|— Province —|
|Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh|
|Motto: "Udép Beu Saré, Maté Beu Sajan"(Acehnese),
"Live with dignity, in death as well"
|• Governor||Zaini Abdullah|
|• Total||58,375.83 km2 (22,539.03 sq mi)|
|• Density||86/km2 ( 220/sq mi)|
|• Ethnic groups||79% Acehnese
7% Gayo Lut
5% Gayo Luwes
|• Religion||98.19% Muslim
0.07% Roman Catholicism
|• Languages||Indonesian (official)
|Time zone||WIB (UTC+7)|
Aceh (//; [ʔaˈtɕɛh]) (or Acheen (former British pron.) ; Atjeh (Dutch) ; Acheh (Internationally well-known)) is a special region of Indonesia. Aceh is located at the northern end of Sumatra. Its capital is Banda Aceh and its population is approximately 5,046,000. It is close to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India and separated from them by the Andaman Sea.
Aceh is thought to have been the place where the Spread of Islam in Indonesia started, and was a key part of the Spread of Islam in Southeast Asia. In the early seventeenth century the Sultanate of Aceh was the most wealthy, powerful and cultivated state in the Malacca Straits region. Aceh has a history of political independence and fierce resistance to control by outsiders, including the former Dutch colonists and the Indonesian government.
Aceh has substantial natural resources, including oil and natural gas—some estimates put Aceh gas reserves as being the largest in the world. Relative to most of Indonesia, it is a religiously conservative area. It has the highest proportion of Muslims in Indonesia, mainly living according to Sharia customs and laws.
Aceh was the closest point of land to the epicenter of the massive 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, and tsunami, which devastated much of the western coast of the province. Approximately 170,000 Indonesians were killed or went missing in the disaster. The disaster helped reach the peace agreement between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
Aceh was first known as Aceh Darussalam (1511–1959) and then later as the Daerah Istimewa Aceh (1959–2001), Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam (2001–2009) and Aceh (2009–present). Past spellings of Aceh include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin.
The first evidence of human habitation in Aceh is from a site near the Tamiang River where shell middens are present. Stone tools and faunal remains were also found on the site. Archeologists believe the site was first occupied around 10,000 BC.
The beginnings of Islam in Southeast Asia 
Evidence concerning the initial coming and subsequent establishment of Islam in Southeast Asia is thin and inconclusive. The historian Anthony Reid has argued that the region of the Cham people on the south-central coast of Vietnam was one of the earliest Islamic centers in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, as the Cham people fled the Vietnamese, one of the earliest locations that they established a relationship with was Aceh. Furthermore, it is thought that one of the earliest centers of Islam was in the Aceh region. When Venetian traveller Marco Polo passed by Sumatra on his way home from China in 1292 he found that Perlak was a Muslim town while nearby 'Basma(n)' and 'Samara' were not. 'Basma(n)' and 'Samara' are often said to be Pasai and Samudra but evidence is inconclusive. The gravestone of Sultan Malik as-Salih, the first Muslim ruler of Samudra, has been found and is dated AH 696 (AD 1297). This is the earliest clear evidence of a Muslim dynasty in the Indonesia-Malay area and more gravestones from the thirteenth century show that this region continued under Muslim rule. Ibn Batutah, a Moroccan traveller, passing through on his way to China in 1345 and 1346, found that the ruler of Samudra was a follower of the Shafi'i school of Islam.
The Portuguese apothecary Tome Pires reported in his early sixteenth century book Suma Oriental that most of the kings of Sumatra from Aceh through to Palembang were Muslim. At Pasai, in what is now the North Aceh Regency, there was a thriving international port. Pires attributed the establishment of Islam in Pasai to the 'cunning' of the Muslim merchants. The ruler of Pasai, however, had not been able to convert the people of the interior.
Sultanate of Aceh 
The Sultanate of Aceh was established by Sultan Ali Mughayatsyah in 1511. Then, During its golden era) in the 15th century, its territory and political influence expanded as far as Satun in southern Thailand, Johor in Malay Peninsula, and Siak in what is today the province of Riau. As was the case with most non-Javan pre-colonial states, Acehnese power expanded outward by sea rather than inland. As it expanded down the Sumatran coast, its main competitors were Johor and Portuguese Malacca on the other side of the Straits of Malacca. It was this seaborne trade focus that saw Aceh rely on rice imports from north Java rather than develop self sufficiency in rice production.
After the Portuguese occupation of Malacca in 1511, many Islamic traders passing the Malacca Straits shifted their trade to Banda Aceh and increased Acehnese rulers' wealth. During the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda in 17th century, Aceh's influence extended to most of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Aceh allied itself with the Ottoman Empire and the Dutch East India Company in their struggle against the Portuguese and the Johor Sultanate. Acehnese military power waned gradually thereafter, and Aceh ceded its territory of Pariaman in Sumatra to the Dutch in 18th century.
By the early nineteenth century, however, Aceh had become an increasingly influential power due to its strategic location for controlling regional trade. In the 1820s it was the producer of over half the world's supply of black pepper. The pepper trade produced new wealth for the Sultanate and for the rulers of many smaller nearby ports that had been under Aceh's control, but were now able to assert more independence. These changes initially threatened Aceh's integrity, but a new sultan Tuanku Ibrahim, who controlled the kingdom from 1838 to 1870, reasserted power over nearby ports.
Under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 the British ceded their colonial possessions on Sumatra to the Dutch. In the treaty, the British described Aceh as one of their possessions, although they had no actual control over the Sultanate. Initially, under the agreement the Dutch agreed to respect Aceh's independence. In 1871, however, the British dropped previous opposition to a Dutch invasion of Aceh, possibly to prevent France or the United States from gaining a foothold in the region. Although neither the Dutch nor the British knew the specifics, there had been rumors since the 1850s that Aceh had been in communication with rulers of France and of the Ottoman Empire.
Aceh War 
Pirates operating out of Aceh threatened commerce in the Strait of Malacca; the sultan was unable to control them. Britain was a protector of Aceh and gave the Netherlands permission to eradicate the pirates. The campaign quickly drove out the sultan but the local leaders mobilized and fought the Dutch in four decades of guerrilla war, with high levels of atrocities. The Dutch colonial government declared war on Aceh on 26 March 1873. Aceh sought American help but was rejected by Washington.
The Dutch tried one strategy after another over the course of four decades. An expedition under Major General Johan Harmen Rudolf Köhler in 1873 occupied most of the coastal areas. It was his strategy to attack and take the Sultan's palace. It failed. They then tried a naval blockade, reconciliation, concentration within a line of forts, then passive containment. They had scant success. Reaching 15 to 20 million guilders a year, the heavy spending for failed strategies nearly bankrupted the colonial government.
The Aceh army was rapidly modernized, and Aceh soldiers managed to kill Köhler (a monument to this achievement has been built inside Grand Mosque of Banda Aceh). Köhler made some grave tactical errors and the reputation of the Dutch was severely harmed. In addition, in recent years in line with expanding international attention to human rights issues and atrocities in war zones, there has been increasing discussion about the some of the recorded acts of cruelty and slaughter committed by Dutch troops during the period of warfare in Aceh.
Hasan Mustafa (1852–1930) was a chief 'penghulu,' or judge, for the colonial government and was stationed in Aceh. He had to balance traditional Muslim justice with Dutch law. To stop the Aceh rebellion, Hasan Mustafa issued a fatwa, telling the Muslims there in 1894, "It is Incumbent upon the Indonesian Muslims to be loyal to the Dutch East Indies Government".
Japanese occupation 
During World War II, Japanese troops occupied Aceh. Religious ulama party gained ascendancy to replace district warlords (uleebalang) party formerly collaborating with the Dutch. Concrete bunkers still line the northern-most beaches.
Indonesian independence 
After World War II, civil war erupted in 1945 between district warlords party, supporting the return of Dutch government and religious ulama party, supporting newly proclaimed Indonesia State. The latter party won, and the area remained free during Indonesian War of Independence. The Dutch military itself never attempted to invade Aceh. The civil war put the religious ulama party leader, Daud Bereueh, as military governor of Aceh.
Islamic rebellion 
After the transfer of authority from Dutch Government to the Indonesian State in 1949, Aceh was amalgamated with the nearby province of North Sumatra, leading to resentment from many Acehnese due to many ethnic differences between themselves and the mostly Christian Batak people who dominate North Sumatra. This resentment resulted in the Achinese Rebellion of 1953-59. It was led by led by Daud Bereueh, who had been military governor of Aceh before its annexation, Rallying to the banner of an Islamic state in September, 1953, an armed rebellion targeted the Indonesian government. Its main tactic was by attacking police and army posts in an attempt to obtain more weapons for a full-scale rebellion, but it had little success. Scattered guerrilla fighting continued until a cease-fire began in March 1957. In 1959 the government yielded in part and gave Aceh a "special territory" (daerah istimewa) status, giving it a greater degree of religious autonomy from the central government in Jakarta than most other regions of Indonesia have. For example, the regional government is empowered to construct a legal system independent of the national government. In 2003, a form of sharia, or Islamic law, was formally introduced in Aceh. In 1963, Daud Bereueh signed a peace agreement, marking the end of Islamic Rebellion.
- = Acting governor, in place until a full governor was formerly appointed
|No.||Portrait||Name||Took Office||Left Office|
|1.||Teuku Nyak Arif||1945||1946|
|2.||Teuku Daud Syah||1947||1948|
|3.||Tgk Daud Beureu'eh||1948||1952|
|4.||Teuku Sulaiman Daud||1952||1953|
|7.||Prof. Dr. Ali Hasjmy||1957||1964|
|8.||Nyak Adam Kamil||1964||1966|
|9.||H. Asbi Wahidi||1966||1967|
|10.||Abdullah Muzakir Walad||1967||1978|
|11.||Abdul Madjid Ibrahim||1978||1981|
|*||H. Eddy Sabara||1981||1981|
|13.||Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Hassan||1986||1993|
|14.||Prof. Dr. Syamsudin Mahmud||1993||21 June 2000|
|*||Ramli Ridwan||21 Juni 2000||November 2000|
|15.||Abdullah Puteh||November 2000||19 July 2004|
|*||Azwar Abubakar||19 July 2004||30 December 2005|
|*||Mustafa Abubakar||30 December 2005||8 February 2007|
|16.||Irwandi Yusuf||8 February 2007||8 February 2012|
|*||Tarmizi Abdul Karim||8 February 2012||25 June 2012|
|17.||Zaini Abdullah||25 June 2012||Incumbent|
Free Aceh Movement 
During 1970s, under agreement with Indonesian central government, American oil and gas companies began exploitation of Aceh natural resources. Alleged unequal distribution of profit between central government and native people of Aceh induced Hasan di Tiro, former ambassador of Darul Islam, to call for Independent Aceh. He proclaimed Aceh Independence in 1976.
The movement had a small number of followers initially, and Hasan di Tiro himself had to live in exile in Sweden. Meanwhile, the province followed Suharto's policy of economic development and industrialization. During late 80s several security incidents prompted the Indonesian central government to take repressive measures and to send troops to Aceh. Human rights abuse was rampant for the next decade, resulting in many grievances on the part of the Acehnese toward the Indonesian central government. In 1990, the Indonesian government initiated a military operations against GAM by deploying more than 12.000 Indonesian army in the region.
During late 90s, chaos in Java and an ineffective central government gave an advantage to Free Aceh Movement and resulted in the second phase of the rebellion, this time with large support from the Acehnese people. This support was demonstrated during the 1999 plebiscite in Banda Aceh which was attended by nearly half million people (of four million population of the province). Indonesian central government responded in 2001 by broadening Aceh's autonomy by giving its government the right to apply sharia law more broadly and the right to receive direct foreign investment. This was again accompanied by repressive measures, however and in 2003 an offensive began and a state of emergency was proclaimed in the Province. The war was still going on when the Tsunami Disaster of 2004 struck the province.
Exxon Mobil human rights abuse lawsuit 
On June 21, 2001 11 villagers from an Acehnese village in the North Aceh Regency used the Alien Tort Claims Act to sue Exxon Mobil in United States federal court for human rights abuses at the Arun natural gas field. The villagers claim they were tortured, raped, or murdered by soldiers from the Indonesian military. They claimed that Exxon Mobil created barracks to be used for torture of detainees and gave the Indonesian military unit which guarded the Exxon-Mobil natural gas field heavy equipment to cover mass burials after a clash with separatists. Exxon Mobil reportedly shut down the site because of escalating violence. The villagers need to reveal their identities in order to receive Indonesian government protection, but are reluctant to do so for fear of reprisals from the Indonesian military.
Tsunami disaster 
The western coastal areas of Aceh, including the cities of Banda Aceh, Calang, and Meulaboh, were among the areas hardest-hit by the tsunami resulting from the Indian Ocean earthquake on 26 December 2004. While estimates vary, over 170,000 people were killed by tsunami in Aceh and about 500,000 were left homeless. The tragedy of the tsunami was further compounded several months later on 26 March 2005 when a second off-shore earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale struck the sea bed between the islands of Simeulue Island in Aceh and Nias in North Sumatra. This second quake killed a further 905 people on Nias and Simeulue, displaced tens of thousands more, and caused the tsunami response to be expanded to include Nias.
The population of Aceh before the December 2004 tsunami was 4,271,000 (2004). The population as of 15 September 2005 was 4,031,589.
As of February 2006, more than a year after the tsunami, a large number of people were still living in barrack-style temporary living centers (TLC) or tents. Reconstruction was visible everywhere, but due to the sheer scale of the disaster, and logistical issues, progress was slow.
The ramifications of the tsunami went beyond the immediate impact to the lives and infrastructure of the Acehnese living on the coast. Since the disaster, the Acehnese rebel movement GAM, which had been fighting for independence against the Indonesian authorities for 29 years, has signed a peace deal (August 15, 2005). The perception that the tsunami was punishment for insufficient piety in this proudly Muslim province is partly behind the increased emphasis on the importance of religion post-tsunami. This has been most obvious in the increased implementation of Sharia law, including the introduction of the controversial 'WH' or Syariah police. As homes are being built and people's basic needs are met, the people are also looking to improve the quality of education, increase tourism, and develop responsible, sustainable industry. Well-qualified educators are in high demand in Aceh.
While parts of the capital Banda Aceh were unscathed, the areas closest to the water, especially the areas of Kampung Jawa and Meuraxa, were completely destroyed. Most of the rest of the western coast of Aceh was severely damaged. Many towns completely disappeared. Other towns on Aceh's west coast hit by the disaster included Lhoknga, Leupung, Lamno, Patek, Calang, Teunom, and the island of Simeulue. Affected or destroyed towns on the region's north & east coast were Pidie Regency, Samalanga, and Lhokseumawe.
The area was slowly rebuilt after the disaster. The government initially proposed the creation of a two-kilometer buffer zone along low-lying coastal areas within which permanent construction was not permitted. This proposal was unpopular among some local inhabitants and proved impractical in most situations, especially fishing families that are dependent on living near to the sea.
The Indonesian government set up a special agency for Aceh reconstruction, the Badan Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstruksi (BRR) headed by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, a former Indonesian Minister. This agency had ministry level of authority and incorporated officials, professionals and community leaders from all backgrounds. Most of the reconstruction work was performed by local people using a mix of traditional methods and partial prefabricated structures, with funding coming from many international organizations and individuals, governments, and the people themselves.
The Government of Indonesia estimated in their Preliminary Damage and Losses Assessment that damages amounted to US$4.5 billion (before inflation, and US$6.2 billion including inflation). Three years after the tsunami, reconstruction was still ongoing. The World Bank monitored funding for reconstruction in Aceh and reported that US$7.7 billion had been earmarked for the reconstruction whilst at June 2007 US$5.8 billion had been allocated to specific reconstruction projects, of which US$3.4 billion had actually been spent (58%).
On April 11, 2012 a Magnitude 8.7 earthquake struck in the Aceh, and tsunami warnings were issued to 28 countries.
The peace agreement and first local elections 
The 2004 tsunami helped trigger a peace agreement between the GAM and the Indonesian government. The tsunami drew international attention to the conflict, wiped out many supplies, and killed many personnel from both sides. Earlier efforts at peace negotiations had failed but, for a number of reasons including the tsunami, there was a renewed willingness to try to negotiate a peace accord in 2005 after 29 years of war. The mood in post-Suharto Indonesia in the liberal-democratic reform period, as well as changes in the Indonesian military, helped create an environment more favorable to peace talks. The roles of newly elected president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and vice president Jusuf Kalla were highly significant. At the same time, the GAM leadership was undergoing changes, and the Indonesian military had arguably inflicted so much damage on the rebel movement that it had little choice but to negotiate with the central government. The peace talks were facilitated by a Finland-based NGO, the Crisis Management Initiative, and led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. The resulting peace agreement, generally known as the Helsinki MOU, was signed on August 15, 2005. Under the agreement Aceh would receive special autonomy and government troops would be withdrawn from the province in exchange for GAM's disarmament. As part of the agreement, the European Union dispatched 300 monitors. Their mission expired on December 15, 2006, following local elections.
Aceh has been granted broader autonomy through Aceh Government Legislation covering special rights agreed upon in 2002 as well as the right of the Acehnese to establish local political parties to represent their interests. Human rights advocates protested that previous human rights violations in the province needed to be addressed, however.
During elections for the provincial governor held in December 2006, the former GAM and national parties participated. The election was won by Irwandi Yusuf, whose base of support consisted largely of ex-GAM members.
Within the country, Aceh is governed not as a province but as a special territory (daerah istimewa), an administrative designation intended to give the area increased autonomy from the central government in Jakarta.
Regional elections have been held in Aceh in recent years for senior positions at the provincial and regency (district, or kabupaten) level. In the 2006 elections, Irwandi Yusuf was elected as the provincial governor for 2007-2012 and in elections in April 2012 Zaini Abdullah was elected as governor for 2012-2017.
Beginning with the promulgation of Law 44/1999, Aceh’s governor began to issue limited Sharia-based regulations, for example requiring female government employees to wear Islamic dress. These regulations were not enforced by the provincial government, but as early as April 1999, reports emerged that groups of men in Aceh were engaging in vigilante violence in an effort to impose Sharia, for example, by conducting “ jilbab raids,” subjecting women who were not wearing Islamic headscarves to verbal abuse, cutting their hair or clothes, and committing other acts of violence against them. The frequency of these and other attacks on individuals considered to be violating Sharia principles appeared to increase following the enactment of Law 44/1999 and the governor’s Sharia regulations.
Upon the enactment of the Special Autonomy Law in 2001, Aceh’s provincial legislature enacted a series of qanuns (local laws) governing the implementation of Sharia. Five qanuns enacted between 2002 and 2004 contained criminal penalties for violations of Sharia: Qanun 11/2002 on “belief, ritual, and promoting Islam,” which contains the Islamic attire requirement; Qanun 12/2003 prohibiting the consumption and sale of alcohol; Qanun 13/2003 prohibiting gambling; Qanun 14 /2003 prohibiting “seclusion”; and Qanun 7/2004 on the payment of Islamic alms. With the exception of gambling, none of the offenses are prohibited outside of Aceh.
Responsibility for enforcement of the qanuns rests both with the National Police and with a special Sharia police force unique to Aceh, known as the Wilayatul Hisbah (Sharia Authority). All of the qanuns provide for penalties including fines, imprisonment, and caning, the latter a punishment unknown in most parts of Indonesia. Between mid-2005 and early 2007, at least 135 people were caned in Aceh for transgressing the qanuns.
In April 2009, Partai Aceh won control of the local parliament in Aceh’s first post-war legislative elections. In September 2009, one month before the new legislators were to take office, the outgoing parliament unanimously endorsed two new qanuns to expand the existing criminal Sharia framework in Aceh. One bill, the Qanun on Criminal Procedure (Qanun Hukum Jinayat), to create an entirely new procedural code for the enforcement of Sharia by police, prosecutors, and courts in Aceh.
The other bill, the Qanun on Criminal Law (Qanun Jinayat), reiterated the existing criminal Sharia prohibitions, at times enhancing their penalties, and a host of new criminal offenses, including ikhtilat (intimacy or mixing), zina (adultery, defined as willing intercourse by unmarried people), sexual harassment, rape, and homosexual conduct. The law authorized punishments including up to 60 lashes for “intimacy,” up to 100 lashes for engaging in homosexual conduct, up to 100 lashes for adultery by unmarried persons, and death by stoning for adultery by a married person.
Administrative divisions 
Administratively, the province is subdivided into 18 regencies (kabupaten) and 5 autonomous cities (kota). The capital and the largest city is Banda Aceh, located on the coast near the northern tip of Sumatra. Some local areas are pushing to create new autonomous areas, usually with the stated goal of enhancing local control over politics and development.
The cities and regencies are subdivided into the subdistricts of Aceh.
|Name||Capital||Est.||Statute||Area (in km²)||Population
|Banda Aceh (city)||1956||UU 24/1956||61.36||224,209|
|Aceh Besar Regency||Jantho||1956||UU 24/1956||2,969.00||350,225|
|Aceh Jaya Regency||Calang||2002||UU 4/2002||3,817.00||76,892|
|Pidie Regency||Sigli||1956||UU 24/1956||2,856.52||378,278|
|Pidie Jaya Regency||Meureudu||2007||UU 7/2007||574.44||132,858|
|Bireuen Regency||Bireuen||1999||UU 48/1999||1,901.22||389,024|
|North Aceh (Aceh Utara) Regency||Lhoksukon||1956||UU 24/1956||3,236.86||529,746|
|Lhokseumawe (city)||2001||UU 2/2001||181.06||170,504|
|Bener Meriah Regency||Simpang Tiga Redelong||2003||UU 41/2003||1,457.34||121,870|
|Central Aceh (Aceh Tengah) Regency||Takengon||1956||UU 24/1956||4,315.14||175,329|
|West Aceh (Aceh Barat) Regency||Meulaboh||1956||UU 24/1956||2,927.95||172,896|
|Nagan Raya Regency||Suka Makmue||2002||UU 4/2002||3,928.00||138,670|
|Southwest Aceh (Aceh Barat Daya) Regency||Blangpidie||2002||UU 4/2002||2,334.01||125,991|
|Gayo Lues Regency||Blangkejeren||2002||UU 4/2002||5,719.57||79,592|
|East Aceh (Aceh Timur) Regency||Idi Rayeuk||1956||UU 24/1956||6,040.60||359,280|
|Langsa (city)||2001||UU 3/2001||262.41||148,904|
|Aceh Tamiang Regency||Karang Baru||2002||UU 4/2002||1,939.72||250,992|
|Southeast Aceh (Aceh Tenggara) Regency||Kutacane||1974||UU 7/1974||4,189.26||178,852|
|South Aceh (Aceh Selatan) Regency||Tapaktuan||1956||UU 24/1956||3,851.69||202,003|
|Subulussalam (city)||2007||UU 8/2007||1,011.00||67,316|
|Aceh Singkil Regency
(including the Banyak Islands)
|Simeulue Regency||Sinabang||1999||UU 48/1999||2,051.48||80,279|
- UU is an abbreviation from Undang-Undang (the Indonesia statute of law).
Ecology and biodiversity 
Aceh has the largest range of biodiversity in the Asian Pacific region. Among the rarer large mammals are the Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran tiger, orangutan and Sumatran elephant. The area has been suffering from deforestation since the 1970s. The first pulp mill in Aceh was built in 1982.
In 2006, economy of Aceh grew by 7.7% after having minimal growth since the devastating tsunami. This growth was primarily driven by the reconstruction effort with massive growth in the building/construction sector.
The ending of the conflict, and the reconstruction program resulted in the structure of the economy changing significantly since 2003. Service sectors played a more dominant role whilst the share of the oil and gas sectors continued to decline.
|Sector (% share of Aceh GDP)||2003||2004||2005||2006|
|Agriculture and fisheries||17||20||21||21|
|Oil, Gas and Mining||36||30||26||25|
|Manufacturing (incl oil & gas manufact)||20||18||16||14|
|Electricity and Water Supply||...||...||...||...|
|Building / Construction||3||4||4||5|
|Trade, hotels and restaurants||11||12||14||15|
|Transport & Communication||3||4||5||5|
|Banking & other Financial||1||1||1||1|
NB: ... = less than 0.5%
After peaking at around 40% in December 2005, largely as a result of the Dutch disease impact of sudden aid flows into the province, inflation declined steadily and was 8.5% in June 2007, close to the national level in Indonesia of 5.7%. Persistent inflation means that Aceh's consumer price index (CPI) remains the highest in Indonesia. As a result, Aceh's cost competitiveness has declined as reflected in both inflation and wage data. Although inflation has slowed down, CPI has registered steady increases since the tsunami. Using 2002 as a base, Aceh's CPI increased to 185.6 (June 2007) while the national CPI increased to 148.2. There have been relatively large nominal wage increases in particular sectors, such as construction where, on average, workers' nominal wages have risen to almost Rp.60,000 per day, from Rp.29,000 pre-tsunami. This is also reflected in Aceh's minimum regional wage (UMR, or Upah Minimum Regional), which increased by 55% from Rp.550,000 pre-tsunami to Rp.850,000 in 2007, compared with an increase of 42% in neighboring North Sumatra, from Rp.537,000 to Rp.761,000.
Poverty levels increased slightly in Aceh in 2005 after the tsunami, but by less than expected. The poverty level then fell in 2006 to below the pre-tsunami level, suggesting that the rise in tsunami-related poverty was short lived and reconstruction activities and the end of the conflict most probably facilitated this decline. However, poverty in Aceh remains significantly higher than in the rest of Indonesia. A large number of the Acehnese remain vulnerable to poverty, reinforcing the need for further sustained efforts at development in the post-tsunami construction period.
Ethnic and cultural groups 
Aceh is a diverse region occupied by several ethnic and language groups. The major ethnic groups are the Acehnese (who are distributed throughout Aceh), Gayo (in central and eastern part), Alas (in Southeast Aceh Regency), Tamiang-Malays (in Aceh Tamiang Regency), Aneuk Jamee (descendant from Minangkabau, concentrated in southern and southwestern), Kluet (in South Aceh Regency), and Simeulue (on Simeulue Island). There is also a significant population of Chinese, who are influential in the business and financial communities. Among the present day Acehnese can be found some individuals of Arab, Turkish, and Indian descent. Before the tsunami, the region of Meureuhom Daya (Lamno) used to have an unusually high number of people with fair complexions, blue eyes and blond hair, which local traditions attributed to Turkish or Portuguese ancestry.
The Acehnese language is widely spoken within the Acehnese population. This is a member of the Aceh-Chamic group of languages, whose other representatives are mostly found in Vietnam and Cambodia, and is also closely related to the Malay group of languages. Acehnese also has many words borrowed from Malay and Arabic and traditionally was written using Arabic script. Acehnese is also used as local language in Langkat and Asahan (North Sumatra), and Kedah (Malaysia), and once dominated Penang. Alas and Kluet are closely related languages within the Batak group. The Jamee language originated from Minangkabau language in West Sumatra, with just a few variations and differences.
According to 2010 census of the Central Statistics Agency, Muslims dominate Aceh province with more than 98% or 4,413,200 followers and only 50,300 Protestants and 3,310 Catholics.
Religious issues are often sensitive in Aceh. There is very strong support for Islam across the province and sometimes other religious groups, such as Christians or Buddhists, feel that they are subject to social or community pressure to limit their activities. For example, in late 2012 nine Christian churches and five Buddhist temples were closed in Banda Aceh on the orders of the Aceh provincial government. The official explanation for this action, supported by both the Governor of Aceh Zaini Abdullah and the Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi from Jakarta, was that the churches did not have the appropriate permits. Earlier in April 2012, a number of churches in the Singkil regency in southern Aceh had also been ordered to close. In response, some Christians voiced concern about these actions.
Population census 
|Source: Badan Pusat Statistik 2010|
The population of Aceh was not adequately documented during the Indonesia 2000 census because the insurgency complicated the process of collecting accurate information. An estimated 170,000 people died in Aceh in the 2004 tsunami which further complicates the task of careful demographic analysis. According to the most recent (2010) census, the total population of Aceh in 2010 was 4,486,570.
- Singa dan Burak menghiasi lambang Aceh dalam rancangan Qanun (Lion and Buraq decorate the coat of arms of Aceh in the Draft Regulation) Atjeh Post, 19 November 2012.
- (Indonesian) Central Bureau of Statistics: Census 2010, retrieved 17 January 2011.
- "INDONESIA: Population and Administrative Divisions". The Permanent Committee on Geographical Names. 2003.
- Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 2003.
- How An Escape Artist Became Aceh's Governor, Time Magazine, Feb. 15, 2007
- Map of areas with Sharia influence in law.
- United Nations. Economic and social survey of Asia and the Pacific 2005. 2005, page 172
- Daniel Perret (24 February 2007). "Aceh as a Field for Ancient History Studies". Asia Research Institute-National University of Singapore. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
- Reid (1988 and 1993)
- Ricklefs (1991), page 4
- Ricklefs (1991), page 7
- Ricklefs (1991), page 17
- *D. G. E. Hall, A History of South-east Asia. London: Macmillan, 1955.
- Ricklefs, M.C. (2001) A history of modern Indonesia since c.1200. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p185-188.
- Nicholas Tarling, ed. (1992). The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: Volume 2, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Cambridge U.P. p. 104. ISBN 9780521355063.
- E.H. Kossmann, The Low Countries 1780-1940 (1978) pp 400-401
- Linawati Sidarto, 'Images of a grisly past', The Jakarta Post: Weekender, July 2011 
- Mufti Ali, "A Study of Hasan Mustafa's 'Fatwa: 'It Is Incumbent upon the Indonesian Muslims to be Loyal to the Dutch East Indies Government,'" Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, April 2004, Vol. 52 Issue 2, pp 91–122
- *M Nur El-Ibrahimy, Peranan Teungku M. Daud Bereueh dalam Pergolakan di Aceh, 2001.
- *A.H. Nasution, Seputar Perang Kemerdekaan Indonesia, Jilid II, 1977
- "Aceh's Sharia court opens". BBC News. 4 March 2003.
- Banerjee, Neela (2001-06-21). "Lawsuit Says Exxon Aided Rights Abuses". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- For details of the impact of the tsunami in Aceh, see Jayasuriya, Sisira and Peter McCawley in collaboration with Bhanupong Nidhiprabha, Budy P. Resosudarmo and Dushni Weerakoon, The Asian Tsunami: Aid and Reconstruction after a Disaster, Cheltenham UK and Northampton MA USA: Edward Elgar and Asian Development Bank Institute, 2010.
- Preliminary Damage and Losses Assessment on web.worldbank.org
- Indonesia – Tsunami & Earthquake Reconstruction[dead link]
- Indonesia Opens Tsunami Museum. The Irrawaddy. March/April 2009. p. 3
- [dead link]
- A very useful and detailed account of the negotiation process from the Indonesian side is in the book by the Indonesian key negotiator, Hamid Awaludin, Peace in Aceh: Notes on the peace process between the Republic of Indonesia and the Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM) in Helsinki, translated by Tim Scott, 2009, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta. ISBN 978-979-1295-11-6.
- Asia Times Online :: Southeast Asia news – A happy, peaceful anniversary in Aceh
- Hillman, Ben (2012). "'Power Sharing and Political Party Engineering in Conflict-Prone Societies: The Indonesian Experiment in Aceh". Conflict Security and Development 12 (2): 149–169. doi:10.1080/14678802.2012.688291.
- Next steps for Aceh after the peace pact | Human Rights Watch
- "Policing Morality Abuses in the Application of Sharia in Aceh, Indonesia". Human Rights Watch. 2010. pp. 13–17. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- Simanjuntak, Hotli and Sangaji, Ruslan (20 May 2013). "Scientists urged to stand up for Aceh’s biodiversity". The Jakarta Post.
- McGregor, Andrew (2010). "Green and REDD? Towards a Political Ecology of Deforestation in Aceh, Indonesia". Human Geography 3 (2): 21–34.
- "Aceh: ecological war zone". Down to Earth (47). 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
- World Bank, Jakarta, Aceh Economic Update November 2007.
- World Bank, Jakarta, Aceh Poverty Assessment 2008.
- A useful survey of the state of development up to 2010 is in the UNDP Provincial Human Development Report Aceh 2010.
- Edward Aspinall, Ben Hillman, and Peter McCawley, Governance and capacity-building in post-crisis Aceh', a report by Australian National University Enterprise, Canberra, for UNDP, Jakarta, 2012.
- zaman.com; ari.nus.edu.sg; ari.nus.edu.sg; turkishtime.org[dead link]
- "Regent orders churches closed, destroyed in Aceh". Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- Bagus BT Saragih, 'Closed churches lack permits: Gamawan', The Jakarta Pose, 25 October 2012.
- Jumlah penduduk Aceh 4.486.570 jiwa
Further reading 
- Bowen, J. R. (1991). Sumatran politics and poetics : Gayo history, 1900–1989. New Haven, Yale University Press.
- Bowen, J. R. (2003). Islam, Law, and Equality in Indonesia Cambridge University Press
- Iwabuchi, A. (1994). The people of the Alas Valley : a study of an ethnic group of Northern Sumatra. Oxford, England ; New York, Clarendon Press.
- McCarthy, J. F. (2006). The Fourth Circle. A Political Ecology of Sumatra's Rainforest Frontier, Stanford University Press.
- Miller, Michelle Ann. (2009). Rebellion and Reform in Indonesia. Jakarta's Security and Autonomy Policies in Aceh. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-45467-4
- Siegel, James T. 2000. The rope of God. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08682-0; A classic ethnographic and historical study of Aceh, and Islam in the region. Originally published in 1969
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- (Indonesian) Official website