Sumatra

Sumatra

Overview
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, westernmost of the Sunda Islands
Sunda Islands
The Sunda Islands are a group of islands that form part of the Malay archipelago.They are further divided into the Greater Sunda Islands and the Lesser Sunda Islands.-Administration:...

. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia (two larger islands, Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

 and New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

, are shared between Indonesia and other countries), and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538. Its biggest city is Medan
Medan
- Demography :The city is Indonesia's fourth most populous after Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, and Indonesia's largest city outside of Java island. Much of the population lies outside its city limits, especially in Deli Serdang....

 with a population of 2,109,330.

Settler colonies were arriving in Sumatra in 500 BC and several significant kingdoms flourished there.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Sumatra'
Start a new discussion about 'Sumatra'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, westernmost of the Sunda Islands
Sunda Islands
The Sunda Islands are a group of islands that form part of the Malay archipelago.They are further divided into the Greater Sunda Islands and the Lesser Sunda Islands.-Administration:...

. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia (two larger islands, Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

 and New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

, are shared between Indonesia and other countries), and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538. Its biggest city is Medan
Medan
- Demography :The city is Indonesia's fourth most populous after Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, and Indonesia's largest city outside of Java island. Much of the population lies outside its city limits, especially in Deli Serdang....

 with a population of 2,109,330.

Settler colonies were arriving in Sumatra in 500 BC and several significant kingdoms flourished there. I Ching
I Ching (monk)
Yijing was a Tang Dynasty Chinese Buddhist monk, originally named Zhang Wenming . The written records of his travels contributed to the world knowledge of the ancient kingdom of Srivijaya, as well as providing information about the other kingdoms lying on the route between China and the Nālandā...

, a Chinese Buddhist monk, studied Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and spent four years of his life working in Palembang
Palembang
Palembang is the capital city of the South Sumatra province in Indonesia. Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, and has a history of being a capital of a maritime empire. Located on the Musi River banks on the east coast of southern Sumatra island, it has an area of 400.61 square...

. The explorer Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 also visited Sumatra in 1292.

Sumatra has a huge range of plant and animal species but has lost almost 50% of its tropical rainforest in the last 35 years and many species are Critically Endangered
Critically Endangered
Critically Endangered is the highest risk category assigned by the IUCN Red List for wild species. Critically Endangered means that a species' numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations....

 such as Sumatran Tiger
Sumatran Tiger
The Sumatran tiger is a tiger subspecies that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra and has been classified as critically endangered by IUCN in 2008 as the population is projected at 176 to 271 mature individuals, with no subpopulation having an effective population size larger than 50...

, Sumatran Rhino and Sumatran Orangutan
Sumatran Orangutan
The Sumatran orangutan is one of the two species of orangutans. Found only on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, it is rarer and smaller than the Bornean orangutan. The Sumatran orangutan grows to about tall and in males...

.

87% of Sumatrans are thought to be Muslim. The island is home to 22% of total population of Indonesia.

Etymology


Sumatra was known in ancient times by the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 names of Swarnadwīpa ("Island of Gold") and Swarnabhūmi ("Land of Gold"), due likely to the gold deposits of the island's highland
Highland (geography)
The term highland or upland is used to denote any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, the term upland tends to be used for ranges of hills, typically up to 500-600m, and highland for ranges of low mountains.The Scottish Highlands refers to the mountainous...

. The first word mentioning the name of Sumatra was the name of Srivijaya
Srivijaya
Srivijaya was a powerful ancient thalassocratic Malay empire based on the island of Sumatra, modern day Indonesia, which influenced much of Southeast Asia. The earliest solid proof of its existence dates from the 7th century; a Chinese monk, I-Tsing, wrote that he visited Srivijaya in 671 for 6...

n Haji (king) Sumatrabhumi ("King of the land of Sumatra"), who sent an envoy to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 in 1017. Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 geographers referred to the island as Lamri (Lamuri, Lambri or Ramni) in the 10-13th centuries, in reference to a kingdom near modern day Banda Aceh
Banda Aceh
Banda Aceh is the provincial capital and largest city in the province of Aceh, Indonesia, located on the island of Sumatra, with an elevation of 35 meters. The city regency covers an area of 64 square kilometres and according to the 2000 census had a population of 219,070 people...

 which was the first landfall for traders.

Late in the 14th century the name Sumatra became popular, in reference to the kingdom of Samudra Pasai
Pasai
Pasai, also known as Samudera and Samudera-Pasai sometimes called Samudera Darussalam was a Muslim harbour kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra from the 13th to the 15th centuries CE. It was believed the word Samudera derived from Samudra meaning ocean in Sanskrit...

, which was a rising power, until it was replaced by Sultanate of Aceh. Sultan Alauddin Shah of Aceh, on letters written in 1602 addressed to Queen Elizabeth I of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

, referred himself as "king of Aceh and Samudra". The word itself is from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 "Samudra
Samudra
Samudra is a Sanskrit term for "ocean", literally the "gathering together of waters" Samudra is a Sanskrit term for "ocean", literally the "gathering together of waters" Samudra is a Sanskrit term for "ocean", literally the "gathering together of waters" (- meaning "together" and -udra meaning...

", (समुद्र), meaning "gathering together of waters, sea or ocean".

After the coming of Islam to the archipelago in 13th century, the island is also called by muslim travellers as Andalas, derived from Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

, to mirror the thriving Islamic kingdoms of Sumatra in extreme east of Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...

 to Muslim Spain in extreme west. Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an writers in the 19th century found that the indigenous inhabitants did not have a name for the island.

History


People who spoke Austronesian languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

 first arrived in Sumatra around 500 BCE, as part of the Austronesian expansion from Taiwan to Southeast Asia. With its location in the India-China sea trade route, several trading towns flourished, especially in the eastern coast, and were influenced by Indian religions. One of the earliest known kingdoms was Kantoli
Kantoli
Kantoli was an ancient kingdom suspected to be located somewhere between Jambi and Palembang in southern Sumatra around the 5th century of the common era. Chinese records indicate that "Sanfotsi was formerly called Kantoli" and this as well as the location of the kingdom have led historians to...

, which flourished in the 5th century CE in southern Sumatra. Kantoli was replaced by the Empire of Srivijaya
Srivijaya
Srivijaya was a powerful ancient thalassocratic Malay empire based on the island of Sumatra, modern day Indonesia, which influenced much of Southeast Asia. The earliest solid proof of its existence dates from the 7th century; a Chinese monk, I-Tsing, wrote that he visited Srivijaya in 671 for 6...

 and then later by the Kingdom of Samudra
Pasai
Pasai, also known as Samudera and Samudera-Pasai sometimes called Samudera Darussalam was a Muslim harbour kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra from the 13th to the 15th centuries CE. It was believed the word Samudera derived from Samudra meaning ocean in Sanskrit...

. Srivijaya was a Buddhist monarchy centred in what is now Palembang
Palembang
Palembang is the capital city of the South Sumatra province in Indonesia. Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, and has a history of being a capital of a maritime empire. Located on the Musi River banks on the east coast of southern Sumatra island, it has an area of 400.61 square...

. Dominating the region through trade and conquest throughout the 7th to 9th centuries, the Empire helped spread the Malay culture throughout Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, and western Borneo. The empire was a thalassocracy
Thalassocracy
The term thalassocracy refers to a state with primarily maritime realms—an empire at sea, such as Athens or the Phoenician network of merchant cities...

, or maritime power that extended its influence from island to island. Palembang was a center for scholarly learning, and it was there the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim I Ching
I Ching (monk)
Yijing was a Tang Dynasty Chinese Buddhist monk, originally named Zhang Wenming . The written records of his travels contributed to the world knowledge of the ancient kingdom of Srivijaya, as well as providing information about the other kingdoms lying on the route between China and the Nālandā...

 studied Sanskrit in 671 CE before departing for India. On his journey to China he spent four years in Palembang translating Buddhist texts and writing two manuscripts.
Srivijayan influence waned in the 11th century after it was defeated by the Chola Empire of southern India. Sumatra was then subject to conquests from Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

nese kingdoms, first Singhasari
Singhasari
Singhasari was a kingdom located in east Java between 1222 and 1292. The kingdom succeeded Kingdom of Kediri as the dominant kingdom in eastern Java.-Foundation:...

 and subsequently Majapahit. At the same time Islam made its way to Sumatra through Arabs and Indian traders in the 6th and 7th centuries AD. By the late 13th century, the monarch of the Samudra
Pasai
Pasai, also known as Samudera and Samudera-Pasai sometimes called Samudera Darussalam was a Muslim harbour kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra from the 13th to the 15th centuries CE. It was believed the word Samudera derived from Samudra meaning ocean in Sanskrit...

 kingdom had converted to Islam. Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 visited the island in 1292 and Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta , or simply Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad–Din , was a Muslim Moroccan Berber explorer, known for his extensive travels published in the Rihla...

 visited twice during 1345–1346. Samudra was succeeded by the powerful Aceh Sultanate
Aceh Sultanate
The Sultanate of Aceh, officially the Kingdom of Aceh Darussalam was a sultanate centered in the modern area of Aceh Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, which was a major regional power in the 16th and 17th centuries, before experiencing a long period of decline...

, which survived to the 20th century. With the coming of the Dutch, the many Sumatran princely states gradually fell under their control. Aceh, in the north, was the major obstacle, as the Dutch were involved in the long and costly Aceh War
Aceh War
The Aceh War, also known as the Dutch War or the Infidel War , was an armed military conflict between the Sultanate of Aceh and the Netherlands which was triggered by discussions between representatives of Aceh and the U.S. in Singapore during early 1873...

 (1873–1903).

Sumatra came under the control of the Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

 and became a major producer of pepper, rubber, and oil. In the early and mid-twentieth century, Sumatran academics and leaders were important figures in Indonesia's independence movements
Indonesian National Revolution
The Indonesian National Revolution or Indonesian War of Independence was an armed conflict and diplomatic struggle between Indonesia and the Dutch Empire, and an internal social revolution...

. The Great Sumatran fault
Great Sumatran fault
The Indonesian island of Sumatra is located in a highly seismic area of the world. In addition to the subduction zone and the associated Sunda Arc off the west coast of the island, Sumatra also has a large strike-slip fault, the so-called Great Sumatran Fault, running the entire length of the island...

, a strike-slip fault, runs the entire length of the island along its west coast. On 26 December 2004, the western coast and islands of Sumatra, particularly Aceh
Aceh
Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...

 province, were struck by a tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

 following Indian Ocean earthquake
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake...

. More than 170,000 Indonesians were killed, primarily in Aceh. Other recent earthquakes to strike Sumatra include the 2005 Sumatra Earthquake
2005 Sumatra earthquake
The 2005 Sumatra earthquake, referred to as the Nias Earthquake by the scientific community, was a major earthquake on 28 March 2005, located off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Approximately 1300 people were killed by the earthquake, mostly on the island of Nias...

, and the October 2010 Sumatra earthquake.

Administration


The administrative regions
Provinces of Indonesia
The province is the highest tier of local government subnational entity in Indonesia. Each province has its own local government, headed by a governor, and has its own legislative body...

 of Sumatra (including the smaller islands nearby) are:
  1. Aceh
    Aceh
    Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...

     (capital: Banda Aceh
    Banda Aceh
    Banda Aceh is the provincial capital and largest city in the province of Aceh, Indonesia, located on the island of Sumatra, with an elevation of 35 meters. The city regency covers an area of 64 square kilometres and according to the 2000 census had a population of 219,070 people...

    )
  2. Bangka-Belitung
    Bangka-Belitung
    Bangka–Belitung Islands is a province of Indonesia. The province includes two main islands, Bangka and Belitung, and several smaller ones that lie east of the Sumatran mainland and northeast of South Sumatra province. The Bangka Strait separates Sumatra and Bangka, and the Gaspar Strait separates...

     (capital: Pangkalpinang)
  3. Bengkulu
    Bengkulu
    Bengkulu is a province of Indonesia. It is on the southwest coast of the island of Sumatra, and borders the provinces of West Sumatra, Jambi, South Sumatra and Lampung. The capital and largest city is Bengkulu city. It was formerly the site of a British garrison, which they called Bencoolen...

     (capital: Bengkulu)
  4. Jambi (capital: Jambi
    Jambi (city)
    Jambi is a city in Indonesia, capital of Jambi province, on the island of Sumatra. The city is a busy port on the Batang Hari River and an oil- and rubber-producing centre...

    )
  5. Lampung
    Lampung
    Lampung is a province of Indonesia. It is located on the southern tip of the island of Sumatra and borders the provinces of Bengkulu and South Sumatra. Lampung is the original home of the Lampung people, who speak a distinct language from other people in Sumatra and have their own alphabet. Its...

     (capital: Bandar Lampung
    Bandar Lampung
    - External links :*...

    )
  6. Riau (capital: Pekanbaru
    Pekanbaru
    Pekanbaru is the capital of Riau, a province in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra. It has an area of 632.26 km² and a population of 903,902. Located on the Siak River, which drains to the Strait of Malacca...

    )
  7. Riau Islands (capital: Tanjung Pinang
    Tanjung Pinang
    Tanjung Pinang or Tanjungpinang is the capital and second largest city of the Indonesian province of Riau Islands after Batam. A city with about 200,000 residents) it is a trading port between islands in the Riau archipelago...

    )
  8. West Sumatra
    West Sumatra
    West Sumatra is a province of Indonesia. It lies on the west coast of the island Sumatra. It borders the provinces of North Sumatra to the north, Riau and Jambi to the east, and Bengkulu to the southeast. It includes the Mentawai Islands off the coast...

     (Sumatera Barat) (capital: Padang
    Padang, Indonesia
    Padang is the capital and largest city of West Sumatra, Indonesia. It is located on the western coast of Sumatra at . It has an area of and a population of over 833,000 people at the 2010 Census.-History:...

    )
  9. South Sumatra
    South Sumatra
    South Sumatra is a province of Indonesia.-Geography:It is on the island of Sumatra, and borders the provinces of Lampung to the south, Bengkulu to the west, and Jambi to the north...

     (Sumatera Selatan) (capital: Palembang
    Palembang
    Palembang is the capital city of the South Sumatra province in Indonesia. Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, and has a history of being a capital of a maritime empire. Located on the Musi River banks on the east coast of southern Sumatra island, it has an area of 400.61 square...

    )
  10. North Sumatra
    North Sumatra
    North Sumatra is a province of Indonesia on the Sumatra island. Its capital is Medan. It is the most populous Indonesian province outside of Java. It is slightly larger than Sri Lanka in area.- Geography and population :...

     (Sumatera Utara) (capital: Medan)

Geography



The longest axis of the island runs approximately 1790 km (1,112.3 mi) northwest–southeast, crossing the equator near the centre. At its widest point the island spans 435 km (270.3 mi). The interior of the island is dominated by two geographical regions: the Barisan Mountains
Barisan Mountains
The Bukit Barisan or the Barisan Mountains are a mountain range on the western side of Sumatra, Indonesia, covering nearly 1,700 km from the north to the south of the island. The Bukit Barisan range consists primarily of volcanoes shrouded in dense jungle cover, including Sumatran tropical pine...

 in the west and swampy plains in the east.

To the southeast is Java, separated by the Sunda Strait
Sunda Strait
The Sunda Strait is the strait between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. It connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean...

. To the north is the Malay Peninsula
Malay Peninsula
The Malay Peninsula or Thai-Malay Peninsula is a peninsula in Southeast Asia. The land mass runs approximately north-south and, at its terminus, is the southern-most point of the Asian mainland...

, separated by the Strait of Malacca
Strait of Malacca
The Strait of Malacca is a narrow, stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is named after the Malacca Sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1414 to 1511.-Extent:...

. To the east is Borneo
Borneo
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....

, across the Karimata Strait
Karimata Strait
The Karimata Strait is the wide strait that connects the South China Sea to the Java Sea, dividing the islands of Sumatra from Borneo , both in Indonesia....

. West of the island is the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

.

The backbone of the island is the Barisan mountains chain, with the active volcano Mount Kerinci
Mount Kerinci
Mount Kerinci is the highest volcano in Indonesia, and the highest peak on the island of Sumatra...

's 3,805 m (12,467 ft) the highest point, located at about the midpoint of the range. The volcanic activity of this region endowed the region with fertile land and beautiful sceneries, for instance around the Lake Toba
Lake Toba
Lake Toba is a lake and supervolcano. The lake is 100 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide, and 505 metres at its deepest point. Located in the middle of the northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra with a surface elevation of about , the lake stretches from to...

. It also contains deposits of coal and gold. The volcanic activity stems from Sumatra being on the Pacific "Ring of Fire"—which is also the reason why Sumatra has had some of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded: in 1833
1833 Sumatra earthquake
The 1833 Sumatra earthquake occurred on November 25, 1833, about 22:00 local time, with an estimated magnitude in the range Mw= 8.8–9.2. It caused a large tsunami that flooded the southwestern coast of the island. There are no reliable records of the loss of life, with the casualties being...

, 2004
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake...

, 2005
2005 Sumatra earthquake
The 2005 Sumatra earthquake, referred to as the Nias Earthquake by the scientific community, was a major earthquake on 28 March 2005, located off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Approximately 1300 people were killed by the earthquake, mostly on the island of Nias...

 and in the September 2007 Sumatra earthquakes
September 2007 Sumatra earthquakes
The September 2007 Sumatra earthquakes were a series of megathrust earthquakes that struck the Java Trench off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, three greater than magnitude 7. A series of tsunami bulletins was issued for the area...

.

To the east, big rivers carry silt from the mountain, forming the vast lowland interspersed by swamps. Even if mostly unsuitable for farming, the area is currently of great economic importance for Indonesia. It produces oil from both above and below the soil—palm oil
Oil palm
The oil palms comprise two species of the Arecaceae, or palm family. They are used in commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil. The African Oil Palm Elaeis guineensis is native to West Africa, occurring between Angola and Gambia, while the American Oil Palm Elaeis oleifera is native to...

 and petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

.

Sumatra is the largest producer of Indonesian coffee
Indonesian coffee
Indonesia is currently the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world. Coffee in Indonesia began with its colonial history, and has played an important part in the growth of the country. Indonesia is located within an ideal geography for coffee plantations...

. Small-holders grow Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica
Coffea arabica
Coffea arabica is a species of Coffea originally indigenous to the mountains of Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula, hence its name, and also from the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia and southeastern Sudan. It is also known as the "coffee shrub of Arabia", "mountain coffee" or "arabica coffee"...

) in the highlands, while Robusta (Coffea canephora
Coffea canephora
Robusta coffee is a variety of coffee which has its origins in central and western sub-Saharan Africa. It is a species of flowering plant in the Rubiaceae family. Though widely known as Coffea robusta, the plant is scientifically identified as Coffea canephora, which has two main varieties -...

) is found in the low lands. Arabica coffee from the regions of Gayo, Lintong and Sidikilang is typically processed using the Giling Basah
Giling Basah
Giling Basah is a term used by Indonesian coffee processors to describe the method they use to remove the hulls of Coffea arabica. Literally translated from Indonesian, the term means "wet grinding"...

 (wet hulling) technique, which gives it a heavy body and low acidity.

Most of Sumatra used to be covered by tropical rainforest
Tropical rainforest
A tropical rainforest is an ecosystem type that occurs roughly within the latitudes 28 degrees north or south of the equator . This ecosystem experiences high average temperatures and a significant amount of rainfall...

, but economic development coupled with corruption and illegal logging has severely threatened its existence. Even designated conservation areas have not been spared from this destruction.

The island is the world's 5th highest island, and the third highest in the Indonesian archipelago.

Largest cities


The largest urban areas in Sumatra by population, based on 2009 calculations compiled by The World Gazetteer, are:
Rank City, province Population
1 Medan
Medan
- Demography :The city is Indonesia's fourth most populous after Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, and Indonesia's largest city outside of Java island. Much of the population lies outside its city limits, especially in Deli Serdang....

, North Sumatra
North Sumatra
North Sumatra is a province of Indonesia on the Sumatra island. Its capital is Medan. It is the most populous Indonesian province outside of Java. It is slightly larger than Sri Lanka in area.- Geography and population :...

1,770,000
2 Palembang
Palembang
Palembang is the capital city of the South Sumatra province in Indonesia. Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, and has a history of being a capital of a maritime empire. Located on the Musi River banks on the east coast of southern Sumatra island, it has an area of 400.61 square...

, South Sumatra
South Sumatra
South Sumatra is a province of Indonesia.-Geography:It is on the island of Sumatra, and borders the provinces of Lampung to the south, Bengkulu to the west, and Jambi to the north...

1,277,000
3 Padang
Padang, Indonesia
Padang is the capital and largest city of West Sumatra, Indonesia. It is located on the western coast of Sumatra at . It has an area of and a population of over 833,000 people at the 2010 Census.-History:...

, West Sumatra
West Sumatra
West Sumatra is a province of Indonesia. It lies on the west coast of the island Sumatra. It borders the provinces of North Sumatra to the north, Riau and Jambi to the east, and Bengkulu to the southeast. It includes the Mentawai Islands off the coast...

986,000
4 Bandar Lampung
Bandar Lampung
- External links :*...

, Lampung
Lampung
Lampung is a province of Indonesia. It is located on the southern tip of the island of Sumatra and borders the provinces of Bengkulu and South Sumatra. Lampung is the original home of the Lampung people, who speak a distinct language from other people in Sumatra and have their own alphabet. Its...

940,000
5 Pekanbaru
Pekanbaru
Pekanbaru is the capital of Riau, a province in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra. It has an area of 632.26 km² and a population of 903,902. Located on the Siak River, which drains to the Strait of Malacca...

, Riau
796,000
6 Jambi
Jambi (city)
Jambi is a city in Indonesia, capital of Jambi province, on the island of Sumatra. The city is a busy port on the Batang Hari River and an oil- and rubber-producing centre...

, Jambi
457,000
7 Bengkulu, Bengkulu
Bengkulu
Bengkulu is a province of Indonesia. It is on the southwest coast of the island of Sumatra, and borders the provinces of West Sumatra, Jambi, South Sumatra and Lampung. The capital and largest city is Bengkulu city. It was formerly the site of a British garrison, which they called Bencoolen...

386,000
8 Banda Aceh
Banda Aceh
Banda Aceh is the provincial capital and largest city in the province of Aceh, Indonesia, located on the island of Sumatra, with an elevation of 35 meters. The city regency covers an area of 64 square kilometres and according to the 2000 census had a population of 219,070 people...

, Aceh
Aceh
Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...

295,000
9 Pematang Siantar
Pematang Siantar
Pematangsiantar is an independent city in North Sumatera, Indonesia, surrounded by, but not part of, the Simalungun Regency...

, North Sumatra
North Sumatra
North Sumatra is a province of Indonesia on the Sumatra island. Its capital is Medan. It is the most populous Indonesian province outside of Java. It is slightly larger than Sri Lanka in area.- Geography and population :...

205,000
10 Lubuklinggau
Lubuklinggau
Lubuklinggau is a city in South Sumatra, Indonesia. It has an area of 401.50 km² and a population of 167,138.- External links :...

, South Sumatra
South Sumatra
South Sumatra is a province of Indonesia.-Geography:It is on the island of Sumatra, and borders the provinces of Lampung to the south, Bengkulu to the west, and Jambi to the north...

201,000

Flora and fauna



Sumatra supports a wide range of vegetation types which are home to a rich variety of species, including 17 endemic genera of plants. Unique species include the Sumatran Pine
Sumatran Pine
Pinus merkusii, the Sumatran Pine, is a pine native to the Malesia region of southeast Asia, mainly in Indonesia in the mountains of northern Sumatra, and with two outlying populations in central Sumatra on Mount Kerinci and Mount Talang, and in the Philippines on Mindoro and in the Zambales...

 which dominates the Sumatran tropical pine forests
Sumatran tropical pine forests
The Sumatran tropical pine forests is a subtropical coniferous forest ecoregion on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.-Location and description:...

 of the higher mountainsides in the north of the island and rainforest plants such as Rafflesia arnoldii
Rafflesia arnoldii
Rafflesia arnoldii is a member of the genus Rafflesia. It is noted for producing the largest individual flower on earth, and a strong odor of decaying flesh - the latter point earning it the nickname of "corpse flower". It is an endemic plant that occurs only in the rainforest of Bengkulu and...

(the world's largest individual flower), and the titan arum
Titan arum
The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world...

 (the world's largest unbranched inflorescence
Inflorescence
An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches. Strictly, it is the part of the shoot of seed plants where flowers are formed and which is accordingly modified...

).

The island is home to 201 mammal species and 580 bird species. There are 9 endemic mammal species on mainland Sumatra and 14 more endemic to the nearby Mentawai Islands
Mentawai Islands
The Mentawai Islands are a chain of about seventy islands and islets off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. Siberut is the largest of the islands. The other major islands are Sipura, North Pagai and South Pagai . The islands lie approximately 150 km off the Sumatran coast, across the...

. The species present include: Sumatran Tiger
Sumatran Tiger
The Sumatran tiger is a tiger subspecies that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra and has been classified as critically endangered by IUCN in 2008 as the population is projected at 176 to 271 mature individuals, with no subpopulation having an effective population size larger than 50...

, Sumatran Orangutan
Sumatran Orangutan
The Sumatran orangutan is one of the two species of orangutans. Found only on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, it is rarer and smaller than the Bornean orangutan. The Sumatran orangutan grows to about tall and in males...

, Sumatran Rhinoceros
Sumatran Rhinoceros
The Sumatran Rhinoceros is a member of the family Rhinocerotidae and one of five extant rhinoceroses. It is the only extant species of the genus Dicerorhinus. It is the smallest rhinoceros, although is still a large mammal. This rhino stands high at the shoulder, with a head-and-body length of ...

, Sumatran Elephant
Sumatran Elephant
The Sumatran Elephant is one of three recognized subspecies of the Asian Elephant, and native to Sumatra island of Indonesia. Since 1986, Elephas maximus has been listed as endangered by IUCN as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years...

, Sumatran Striped Rabbit
Sumatran Striped Rabbit
The Sumatran Striped Rabbit , also known as the Sumatra Short-eared Rabbit or Sumatran Rabbit, is a rabbit found only in forest in the Barisan Mountains in western Sumatra, Indonesia...

, Dhole
Dhole
The dhole is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is the only extant member of the genus Cuon, which differs from Canis by the reduced number of molars and greater number of teats...

, Dayak Fruit Bat
Dayak Fruit Bat
The Dayak fruit bat or Dyak fruit bat is a relatively rare frugivorous megabat species found only on the Sunda Shelf of southeast Asia, specifically the Malay Peninsula south of the Isthmus of Kra, and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. There are three species in the genus Dyacopterus: D....

, Malayan Tapir
Malayan Tapir
The Malayan Tapir , also called the Asian Tapir, is the largest of the four species of tapir and the only one native to Asia. The scientific name refers to the East Indies, the species' natural habitat...

, Malayan Sun Bear
Sun Bear
The sun bear , sometimes known as the honey bear, is a bear found primarily in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia; North-East India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Southern China, Peninsular Malaysia, and the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.-Description:The sun bear...

 and the Bornean Clouded Leopard
Bornean Clouded Leopard
The Sunda clouded leopard , also known as the Sundaland clouded leopard and is a medium-sized wild cat found in Borneo and Sumatra...

.

The island has lost 48% of its natural forest cover since 1985, and many of the remaining species are endangered. The Sumatran Tiger
Sumatran Tiger
The Sumatran tiger is a tiger subspecies that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra and has been classified as critically endangered by IUCN in 2008 as the population is projected at 176 to 271 mature individuals, with no subpopulation having an effective population size larger than 50...

, Sumatran Rhino, and Sumatran Orangutan
Sumatran Orangutan
The Sumatran orangutan is one of the two species of orangutans. Found only on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, it is rarer and smaller than the Bornean orangutan. The Sumatran orangutan grows to about tall and in males...

 are all Critically Endangered
Critically Endangered
Critically Endangered is the highest risk category assigned by the IUCN Red List for wild species. Critically Endangered means that a species' numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations....

, indicating that the highest level of threat to their survival. In October 2008, the Indonesian government announced a plan to protect Sumatra's remaining forests. However, the construction of illegal roads through prime tiger
Sumatran Tiger
The Sumatran tiger is a tiger subspecies that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra and has been classified as critically endangered by IUCN in 2008 as the population is projected at 176 to 271 mature individuals, with no subpopulation having an effective population size larger than 50...

 habitat has continued since then by companies led by Asia Pulp & Paper
Asia Pulp & Paper
Asia Pulp & Paper, also known in the paper industry as APP is based in Singapore, is one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world. It was founded by Eka Cipta Widjaja, who had significant ties to the Suharto ruling family in Indonesia. APP claims to obtain 80-90% of the fiber for...

, the pulp and paper company well known for illegal logging and breaching environmental law.

The island includes more than 10 National Parks, including 3 which are listed as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. It comprises three Indonesian national parks on the island of Sumatra: Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park...

World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

Gunung Leuser National Park
Gunung Leuser National Park
Gunung Leuser National Park is a national park covering 7,927 km² in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, straddling the border of North Sumatra and Aceh provinces. The national park, named after Mount Leuser , protects a wide range of ecosystems. An orangutan sanctuary of Bukit Lawang is located inside...

, Kerinci Seblat National Park
Kerinci Seblat National Park
Kerinci Seblat National Park is the largest national park in Sumatra Indonesia. It has a total area of 13,791 km2, and spans four provinces: West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu and South Sumatra....

 and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is a national park in Sumatra, Indonesia. The park has a total area of 3,568 km², and spans three provinces: Lampung, Bengkulu, and South Sumatra...

. The Berbak National Park
Berbak National Park
The Berbak National Park in Sumatra island, Jambi province of Indonesia, forms part of the largest undisturbed swamp forest in southeastern Asia, and the peat swamp forest with the greatest number of palm species...

 is one of three National Parks in Indonesia listed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention
Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural,...

.

Demographics


Sumatra is not very densely populated, about 96 people per km2—more than 45 million people in total. It is nonetheless the fourth most populous island in the world. The most populous regions include most of North Sumatra and central highlands in West Sumatra, while the major urban centers are Medan
Medan
- Demography :The city is Indonesia's fourth most populous after Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, and Indonesia's largest city outside of Java island. Much of the population lies outside its city limits, especially in Deli Serdang....

 and Palembang
Palembang
Palembang is the capital city of the South Sumatra province in Indonesia. Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, and has a history of being a capital of a maritime empire. Located on the Musi River banks on the east coast of southern Sumatra island, it has an area of 400.61 square...

.

The people represent many different ethnic groups, speaking 52 different languages. Most of these groups, however, share many similar traditions and the different tongues are closely related. Malay-speaking people dominate the eastern coast, while people in the southern and central interior speak languages related to Malay
Malay language
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

, such as the Lampung and Minangkabau people. The highland of northern Sumatra is inhabited by the Bataks
Batak (Indonesia)
Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The term is used to include the Toba, Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Angkola and Mandailing, each of which are distinct but related groups with distinct, albeit related, languages and...

, while the northernmost coast is dominated by Acehs. Ethnic Chinese
Chinese Indonesian
Chinese Indonesians, also called the Indonesian Chinese, are an overseas Chinese group whose ancestors emigrated from China to Indonesia, formerly a colony of the Netherlands known as the Dutch East Indies...

 minorities are also present in urban centres.

A majority of people in Sumatra are Muslims (87%), while 10% are Christians, 2% are Buddhist and 1% Hindu. Most central Bataks
Batak (Indonesia)
Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The term is used to include the Toba, Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Angkola and Mandailing, each of which are distinct but related groups with distinct, albeit related, languages and...

 are Protestant Christians, a religion introduced by the German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 Rhenish Missionary Society
Rhenish Missionary Society
The Rhenish Missionary Society was one of the largest missionary societies in Germany. Formed from smaller missions founded as far back as 1799, the Society was amalgamated on 23 September 1828, and its first missionaries were ordained and sent off to South Africa by the end of the year.The...

.

External links