Welcome to Sumatra
Sumatra is a large island in western Indonesia that is part of the Sunda Island. The interior of the island is dominated by two geographical regions: the Barisan Montain in the west and swampy plains in the east. Sumatra is the closest Indonesian island to mainland Asia. The backbone of the island is the Barisan Mountain chain, with the active volcano 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.
Volcano eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides are common headline grabbers for this one of the world’s richest ecosystems. But nobody can deny Sumatra’s beauty from the top of majestic volcanoes to the lush of the jungles and down at sea level, where idyllic deserted beaches are scattered along the island.
Most of 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.
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 as the Sumatran ground cuckoo. There are 9 endemic mammal species on mainland Sumatra and 14 more endemic to the nearby Mentawai Islands. There are about 300 freshwater fish species in Sumatra.
The 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.
Specially in remote Sumatra area, visiting Sumatra can mean never ending action. It has both unique and adventurous activities, starting from the Orangutan sanctuary in Bukit Lawang, some world-class diving sites in Pulau Weh and surfing in the wild Mentawai islands,. You can also enjoy spicy Padang cuisines, relax on the shore of Lake Toba, bag the top of Mount Kerinci of Jambi, stop by the granite beaches of Belitung, and see dolphins at Kiluan, Lampung. The land is also filled with a humungous variety of unique as well as common rainforest fauna. You can spot not only red-haired orangutans, but also all sorts of monkeys that swing on treetops, in addition to Sumatran tigers, rhinoceroses, and elephants.
With almost 40 million inhabitants on this island, the varieties of cultures in Sumatra will also give you non-stop thrills. From the devout Muslims of Aceh, outspoken and friendly Batak people, matrilineal Minangkabau of Padang, sizable Chinese communities of Bangka-Belitung, to semi-primitive tribesmen of Nias; all of them, with their own distinct cultures and languages, living on one island, united by mutual respect for centuries.
The island includes more than 10 national parks, including 3 which are listed as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra World Heritage Site – 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.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 the Giling Basah (wet hulling) technique, which gives it a heavy body and low acidity.
The westernmost province of Indonesia which became world-famous overnight after the 2004 boxing-day tsunami. It is the country’s most socially and religiously conservative province, and the only one to practice Islamic Sharia laws. SCUBA dive and snorkel on the island Pulau Weh in the north and Singkil on the south, relax for two or three days on the shore of tranquil Lake Laut Tawar in Takengon (Gayo Highlands) and do a trekking trip the wild jungles on the hills of Gunung Leuser National Park through Ketambe and Kutacane.
A dynamic province where sizable shares of Christian and Muslim populations living together in peace for centuries. Pay a visit to orangutan sanctuary in Bukit Lawang, stop at Maimun Palace in Medan, Sumatra’s largest city, watch the majestic Sipiso-Piso waterfall in Berastagi, circle the Lake Toba while making a stop at Tele to watch the sunrise above the lake, and meet semi-primitive tribesmen of Nias.