Sumatra:: Padang

West Sumatra, Padang. Coral reef and a small island west of Padang (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

West Sumatra, Padang. Coral reef and a small island west of Padang (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

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.

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Sumatra:: Acehnese identity

Sumatra, Aceh, Banda Aceh. Beach just outside Banda Aceh, (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Sumatra, Aceh, Banda Aceh. Beach just outside Banda Aceh, (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Situated in the Special Region of Aceh the northernmost provincial-level unit of Sumatra, the more than 3.4 million Acehnese are most famous throughout the archipelago for their devotion to Islam and their militant resistance to colonial and republican rule. Renowned throughout the nineteenth century for their pepper plantations, most Acehnese were rice growers in the coastal regions in the early 1990s.

Acehnese do not have large descent groups; the nuclear family consisting of mother, father, and children is the central social unit. Unlike the Javanese or Balinese family, the Acehnese family system shows marked separation of men’s and women’s spheres of activity. Traditionally, males are directed outwardly towards the world of trade. In the practice of merantau–going abroad or away from one’s birthplace–young adult males leave their homelands for a time to seek their fortune, experience, and reputation through commerce. This may involve travel to another village, province, or island. This maturation process among males is viewed as growing out of the domestic female-dominated world of sensory indulgence and into the male world of reasoned rationality, whose practice is expressed through trade.

One model of Acehnese family life is that a woman sends a man out of the house to trade and welcomes him back when he brings home money. When he has exhausted his money, she sends him out again. Meanwhile, women and their kin are responsible for working the fields and keeping the gardens and rice fields productive.

This oscillating pattern of migration encountered some difficulties in the 1980s as increasing numbers of men failed to return to the Acehnese homeland, but instead remained and married in remote locations, such as Jakarta and Kalimantan. In addition, northern Sumatra experienced important changes because of the influx of temporary workers seeking employment in the oil and timber industries.

Library of Congress, Country Studies
Data as of November 1992

 

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Sumatra:: Bohorok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center

Indonesia, Sumatra. Bukit Lawang. Gunung Leuser National Park. The orangutan sanctuary of Bukit Lawang is located inside the park. A young orangutan. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Indonesia, Sumatra. Bukit Lawang. Gunung Leuser National Park. The orangutan sanctuary of Bukit Lawang is located inside the park. A young orangutan. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The Bohorok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center was started in 1973 by two Swiss zoologists, Regina Frey and Monica Boerner, and funded by Frankfurt Zoological Society and WWF. The intention was to help orangutans that had been displaced due to land clearing or recovered from captivity. In the first years they had great success in the four steps of rehabilitation; removal from captivity, a quarantine of at least three months, release into the forest around the center and finally taken deep into the rainforest to be released into the wild permanently.

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Sumatra:: Go to Bukit Lawang

Indonesia, Sumatra. Bukit Lawang. There are no luxurious hotels here, but a large assortment of budget rooms. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Indonesia, Sumatra. Bukit Lawang. There are no luxurious hotels here, but a large assortment of budget rooms. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

(Guest blog) I just came from four days at BUKIT LAWANG near GUNUNG LEUSER NP in Sumatra…Such an amazing place and it’s really tragic the way that the town has yet to recover from the 2003 flood. It needs only one thing – and that’s tourists. Pre Nov.2003 Bukit Lawang was an absolute oasis for travelers to northern Sumatra and we made up a HUGE part of the local economy.

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Sumatra:: Batak identity

Indonesia, Sumatra. Samosir. Simanindo on the northern tip of Samosir is the cultural center of Samosir, with a museum. Batak dance performance. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Indonesia, Sumatra. Samosir. Simanindo on the northern tip of Samosir is the cultural center of Samosir, with a museum. Batak dance performance. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The term Batak designates any one of several groups inhabiting the interior of Sumatera Utara Province south of Aceh: Angkola, Karo, Mandailing, Pakpak, Simelungen, Toba, and others. The Batak number around 3 million. Culturally, they lack the complex etiquette and social hierarchy of the Hinduized peoples of Indonesia.

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