Not to be confused with Mambai language (Cameroon), Mambaí, or Mumbai.
Region East Timor
Native speakers
130,000 (2010 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mgm
Glottolog mamb1306[2]

Distribution of Mambai mother-tongue speakers in East Timor
Typical Mambai house in Northern Ainaro.

The Mambai (also Mambae, Manbae) are the second largest ethnic group in East Timor. Their language is also called Mambai (or Mambae, Manbae).


The Mambai number about 80,000[3] from the interior of Dili District to the south coast of the territory, especially in the districts of Ainaro and Manufahi. Circular houses with conical roofs are typical dwellings,[4] and the Mambai cultivate maize, rice, and root vegetables.[3]

Ethnically Mambai politicians include Francisco Xavier do Amaral,[5] Manuel Tilman,[6] Lúcia Lobato,[7] and Fernando de Araújo.[7]


  1. Mambai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Mambae". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 Clifford Sather and James J. Fox (eds), Origins, Ancestry and Alliance: Explorations in Austronesian Ethnography, ANU E Press, 2006, Chapter 7.
  4. Tony Wheeler, East Timor, Lonely Planet, 2004, p. 93.
  5. Asian survey, University of California Press, 2003, Volume 43, Issues 4-6, p. 754
  6. International Crisis Group, Asia Briefing N°65, 13 June 2007
  7. 1 2 East Timor Legal Information Site, 2007

Further reading



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