Sumatera or Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world located in Indonesia, with an area of 443,065.8 km2. The population of the island is around 42,409,510 people (2000). This island is also known by another name, namely Percha, Andalas, or Suwarnadwipa (Sanskrit, meaning “golden island”). Then in 1286 Padang Roco Inscription carved swarnnabhūmi (Sanskrit, meaning “golden land”) and bhūmi mālayu (“Malay Land”) to refer to this island. Furthermore, in the 14th century Negarakertagama manuscript also reiterates “Bumi Malayu” (Malay) for this island.
The island of Sumatra is located in the western part of the archipelago. To the north it is bordered by the Bay of Bengal, to the east by the Malacca Strait, to the south by the Sunda Strait, and to the west by the Indian Ocean. In the east of the island, many swamps are found that are flowed by large rivers that empties there, including Asahan (North Sumatra), Siak River (Riau), Kampar, Inderagiri (West Sumatra, Riau), Batanghari (West Sumatra, Jambi ), Musi, Ogan, Lematang, Komering (South Sumatra), and Way Sekampung (Lampung). While some rivers that flow into the west coast of the island of Sumatra include Batang Tarusan (West Sumatra), and Ketahun (Bengkulu).
In the western part of the island, the Bukit Barisan mountains stretch from north to south. Along the Bukit Barisan there are active volcanoes, such as Geureudong (Aceh), Sinabung (North Sumatra), Marapi, Talang (West Sumatra), Mount Kaba (Bengkulu), and Kerinci (West Sumatra, Jambi). On the island of Sumatra there are also several lakes, including Lake Laut Tawar (Aceh), Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Lake Singkarak, Lake Maninjau, Lake Above, Lake Dibawah, Lake Talang (West Sumatra), Lake Kerinci (Jambi), and Lake Ranau (Lampung and South Sumatra).
In general, the island of Sumatra is inhabited by Malays, who are divided into several tribes. The big tribes are Aceh, Batak, Malay, Minangkabau, Besemah, Rejang, Ogan, Komering, and Lampung. In the east coast of Sumatra and in several large cities such as Medan, Palembang and Pekanbaru, many ethnic Chinese live. The population of the island of Sumatra is only concentrated in the region of East Sumatra and the Minangkabau highlands. The livelihoods of the majority of Sumatran residents are farmers, fishermen and traders.
The majority of Sumatra’s population is Muslim and a small proportion are followers of Protestant Christianity, especially in the Tapanuli and Toba-Samosir regions, North Sumatra. In urban areas, such as Medan, Pekanbaru, Batam, Pangkal Pinang and Palembang, some Buddhists were found.
Cities on the island of Sumatra are connected by three sections of the causeway, namely the middle cross, the east cross, and the west cross, which crosses from north – south Sumatra. In addition there are also road sections that cross from the west – east, such as the Bengkulu – Palembang, Padang – Jambi, and Padang – Dumai sections.
In some parts of Sumatra, trains are an alternative means of transportation. In the south, the railroad starts from the port of Panjang (Lampung) to Lubuk Linggau and Palembang (South Sumatra). In the middle of the island of Sumatra, the railroad is only found in West Sumatra. This line connects the city of Padang with Lunto rice fields and the city of Padang with the city of Pariaman. During the Dutch colonial era until 2001, the Padang – Sawah Lunto route was used for coal transportation. But since the coal reserves in Ombilin are running low, this path will no longer function. Since the end of 2006, the West Sumatra provincial government has re-activated this line as a tourist train line.
In the north of Sumatra, the railroad runs from Medan to Tebing Tinggi. In this line, the train is used as a means of transporting palm oil and passengers. International flights are served from Banda Aceh (Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport), Medan (Polonia International Airport), Padang (Minangkabau International Airport, and Palembang (Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II International Airport), while the seaport port is in Belawan (Medan ), Teluk Bayur (Padang), and Bakauheni (Lampung).
Sumatra Island is an island rich in agricultural products. Of the five rich provinces in Indonesia, three are located on the island of Sumatra, namely the provinces of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Riau and South Sumatra. The main products of the island of Sumatra are oil palm, tobacco, petroleum, tin, bauxite, coal and natural gas. Most of these products are processed by foreign companies, such as PT Caltex which processes petroleum in Riau province.
Mining producer places are:
- Arun (NAD), produces natural gas.
- Pangkalan Brandan (North Sumatra), produces petroleum
- Duri, Dumai, and Bengkalis (Riau), produce petroleum
- Tanjung Enim (South Sumatra), produces coal
- Plaju and Sungai Gerong (South Sumatra), produce petroleum
- Tanjung Pinang (Riau Islands), produces bauxite
- Indarung (West Sumatra), produces cement
- Sawahlunto (West Sumatra), produces coal
Several cities on the island of Sumatra are also important commercial cities. Medan, the largest city on the island of Sumatra, is the main commercial city on the island. Many large national companies are headquartered here.