Nīas (Indonesian: Pulau Nias,
Nias language: Tanö Niha) is an island
located on the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Nias is also the
name of the archipelago (Kepulauan Nias) of which the island is the
centre, but also includes the
Batu Islands to the south-east and the
small Hinako Islands.
Nias Island covers an area of 5,121.3 km2
(1,977.3 sq mi) (including the minor offshore islands). It
is mostly a lowland area rising to around 800 m (2,600 ft)
above sea level. There were 756,338 inhabitants on the island
(including minor offshore islands) at the 2010 Census. The latest
estimate for January 2014 is 788,132.
Tsunami and earthquakes of 2004 and 2005
8 See also
10 External links
Location of Nias, Indonesia.
It is located in a chain of islands parallel to the west coast of
Simeulue is about 140 km (87 mi) northwest, and the
Batu Islands (which are administered as part of
Nias and have an
ethnically similar population) are located about 80 km
(50 mi) southeast. This chain, which resurfaces in Nusa Tenggara
in the mountainous islands of
Sumba and Timor, is the forearc of the
Sumatra Basin along the
Sunda Trench subduction zone.
Nias the oceanic plate is being obliquely subducted under the Sunda
Plate at the rapid rate of 52 mm (2.0 in) a year (Milsom).
Villagers in Bawomataluo on
Nias move a megalith for construction
Nias is the largest of the islands off
Sumatra that are part of North
Sumatra province. This archipelago consists of 131 islands, of which
Nias Island is the biggest. The population in this area was 756,762
inhabitants at the 2010 Census, including Ono Niha (the indigenous
inhabitants of the island), Malay, Batak, and Chinese; in January 2014
the population had risen to 788,132.
Nias was a single administrative regency (kabupaten)
covering the entire island, part of the province of North Sumatra. In
2003 it was split into two regencies,
Nias Selatan (South
Nias). Subsequently, the island was divided further,
with the creation of two further regencies from parts of the former
Nias Regency –
Nias Barat (West Nias) and
Nias Utara (North Nias)
– and the designation of
Gunungsitoli as an autonomous city
independent of the four regencies.
Gunungsitoli remains the capital
Nias Regency and it is the center of the regency's
administration and of the business affairs of the entire island. Teluk
Dalam is the capital of
Nias Selatan Regency,
Regency and Lahomi of
Nias Barat Regency.
All parties in the
North Sumatra Legislative Council have agreed to
the formation of a
Nias Island province (comprising Nias, Nias
Nias Utara and
Nias Barat regencies, and Gunungsitoli
municipality). It has been approved at a regional plenary session on 2
May 2011, but still awaits approval from Central government, which has
not yet enacted the grand design for additional provinces. The new
province will thus cover an area identical to the original Nias
Regency prior to the latter's division in 2003. Apart from Nias
Island itself, the province will include the smaller Batu Islands
(Pulau-pulau Batu) to the south, lying between
Nias and Siberut; the
Batu Islands form seven administrative districts within South Nias
A man holding a
Balato (sword) in a
Nias war dance.
Nias ceremonial stone jump.
The first ancestors of
Nias were Austromelanesoid race from Hoabinth
at 10,000 B.C. and then came more advance Austronesians from Taiwan
which shifted the existence of the Austromelanesoids. The name of
the island derives from the word used by the islanders to describe
themselves, niha ("human").
Nias Island chain has been trading since prehistory with
other cultures, other islands, and even mainland Asia. Some historians
and archaeologists have cited the local culture as one of the few
Megalithic cultures in existence today. While this point of
view is hotly debated, there is no doubt that Nias' relative
geographic isolation has created a unique culture.
Nias is best known
for its diversity of festivals and celebration. The most well-known
events are War Dances, performed regularly for tourists, and Stone
Jumping, a manhood ritual that sees young men leaping over two meter
stone towers to their fate. In the past the top of the stone board is
covered with spikes and sharp pointed bamboo. The music of Nias,
performed mostly by women, is noted worldwide for its haunting
Gunungsitoli is home to Nias's only museum, the Museum Pusaka Nias
Nias Heritage Foundation), which houses over 6000 objects related
to Nias's cultural heritage. The museum had recently built a new
building and had improved their storage and exhibitions when the 2004
earthquake and tsunami occurred. The museum suffered some damage to
the grounds and collections, but museum staff are working to recover
from this devastating event
The predominant religion is Protestant Christianity. Six out of seven
Niasans are Protestant; the remainder are about evenly divided between
Muslim (mostly immigrants from elsewhere in Indonesia) and Catholic.
However adherence to either Christian or Muslim religions is still
Nias continues into current day celebrating its own
indigenous culture and traditions as the primary form of spiritual
The people of
Nias build omo sebua houses on massive ironwood pillars
with towering roofs. Not only were they almost impregnable to attack
in former tribal warfare, their flexible nail-less construction
provide proven earthquake durability.
Nias is home not only to a unique human culture but also endemic fauna
which differ from other areas of
North Sumatra because of the island's
remote location separate from Sumatra.
To reach Nias, there is a weekly ship from
Jakarta to Gunungsitoli;
there were ferries from
Sibolga to Gunungsitoli, Teluk Dalam, or
Lahewa every day; before the Asian financial crisis hit Indonesia,
there was a daily flight from
Medan to Gunungsitoli. This became less
frequent following the crisis.
Since the 1998 Reformation, however, transport links on and to the
island have become poor. Internally, the road system is in a very bad
condition. Externally the air and ferry links are unreliable. There
are two ferry terminals (
Gunungsitoli and Teluk Dalam) and an airport
(Binaka, near Gunungsitoli) on the island, serviced mainly from
Medan respectively. However, local ferry companies
regularly go out of business (or their boats sink), so only one
terminal may be active at any given time. Since the 2005 earthquake,
transportation has improved to cope with the increase in travel needs
for reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. Wings Air and Manunggal
Air are the airlines that fly to Gunungsitoli.
Surfing in Sorake
Coconut trees in Teluk Dalam
Nias is an internationally famous surfing destination. The best known
surfing area is Sorake Bay, close to the town of Teluk Dalam, on the
southern tip. Enclosed by the beaches of Lagundri and Sorake, the bay
has both left and right-hand breaks. As they wait for waves, surfers
can often see sea turtles swimming below. There are also two
consistent, world-class waves in the nearby Hinako Islands, Asu and
Bawa. Many lesser-known, high-quality surf spots with low crowds await
Nias was part of the famous
Hippie trail of the 1960s, particularly
traveled by surfers, which led to Bali. It has been the site of
several international surfing competitions in the past, particularly
before the 1998 Indonesian Reformation Movement.
Despite the storied history of surfing in Nias, international surfing
Nias has slowed down especially (but not specifically) due to the
recent earthquakes. The situation is slowly changing,
Tsunami and earthquakes of 2004 and 2005
U.S. Navy communicates with Military
Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) using
Inmarsat satellite telephone in
Nias (April 2005).
On December 26, 2004 the
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake struck a few
kilometers north of the island, creating tsunamis as high as 10 metres
(33 ft). 122 people were killed and hundreds more rendered
On March 28, 2005, the island was again hit by the 2005
Simeulue earthquake, initially presumed to be an aftershock of
the 2004 quake, but now regarded as the second most powerful
earthquake ever recorded in Indonesia and among the top 10 most
powerful recorded worldwide since 1900. At least 800 people were
reported dead, with the possibility of more than 2,000 casualties.
Hundreds of buildings were toppled and many thousands of people were
made homeless. In 2007, almost two years after the earthquake, there
were still tens of thousands of internally displaced persons living in
camps throughout Nias.
Nias's coastline has changed markedly with the tsunami and
earthquake. In some areas, the coast moved over 50 m
(160 ft) inland. In other areas, as much as a further 100 m
(330 ft) of land is exposed. Uplift of land as much as 2.9 m
(9.5 ft) has been recorded.
Following the earthquake, many international aid agencies moved in to
assist in rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. Oxfam,
International Aid, Giving Children Hope, Save the Children Fund, World
Vision, Surf Aid, Safe Harbor International and Caritas International
are some of the international NGOs represented in Nias. UN agencies
represented include UNORC – Office of the UN Recovery Coordinator
for Aceh and Nias, UNDP, UNICEF, UN-Habitat, WFP, IOM and UNIDO.
Family portrait of an older
Nias princess with her daughters and
Nias and the westcoast of
Sumatra betweet 1690 and 1743
Nias ancestor statue.
A band of
Nias headhunters submitting to the Dutch.
Nias place of sacrifice.
List of islands of Indonesia
^ a b c
Estimasi Penduduk Menurut Umur Tunggal Dan Jenis Kelamin 2014
^ "The First True Inhabitants of Nias". March 15, 2014.
^ Fernández-Armesto, Felipe (2010). "The Stranger-Effect in Early
Modern Asia". Itinerario. 24 (02): 80. doi:10.1017/S0165115300013036.
Nias Artifacts Damaged in Powerful Earthquake
^ Falling Rain Genomics. Airport BINAKA
^ Suwastoyo, Bhimanto (28 March 2006) Mail & Guardian Online.
Indonesia's quake-hit surfers' paradise hopes for a break
^ Rinaldo, Rachel (February 15, 2004) Boots n' All Travel. Strange
Days in Nias
Bali Advertiser. Surf Season
^ (2009) Indo Surf:
^ "Largest Earthquakes in the World Since 1900". U.S. Geological
Survey. Archived from the original on November 7, 2010. Retrieved July
^ Sieh, Kerry (June 1, 2005). "A Geologist in the Field" (PDF).
Discover Magazine. Caltech. Retrieved March 2014. Check date
values in: access-date= (help)
Media related to
Nias at Wikimedia Commons
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Nias Island Website