh Dilaut, the God of the Sea, whenever a particularly large catch is brought in. The east coast Sabah Bajau are also famous for the annual Semporna Regatta.
Among the boat-dwellers in particular, community spirit mediums are consulted at least once a year for a public séance and nightly trance dancing. In times of epidemics, the mediums are also called upon to remove illness causing spirits from the community. They do this by setting a "spirit boat" adrift in the open sea beyond the village or anchorage.
Bajau fishers make use of wooden sailing vessels known as perahu lambo for voyages to the Timor and Arafura seas. The construction and launch of these craft are ritualized, and the vessels are believe to have a spirit (Sumangaq). Under a 1974 Memorandum of Understanding, "Indonesian traditional fishermen" are allowed to fish within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Australia, which includes traditional fishing grounds of Bajau fishers. However, fishing in these areas has led to concern about overfishing and destruction of Bajau vessels.
First Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of Sabah and third Chief Minister of Sabah
Chief Minister of Sabah and Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of Sabah from Kota Belud
Chief Minister of Sabah from Kota Belud
Chief Minister of Sabah and Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of Sabah from Semporna
Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of Sabah from Inanam
Sabah Politician from Semporna
Chief Minister of Sabah from Papar
Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Parliament of Malaysia
Malaysian singer and actor, grandson of Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah.
Malaysian singer and One in a Million (Season 2) champion
Third member of the Bajau family represented in Portugal.