SUMATRA (Indonesian : Sumatera) is a large island in western
Indonesia that is part of the
Sunda Islands . It is the second largest
island that is entirely in
New Guinea ,
are shared between
Indonesia and other countries) and the
sixth-largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 (not including
adjacent islands such as the
Riau Islands and Bangka Belitung
Sumatra is an elongated landmass spanning a diagonal
northwest-southeast axis. The
Indian Ocean borders the west,
northwest, and southwest coasts of
Sumatra with the island chain of
Nias and Mentawai off the western coast. In the northeast
Strait of Malacca
Strait of Malacca separates the island from the Malay
Peninsula , which is an extension of the Eurasian continent. In the
southeast the narrow
Sunda Strait separates
Java . The
northern tip of
Sumatra borders the
Andaman Islands , while off the
southeastern coast lie the islands of Bangka and Belitung, Karimata
Strait and the
Java Sea . The
Bukit Barisan mountains, which contain
several active volcanoes, form the backbone of the island, while the
northeastern area contains large plains and lowlands with swamps,
mangrove forest and complex river systems. The equator crosses the
island at its center in
West Sumatra and
Riau provinces. The climate
of the island is tropical , hot and humid. Lush tropical rain forest
once dominated the landscape.
Sumatra has a wide range of plant and animal species but has lost
almost 50% of its tropical rainforest in the last 35 years. Many
species are now critically endangered , such as the Sumatran ground
cuckoo , the
Sumatran tiger , the
Sumatran elephant , the Sumatran
rhinoceros , and the
Sumatran orangutan .
Deforestation on the island
has also resulted in serious seasonal smoke haze over neighbouring
countries, such as the
2013 Southeast Asian haze causing considerable
Indonesia and affected countries
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 3 Administration
* 4 Geography
* 5 Largest cities
* 6 Flora and fauna
* 7 Demographics
* 7.1 Ethnic groups
* 7.2 Languages
* 7.3 Religion
* 8 Rail transport
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 External links
Sumatra was known in ancient times by the
Sanskrit names of
Swarnadwīpa ("Island of Gold") and Swarnabhūmi ("Land of Gold"),
because of the gold deposits in the island's highlands . The first
mention of the name of
Sumatra was in the name of
(king) Sumatrabhumi ("King of the land of Sumatra"), who sent an
China in 1017.
Arab geographers referred to the island as
Lamuri , Lambri or Ramni) in the tenth through thirteenth
centuries, in reference to a kingdom near modern-day Banda
was the first landfall for traders.
Late in the 14th century the name
Sumatra became popular in reference
to the kingdom of
Pasai , a rising power until replaced by the
Aceh . Sultan Alauddin Shah of Aceh, in letters addressed
Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1602, referred to himself as "king
Aceh and Samudra". The word itself is from
(समुद्र), meaning "gathering together of waters, sea or
Marco Polo named it Samara or Samarcha in the late 13th
century, while the 14th century traveller
Odoric of Pordenone used
Sumoltra for Samudra. Subsequent European writers then used similar
forms of the name for the island.
European writers in the 19th century found that the indigenous
inhabitants did not have a name for the island.
Melayu Kingdom was absorbed by Srivijaya. :79–80
Srivijaya was a
Buddhist monarchy centred in what is now
Dominating the region through trade and conquest throughout the 7th to
9th centuries, the empire helped spread the Malay culture throughout
Nusantara . The empire was a thalassocracy or maritime power that
extended its influence from island to island.
Palembang was a center
for scholarly learning, and it was there the Chinese
I Ching studied
Sanskrit in 671 CE before departing for India. On his
journey to China, he spent four years in
Buddhist texts and writing two manuscripts. Batak warriors, 1870
Srivijayan influence waned in the 11th century after it was defeated
Chola Empire of southern India. At the same time, Islam made
its way to
Arabs and Indian traders in the 6th and 7th
centuries AD. By the late 13th century, the monarch of the Samudra
kingdom had converted to Islam.
Marco Polo visited the island in 1292,
Ibn Battuta visited twice during 1345–1346.
succeeded by the powerful
Aceh Sultanate , 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
Sumatra came under the control of the
Dutch East Indies 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 , such as: Mohammad
Hatta (the first vice-president) and
Sutan Sjahrir (the first prime
Aceh Movement fought against Indonesian government forces in
Aceh Insurgency from 1976 to 2005. Security crackdowns in 2001
and 2002 resulted in several thousand civilian deaths.
Traditional house in
North Sumatra Rumah Gadang,
Minangkabau traditional house in
West Sumatra A Malay
traditional house in Bangkinang,
The ten administrative Provinces (provinsi) of
Sumatra – including
the smaller islands nearby – are listed below with their populations
at the 2000 and 2010 Censuses. Note some 4 million of these residents
Sumatra do not live on the island itself—but on nearby islands
administered collectively as "Sumatra". The final two of the provinces
below do not have territory on the actual island.
census 2000 Population
census 2010 Population
estimate 2014 CAPITAL
(Sumatera Utara) 72,981.23
(Sumatera Barat) 42,012.89
(Sumatera Selatan) 91,592.43
(Kepulauan Bangka Belitung) 16,424.14
(Kepulauan Riau) 8,256.10
Map of geological formation of
The longest axis of the island runs approximately 1,790 km (1,110 mi)
northwest–southeast, crossing the equator near the centre. At its
widest point, the island spans 435 km (270 mi). The interior of the
island is dominated by two geographical regions: the Barisan Mountains
in the west and swampy plains in the east.
Sumatra is the closest
Indonesian island to mainland Asia.
To the southeast is
Java , separated by the
Sunda Strait . To the
north is the
Malay Peninsula (located on the Asian mainland),
separated by the
Strait of Malacca
Strait of Malacca . To the east is
Borneo , across
Karimata Strait . West of the island is the
Indian Ocean .
The backbone of the island is the Barisan Mountain chain, with the
Mount Kerinci as the highest point at 3,805 m (12,467
ft), 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
Lake Toba . It also contains deposits
of coal and gold. The volcanic activity stems from Sumatra's location
Pacific Ring of Fire
Pacific Ring of Fire —which is also the reason why Sumatra
has had some of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded: in 1797 ,
1833 , 1861 , 2004 , 2005 , and 2007 .
Great Sumatran fault (a strike-slip fault), and the Sunda
megathrust (a subduction zone ), run the entire length of the island
along its west coast. On 26 December 2004, the western coast and
islands of Sumatra, particularly
Aceh province, were struck by a
tsunami following the
Indian Ocean earthquake . This was the longest
earthquake recorded, lasting between 500 and 600 seconds. More than
170,000 Indonesians were killed, primarily in Aceh. Other recent
earthquakes to strike
Sumatra include the 2005 Nias–Simeulue
earthquake and the
2010 Mentawai earthquake and tsunami . Mount
To the east, big rivers carry silt from the mountains, 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 and petroleum .
Sumatra is the largest producer of
Indonesian coffee . Small-holders
grow Arabica coffee (
Coffea arabica ) in the highlands, while Robusta
Coffea canephora ) is found in the lowlands. Arabica coffee from the
regions of Gayo, Lintong and Sidikilang is typically processed using
Giling Basah (wet hulling) technique, which gives it a heavy body
and low acidity.
Sumatra used to be covered by tropical rainforest , 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 fifth highest island , and the third
highest in the Indonesian archipelago.
Batang Hari River is the longest river in the island with its source
Minangkabau Highlands , stretching around 800 kilometres
eastward to its estuary in the
Medan , the largest city in
Palembang , the
second largest city in
Batam , the third largest city
The largest cities in
Sumatra by population, listed by their 2010
census populations, are:
2010 Census CITY BIRTHDAY
1 July 1590
17 June 683
18 December 1829
23 June 1784
17 June 1682
7 August 1669
17 May 1946
18 March 1719
20 April 1999
24 April 1871
22 April 1205
17 August 2001
FLORA AND FAUNA
Rafflesia arnoldii See also: List of
national parks of
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 which dominates the Sumatran
tropical pine forests of the higher mountainsides in the north of the
island and rainforest plants such as
Rafflesia arnoldii (the world's
largest individual flower), and the titan arum (the world's largest
unbranched inflorescence ).
The island is home to 201 mammal species and 580 bird species, such
Sumatran ground cuckoo . There are 9 endemic mammal species on
Sumatra and 14 more endemic to the nearby
Mentawai Islands .
There are about 300 freshwater fish species in Sumatra.
Sumatran tiger ,
Sumatran rhinoceros ,
Sumatran elephant ,
Sumatran ground cuckoo , and
Sumatran orangutan are all critically
endangered, indicating the highest level of threat to their survival.
In October 2008, the Indonesian government announced a plan to protect
Sumatra's remaining forests.
The island includes more than 10 national parks, including 3 which
are listed as the
Tropical Rainforest Heritage of
Heritage Site –
Gunung Leuser National Park
Gunung Leuser National Park , Kerinci Seblat
National Park and
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park . The Berbak
National Park is one of three national parks in
Indonesia listed as a
wetland of international importance under the
Ramsar Convention .
Minangkabau women carrying platters of food to a ceremony
Sumatra is not particularly densely populated, with just over 100
people per km2 – more than 50 million people in total. Because of
its great extent, 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
The people of
Sumatra are multi-lingual, multi-diverse and
multi-religious. Most of these groups share many similar traditions
and the different tongues are closely related. Ethnic Malays dominate
most of the eastern coast in the provinces of
South Sumatra ,
Riau Islands , northern parts of
Lampung and Bengkulu
and in the easternmost parts of
North Sumatra and
Aceh , while people
in the southern and central interior speak languages related to Malay
, such as Lembak (that speak
Col language ), Kerinci (that speak
Kerinci language ) and
Minangkabau people (that speak Minangkabau ).
The highlands of northern
Sumatra is inhabited by the Bataknese , the
northernmost coast is dominated by the Acehnese , while southernmost
coast is dominated by Ethnic Javanese . Chinese and Tamil minorities
are present in urban centres.
There are over 52 languages spoken, all of them (except Chinese and
Indians) belong to the Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian sub-branch of
Malayo-Polynesian which in turn is a branch of the Austronesian
language family. Within Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian, they were divided
into several sub-branches that is Chamic (which are represented by
Acehnese in which its closest relatives are languages spoken by Ethnic
Chams in Cambodia and Vietnam), Malayic (Malay , Minangkabau and other
closely related languages), Northwest Sumatran (
Batak languages , Gayo
and others), Lampungic (includes Proper
Lampung and Komering ) and
Bornean (represented by Rejang in which its closest linguistic
relatives are Bukar Sadong and Land Dayak spoken in West Kalimantan
Malaysia )). Northwest Sumatran and Lampungic branches
are endemic to the island. Like all parts of Indonesia, Indonesian
(which was based on
Riau Malay) is the official language and the main
Lingua franca. Although
Sumatra has its own local Lingua franca,
variants of Malay like
Medan Malay and
Palembang Malay are popular
in North and South Sumatra, especially in urban areas. Minangkabau
Padang dialect) is popular in West Sumatra, some parts of North
Riau (especially in
Pekanbaru and areas
bordered with West Sumatra) while Acehnese is also used as an
inter-ethnic means of communication in some parts of
Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda
The majority of people in
Sumatra are Muslims (91%), while 8% are
Christians, less than 2% are
Buddhist and Hindus . Most central
Bataks are Protestant Christians, a faith introduced by the year 2005
Rhenish Missionary Society ).
Several unconnected railway networks built during Netherlands East
Indies exist in Sumatra, such as the ones connecting Banda Aceh
Lhokseumawe -Besitang -
Pematang Siantar -Rantau
Prapat in Northern
Sumatra (the Banda Aceh-Besitang section was closed
in 1971, but is currently being rebuilt).
West Sumatra , and Bandar
Palembang -Lahat-Lubuk Linggau
in Southern Sumatra.
Architecture of Sumatra
Communism in Sumatra
Music of Sumatra
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