Situated on the eastern side of the Bukit Barisan mountain range across the whole length of this big island, the province of South Sumatera is relatively flat, nevertheless fertile, as numerous rivers crisscross and meander throughout the region. Part of this province are two size able island called Bangka and Belitung, off Sumatera's east coast in the South China Sea. Palembang, its capital city and gateway to the province, lies right on the banks of the great Musi river, 60 km upstream and navigable by oceangoing vessels. No wonder that most major social and economic activities should center in and around Palembang and the Musi river where the region's pride, the Ampera Bridge, is found as well.
Because of its sheer location on the southernmost rim of the South China Sea and close to one of the world's busiest sea lanes linking the Far East with Europe, the region's historical background is undoubtedly rich and colorful. Once the very site of the Buddhist Kingdom of Sriwijaya, it practiced a bustling trade with then ancient China during its era of dynasties. Inevitable of course, were the interacting forces of the two different cultures at the time which nowadays are still noticeable as consequences of the past.
Visitors can easily reach South Sumatera by air through three major airports at Palembang, Pangkal Pinang on Bangka on Belitung island, all three cities having direct connections with Medan, Batam, Padang, Jakarta and not long from now with Singapore too. Air-conditioned buses from points North and West of Palembang are regularly available, as well as from cities on Java and Bali.
The province of Jambi is located in Central Sumatra encompassing an area of 53,435 sq. kms, almost 60% consisting of forest area has made the province not only the home of a large variety of fauna ad flora but also an exciting place for the sporty and adventure types.
The land of the Minangkabau, West sumatera has a distinct culture which distinguishes it from the rest of the island. A long of scenic beauty with blue green lakes and mountains. West Sumatera's centres of culture and tourism is Bukittinggi in the highlands, north of the provincial capital of Padang. Most prominent in the landscape is the horn shaped roofs of the houses nestled in the coconut graves.
The name Minangkabau means triumphant buffalo. It lead's a community and family life based on a matrilineal system by which cluster around mosques and the traditional adat houses. As it is the women who own the properties, the men are known for their wanderlust and entreneurship. Travelling is considered a mark of success and therefore many of them are found merantau (emigrated) to other parts of the country. Proof of this is the many Minang or Padang restaurants, serving very spicy food, found in all major towns in the nation. The people are hospitable and eloquent in a poetic style of speech and ceremonies festivals are colorful occasions.
West Sumatera has a coast line where the capital is situated. The hinterland is a range of high mountains which dip into picturesque valleys and lakes. Amongst them are the remnants of the old Minangkabau kingdom of Pagaruyung, (the art centres for silver, hand-weaving, embroidery and woodcarving).
Padang's Tabing Airport is the main gateway to West Sumatera. Merpati Nusantara, Garuda Group has three services daily to Jakarta, one flight to Palembang and Medan, three flights a week every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday to Pekanbaru and two flights a week to Batam v.v. on Thursday and Sunday. Merpati Nusantara has one flight a week every Tuesday to Rokot (Mentawai Islands). Mandala and two flights a week to Batam every Monday and Saturday.
There is fortnightly ship service to Jakarta by MV.Kerinci from Teluk Bayur harbor. The voyage takes some 30 hours. There are also some small vessels from Muara Harbour to some small towns along the west coast of Sumatera. There are regular bus services between Padang and Bukittinggi and other major cities of Sumatera, and via the trans-Sumatera Highway to Jakarta, and onward to Denpasar.
North Sumatera is one of the 27 province of the nation. Along the length of this province crosses the Bukit Barisan mountains with peaks of numerous volcanoes. In between are several lakes, one among them is the famous Toba Lake. The land has thick virgin forests, lush vegetation, rice fields, mountain streams, rivers, waterfalls and sandy beaches.
It has rich flora and fauna. An abundance of birds, butterflies, buffaloes, deer, mouse deer, orang utans and many other export commodities make North Sumatera one of the richest province in Indonesia, as it produces more than 30% of Indonesia's exports. The province offers the visitors, especially nature lovers, beautiful tropical panoramas, terraced rice fields, blue mountains, jungle covered hills, white sandy beaches, music, dance and folk arts.
The people are hospitable and warm. the major tribes are the Malays of the eastern coast, the Bataks consisting of sub-tribes such as Toba, Simalungun, Pak Pak (Dairi), Karonese of the highlands around Lake Toba, the Mandailing and Angkolas from southern part and Nias Island is inhabited by the Nias tribe, off the western coast of the province. Besides them are several ethnic groups who live in Medan and other towns of North Sumatera. The largest groups are Chinese and Indian, naturalized Indonesian citizen. Other Indonesian tribes like Acehnese, Minangkabau, Javanese,etc. Also live in many parts here. Each of the region a paradise for social scientists. Among the ancient Indonesian cultures which can be seen at Samosir island are the centuries old tombs of Batak Toba kings and a stone table with its benches, where meetings were formerly held by the Siallagan chiefs.
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