Bukittinggi, north of Padang in the Minangkabau highlands, sits at an altitude of approx. 920 m. The name Bukittinggi means high hill or top. This is a charming city with a cooler climate than Padang, and is one of the most important cities of the Minang people, greatly influenced by their traditional culture. The name “Minangkabau” is put together by “menang” (victory) and “kerbau” (ox or water buffalo).
The Minangkabau–who predominate along the coasts of Sumatera Utara and Sumatera Barat, interior Riau, and northern Bengkulu provinces–in the early 1990s numbered more than 3.5 million. Like the Batak, they have large corporate descent groups, but unlike the Batak, the Minangkabau traditionally reckon descent matrilineally. In this system, a child is regarded as descended from his mother, not his father.
Padang on Sumatra’s west coast is the island’s third largest city with a population of about 700.000. It is the provincial capital of West Sumatra and most of the products from this region is exported through Padang. The major export articles are coal, rubber, coffee, spice, tobacco, rattan and tea. Padang is situated at the foot of the Minangkabau highland, which is named after the original inhabitants of west Sumatra.