North Sumatra is a large province stretching
from the indian Ocean in the west to the Straits of Malaka in the
East and from Aceh in the north to West Sumatra in the south. It
is thick with virgin forests, lush vegetation and jungle covered
hills, terraced ricefields, cool mountain streams, strong rivers,
beautiful waterfalls, peaceful white sandy beaches and large ancient
The people of the region are hospitable
and warm and can be divided into five main ethnic groups; the Coastal
Malays living along the Malaka Straits; the Bataks consisting of
the sub-tribes of Toba, Simalungun, Pak Pak (Dairi) and Karon of
the highlands around Lake Toba and Samosir Island; the Pesisirs
of Central Tapanuli along the Indian Ocean coastline; the Mandailings
and Angkolas from southern Tapanuli and Nias Islanders off the western
coast of the province.
These groups each have their own dialects,
religious beliefs and traditional arts, customs and culture. There
are also several ethnic groups who live in Medan and other towns
of North Sumatra, the largest of these being Chinese and Indian.
Other parts of archipelago are represented, but non more strongly
than the Acehnese, Minangkabau and Javanese who now live in many
parts of the area. As a result the area is often regarded as constituting
a natural museum of Indonesia's proto-Malay heritage in which ancient
customs and traditions have been preserved.
The diversity of arts and cultures literally
make this region a Garden of Eden for social scientists and culture
seekers. It is a treasure chest of culture and tradition waiting
to be explored, with ancient graves of Batak kings, unique dances
and ceremonies, and beautiful arts and crafts. North Sumatra is
also one of the riches provinces in Indonesia for flora and fauna
with a wealth of birds, butterflies, buffalo and deer. The province
proudly boats of its Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center in the Gunung
Leuser National Park which is bordered by the fast flowing Bohorok
River and some delightful countryside and of course lake Toba, legendary
birthplace of the mountain-dwelling Bataks and the largest inland
lake in Southest Asia.
The region also produces more than 30%
of Indonesia's export commodities and handles about 60% of them,
making it vital cag in the Indonesian economy. Tabacco, palm oil,
tea and rubber are produced in large quantities, particulary around
Medan in the north of the province.