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Other transcription(s)
 • Jawi ميدن
 • Chinese 棉蘭
 • Tamil மேடான்
Mesdjid Raya Medan - panoramio.jpg Balaikota St. n Grand Aston Htl Medan " - panoramio.jpg
IstanaMaimum WEB-1.jpg
Former Varekamp & Co. bookstore and printing in Medan.jpg Bank Mandiri in Medan's Lapangan Merdeka.jpg
From top left to right:
Medan city centre, Medan Great Mosque, Old City Hall area, Maimoon Palace and various old buildings around Jalan Kesawan.
Official seal of Medan
Nickname(s): Parijs Van Sumatra (Dutch)
Motto: Bekerja sama dan sama-sama bekerja
(Working together and everybody work)
Location of Medan
Location of Medan
Medan is located in Indonesia
Location of Medan
Coordinates: 3°35′N 98°40′E / 3.583°N 98.667°E / 3.583; 98.667Coordinates: 3°35′N 98°40′E / 3.583°N 98.667°E / 3.583; 98.667
Country Indonesia
Province North Sumatra
Founded 1 July 1590
 • Mayor Dzulmin Eldin [1]
 • Vice Mayor Akhyar Nasution
 • City 265.10 km2 (102.36 sq mi)
 • Metro 1,991.1 km2 (768.8 sq mi)
Elevation 2.5–37.5 m (8–123 ft)
Population (2010 census)
 • City 2,097,610
 • Density 7,900/km2 (20,000/sq mi)
 • Urban 2,046,973
 • Metro 4,103,696
 • Metro density 2,100/km2 (5,300/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Medanese
Time zone WIB (UTC+7)
Area code(s) +62 61
Vehicle registration BK
Website Official Government Website

Medan (Indonesian pronunciation: [meˈdan]; Indonesian: Kota Medan) is the capital of North Sumatra province in Indonesia. Located along the northeastern coast of Sumatra Island, Medan is the third biggest city in Indonesia, behind Jakarta and Surabaya.[2][3][4] With 2,097,610 inhabitants at the 2010 census, Medan remains the largest settlement outside of Java Island.[5] Bordered by the Strait of Malacca, Medan is a busy trading city as the strait is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. Medan is the gateway to the western part of Indonesia, accessible via the Port of Belawan and Kuala Namu International Airport (the second largest airport in Indonesia). Both the seaport and the airport are connected to the city center via toll road and railway. Medan became the first city in Indonesia to have an airport supported with train service.

The city was founded by Guru Patimpus, a Karonese man who named a swampy land in confluence of Deli River and Babura river as Kampung Medan (Village of Medan) as the first settlement. In 1632, the Deli Sultanate was established by Tuanku Gocah Pahlawan, who became its first king. In the 18th century, the eighth king, Sultan Mahmud Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam, started a relationship with the Dutch. Jacob Nienhuys, a Dutch tobacco merchant, pioneered the opening of tobacco plantations in Deli Land. The area's name changed to Medan-Deli when it was established by Dutch tobacco commerce after the formation of the Deli Company. With the help from the 9th Sultanate Sultan Ma'mun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam, and also the well-known Chinese businessmen Tjong Yong Hian and Tjong A Fie, the rapid development of the economy transformed Medan-Deli into a big trading center with the nickname het land dollar, aka the land of the money. The Deli Railway was established for shipping rubber, tea, timber, palm oil, and sugar industries from the city to Belawan, a port town located north of Medan. Medan was briefly the capital of the State of East Sumatra, which was established in 1947 as a result of the Dutch "police actions" against newly-independent Indonesia and later became part of the United States of Indonesia from 1949 to 1950. Following the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia, Medan became the capital of North Sumatra in mid-1950.

Medan was dubbed by the Dutch Parijs van Sumatra due to the city's resemblance to Paris. Lamudi, a worldwide real estate portal, recognized Medan as one among six cities in Asia to feature and preserve several colonial architectural sites, while accompanying its growth as a metropolitan city.[6]

In recent years, the city has undergone rapid development, and has seen large scale infrastructure projects such as a new airport, seaport, elevated railroad, toll roads, and a planned mass rapid transit system. Residential property prices in Medan have also trended upward over the period from 2013 to the first quarter of 2015, according to Bank Indonesia (BI). According to BI, Medan’s residential property price index rose from 205.24 in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 212.17 in the fourth quarter of 2014, and to 214.41 in the first quarter of 2015.[7]


According to the diary of a Portuguese merchant in the early 16th century, the name of Medan was actually derived from Tamil word Maidhan, also known as Maidhāṉam (Tamil: மைதானம்), that means Ground, adopted from Malay language. One of the Karo-Indonesia dictionaries written by Darwin Prinst SH published in 2002 stated that Medan could also be defined as "recover" or "be better".


In ancient times the city of Medan was known as Kampung Medan (Medan Village). It was a piece of swampy land with an area of approximately 4000 ha. Some of the rivers crossing the city of Medan drain into the Straits of Malacca. These rivers are Sei Deli, Sei Babura, Sei Sikambing, Sei Denai, Sei Putih, Sei Percut and Muara Belawan.

Founding of Medan[edit]

In early days, the natives called the area as the Land of Deli (Indonesian: Tanah Deli), it starts from Ular River to the Wampu River in Langkat while the Deli Sultanate in power at the time of his territory does not cover the area between the two rivers.

Medan started as a village called Kampung Medan (Medan Village). Kampung Medan was founded by Guru Patimpus Sembiring Pelawi, a Karonese man who came from the Karo Land. Before he became a Muslim, he was a Pemena follower. Following the history of "trombo" and Hamparan Perak (XII Kuta), Guru Patimpus studied Islam from Datuk Kota Bangun. At the time, Guru Patimpus and his people wanted to meet Datuk Kota Bangun. Not only did they want to meet Datuk Kota Bangun, they also wanted to compete with him for power. Whenever Guru Patimpus went to Kota Bangun, he always passed Pulo Brayan. In Pulo Brayan, Guru Patimpus fell in loved with the Princess of Pulo Brayan King. Eventually, he married the princess and had two sons, Kolok and Kecik. After he got married, Guru Patimpus and his wife turned the forest area in confluence between Deli Riverand Babura River into a small village and it was called Kampung Medan. The date when that happened has been marked as the date of Medan anniversary. It happened in July, 1st 1590.[8]

In his days, Guru Patimpus is classified as people who were thinking ahead. This was proved by sending their children studied (study) read the Qur'an to Datuk Kota Bangun and then sent them for deepen about Islam to Aceh.

Statement confirming that the Kampung Medan is a description H. Muhammad Said quoting through the book Deli: In Woord en Beeld written by N. ten Cate. The statement said that at early times the Kampung Medan is a fortress and composed of two layers of wall roundabout-shaped in a confluence between two rivers namely Deli and Babura river. Administrateur house is located across the river from the Kampung Medan. If we see that the location of Kampung Medan are in the Wisma Benteng building now and the Administrateur house is in the present of PTP IX Deli Tobacco building.

Deli Sultanate[edit]

Main article: Deli Sultanate
Tjong A Fie
Tjong A Fie, a kapitan of Medan and one of contributor to the early development in the city.

In the 16th century there was a kingdom called Aru, with its center located where Deli Tua is now (south of Medan). In 1612 the Acehnese Sultan Iskandar Muda defeated Aru. The Acehnese appointed Hisyamsudin (later he changed his name to "Tuanku Gocah Pahlawan"), titled as Laksamana Kuda Bintan as their representative in this kingdom of East Sumatra. In 1632 Aceh established the Deli Sultanate (Jawi: کسلطانن دلي) and Gocah Pahlawan became the first king. Gocah Pahlawan opens a new land in Sungai Lalang and Percut. As Mayor and Deputy of Sultan of Aceh as well as by utilizing the oversized of Aceh Imperium, Gocah Pahlawan managed to expand its territory, thereby covering Percut Sei Tuan and Medan Deli district now. He also founded the villages of Gunung Barus, Sampali, Kota Bangun, Pulo Brayan, Kota Jawa, Kota Rengas and Sigara-gara. He died in 1669 and was followed by his son "Tuangku Panglima Perunggit" who moved the center of the kingdom to Labuhan Deli, which then proclaimed the independence of Deli Sultanate from Aceh Sultanate in 1669, with its capital in Medan Labuhan, approximately 15 km from the city center now.

The third king, "Tuanku Panglima Padrap" (ruled 1698–1728), during his reign, he moved the kingdom to Pulo Brayan due to flood. The fourth king, "Tuanku Panglima Pasutan", (ruled between 1728–1761). He organized the kingdom in four tribes, each led by a Datuk (a Malay title for high ranking persons). The fifth king, "Tuanku Panglima Gandar Wahib", (ruled 1761–1805), during his time the Datuks increased their power.

Sultan Amaluddin, the sixth sultan leaving the Great Mosque on his crowning day, in February 1925

The sixth ruler was "Sultan Amaluddin Mengedar Alam", (ruled 1805–1850). The Siak Sultanate during his years, became a stronger influence in Deli than the Acehnese Sultanate, the ruler was given the title to malayness name: Sultan. The seventh ruler is "Sultan Osman Perkasa Alam" (ruled 1850 to 1858), during his leadership the Deli sultanate became autonomous.

The eighth ruler, "Sultan Mahmud Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam" (ruled 1858–1873) started the relationship with the Dutch, a relationship that became rather intimate. The next ruler are "Sultan Ma'mun Al Rashid Perkasa Alamyah", ruled from 1873 to 1924 when the tobacco trade expanded. He moved the kingdom to Medan and finished the construction of the Maimun Palace in 1888. He also built the grand mosque of Al Ma'shun which is commonly known as (Great Mosque of Medan) now in 1907, he became known as the builder of early Medan in corporation with the Dutch and "Tjong Yong Hian" and Tjong A Fie, a Chinese businessman brother and also a Kapitans who built a large plantation business in Deli. They all bringing Medan-Deli as new development area including business center such as Bank, office, plantation area, housing, railroad and port. The tenth "Sultan Amaluddin Al Sani Perkasa Alamsyah" (ruled 1924–1945) expanded harbors, the commerce increased during his period. At the declaration of Indonesian Independence, the Sultan recognized the sovereignty of the republic and was in return given an important function as administrator of Deli-Malay traditions and culture.

The Sultanate of Deli still are exist till now, even though the administration power has been replaced with Mayor, the current sultan are "Sultan Mahmud Lamanjiji Perkasa Alam" the 14th sultan, (ruled since 2005). Coronated the age of eight, he is the youngest sultan that has been coronated in Deli Sultanate history.

Dutch East Indies era[edit]

Aerial view of Port of Belawan, 1920s
Coolies working in the seed beds on a tobacco plantation in Medan, circa 1900s

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 meant strongly intensified traffic between Europe and the Far East. The Dutch started the shipping company Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland that quickly expanded to 43 steamships in 1877. The English, however, had already 3,000 ships in those days. A journey from Europe to Indonesia took approximately 40 days. Genoa, Italy became the new transit harbor for passenger ships after the opening of the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland. The journey was reduced to 23 days and 20 hours to Batavia (Jakarta). The ships also became bigger and more comfortable.

This resulted in an increase in cruise ships carrying predominantly white European origin came to Dutch East Indies tourists for a tour of the region, including Medan as the largest tobacco plantation in Dutch East Indies at that time. To accommodate the tourists, it is very necessary to have European-class hotels. Therefore, in 1898, a Dutch businessman named Aeint Herman de Boer built Hotel de Boer in the northwest of the Esplanade (now Lapangan Merdeka Medan).

Exports were very dependent on British shipping in 1890 when Sabang became a bunker harbor. Belawan got its harbor in 1923. The shipping company Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (KPM) was established for the purpose of shipping valuable Deli Company tobacco, which was shipped to Batavia. This cargo was almost as valuable and stringent rules regulated its handling. It was strictly forbidden to stow anything on top of the tobacco and coolies were not even to walk on it when they worked in the hatches.[9]

Cleaning of roads in Medan was, until 1912, done by prisoners. After that free coolies got the job. In 1917 the authorities started to use horse-drawn carts, equipped with brooms for the cleaning. In 1928 the horse-drawn carts were replaced by motorized vehicles. The first newspaper was the ‘Deli Courant’, established in 1885. It did not appear daily. In 1898, Joseph Hallermann, a German, established the daily ‘De Sumatra Post’, which survived until 1939.

There were planters in Medan from many countries: England, the Netherlands, USA, France, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland. Many of them became very rich and led an affluent lifestyle. Medan became known as the Paris of Sumatra. Up till today, the area in downtown where the old airport is located is called Polonia, a name given by a Polish aristocrat who once owned a plantation here. One area of Medan is still called Helvetia (the old name of Switzerland). This name was given by a plantation owner from Switzerland.

Tobacco plantation[edit]

painting of Jacob Nienhuys, the founder of tobacco producer Deli Company (Deli Maatschappij) during Dutch East Indies era

Medan has not develop rapidly until the 1860s, when the Dutch authorities began to release new land for tobacco plantations. Jacob Nienhuys, Van der Falk, and Elliot, a Dutch tobacco merchants pioneered the opening of the tobacco plantation in Deli Land. Nienhuys previous tobacco business in Java, moved to Deli invited to an Arab from Surabaya named Said Abdullah Bilsagih, brother in law of Sultan Deli, Mahmud Perkasa Alam. Nienhuys first gardening tobacco on land owned by the Sultan of Deli of 4,000 hectares in Tanjong Spassi, near Labuhan. March 1864, Nienhuys sent samples of his crop of tobacco to Rotterdam, Netherlands to test its quality. Apparently, the tobacco leaves are considered high quality for cigar materials. Bounced Deli name as producer of the best cigar wrappers for Europeans.

coat of arms of Medan during colonial era

The tobacco treaty was signed by the Sultan of Deli and the Dutch in 1865. After two years, Nienhuys together Jannsen, P.W. Clemen, and Cremer founded the company De Deli Maatschappij abbreviated Deli Mij in Labuhan. In 1869, Nienhuys move the head office of Deli Mij to Kampung Medan. The new office was built on the confluence of Deli and Babura river, precisely at the office of PTPN II (ex PTPN IX) now. With the transfer of the office, Medan quickly became the center of government activity and trade, as well as areas most dominating developments in western Indonesia. The rapid development of the economy transform Deli into a big trading center with the nickname as het land dollar aka the land of the money. Then, they open up new plantations in the area Martubung and Sunggal in 1869, as well in Sungai Beras and Klumpang 1875, bringing the total to 22 plantation companies in the year 1874. Given the activities of the tobacco trade is already very broad and growing. Thus the "Kampung Medan" is becoming increasingly crowded and then developed with a name that is known as the Medan-Deli.

The development of Medan-Deli a trading center has been pushed into the center of government. In 1879, Capital Assistant of Deli Residen moved from Labuhan to Medan. On 1 March 1887, the capital of the Resident of East Sumatra also moved from Bengkalis to Medan Deli Sultanate Palace which was originally located in Kampung Bahari (Labuhan) and Pulo Brayan also moved with the completion of Maimoon Palace on May 18, 1891, and thus the Capital Deli has officially moved to Medan.

Growth of Medan-Deli[edit]

Medan taken from the air, cicra 1928-1940
Aerial view of Medan, 1920. It can be seen from the photo: the railway station, the Esplanade (now Merdeka Walk), City Hall, the Javasche Bank (now Bank Indonesia), post office, Hotel de Boer and office of the Deli Maatschappij

In 1915, the Residency of East Sumatra enhanced its status to Gubernermen. In 1918 the city of Medan officially became Gemeente (Municipal) with Mayor Baron Daniël Mackay. Based on the "Acte van Schenking" (Grant Deed) No. 97 Notary J.M. de-Hondt Junior, dated November 30, 1918, the Sultan of Deli handed over the land of Medan-Deli to the Gemeente, thus officially becoming the region under the direct rule of the Dutch East Indies. In the early days of this township, Medan still consists of four villages, namely Kampung Kesawan, Kampung Sungai Rengas, Kampung Petisah Hulu and Kampung Petisah Hilir.

In 1918 there were 43.826 residents of Medan, made up of 409 Europeans, 35,009 Native Indonesians, 8,269 Chinese and 139 East foreign such as Indians.

Since then the Medan developed more rapidly. Various facilities are built. Some of these include the Office of Experiment Stations named AVROS in Kampung Baru (1919), now RISPA, the railway of Pangkalan Brandan - Besitang (1919), Tirtanadi Water Tower (1908), American Consulate (1919), Teacher school on Jl. H.M. Yamin now (1923), Mingguan Soematra (1924), Pool Association Medan (1924), Central Market (Grote Markt/Toa Pa Sat or 大巴刹), St. Elizabeth Hospital, Eye Hospital and Kebun Bunga Sports field (1929).

Historically the development of the city of Medan, since the beginning has been positioned at the center of trade (export-import) since the past. being Medan choosed as the Deli capital also has made the city of Medan developed into a center of government. until now beside one of the areas of the city, also serves as the capital of North Sumatra province.

Japanese occupation and post independence era[edit]

British troops end Japanese occupation in Medan.

The Japanese invasion began in 1942 throughout Indonesia. The Japanese troops who landed in Sumatra were XXV soldiers who were based in Shonanto which is currently known as Singapore, they landed on the 11 and 12 March 1942. The force was made up of Guard Division 2nd Empire coupled with the 18th Division led by Lieutenant Nishimura. They landed in four locations: Sabang, Ulele, Kuala Bugak (near Perlak, Aceh now) and Tanjung Tiram (Batubara region now). The Tanjung Tiram troops were the soldiers who went to the city of Medan, they rode bikes that they bought from the locals, and the Japanese troops occupied Medan until 1945.

After the Independence, the central government began to establish RIS (United States of Indonesia) In 1949, and Medan became the capital of state of East Sumatra with Tengku Mansur as State Mayor. After the RIS era ended, Medan officially became the capital of North Sumatra. the city development was remain stagnant until the 1970s, with big developepment, especially on palm oil and rubber plantation company headquarters, Medan has been become the busiest city outside of Java. The big migration program bring a lot Javanese and the Bataks people began to settle in the city as many people from Java island and rural part of the province seek for a job.

Medan hit a million population in 1998 and 2 million in 2010, the city has begun to gain Metropolis status around 2006.


Medan is in the northeastern part of Sumatra island, in Sumatera Utara province. Medan lies on the banks of the Deli River and Babura River which feed into a naturally sheltered harbor and then into the Straits of Malacca, it has helped the city grow in significance as a trading port.[10] Its elevation varies between 2.5 and 37.5 metres (8 ft 2 in and 123 ft 0 in) above sea level. Medan is close to the Barisan Mountains which is located in the southern part of the city and close to volcanoes such as Sibayak Mountain and Sinabung Mountain (located as far as 50 to 70 kilometres (31 to 43 miles) from the city).


Under the Köppen climate classification, Medan features a tropical rainforest climate with no real dry season.[11] Medan does have noticeably wetter and drier months, with its driest month (February) on average seeing about one third of the precipitation of its wettest month (October). Temperatures in the city average approximately 27 °C (81 °F) throughout the course of the year. Annual precipitation in the Medan is around 2,200 millimetres (87 inches).

Climate data for Medan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.6
Average low °C (°F) 22.2
Average rainfall mm (inches) 92
Average rainy days 14 19 13 18 22 15 13 17 24 22 20 19 216
Mean monthly sunshine hours 96 106 111 105 111 144 124 108 78 74 84 84 1,225
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization[12]
Source #2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (sun, 1961–1990)[13][a]

Located in the central part of Deli Serdang Regency, Medan is surrounded by satellite cities and towns such as Binjai, Lubuk Pakam, Tanjung Morawa, Tembung, Percut Sei Tuan, and Labuhan Deli which help the city become a new urban area in Indonesia which known as 'Mebidang' (Medan, Binjai, Deli Serdang)


The old and former Medan City Hall building


Medan was governed by mayor Dr. H. Abdillah Ak, MBA (appointed for the period 2005–2010). However, Abdillah and his vice mayor were caught by Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission officials in 2008. Syamsul Arifin, the Governor of North Sumatra Province, then appointed Affifudin Lubis to become the acting mayor. In 2009, Affifudin Lubis resigned as mayor and the Governor then appointed Rahudman Harahap as mayor. Because Rahudman wanted to be a candidate in the 2010 mayor election, he too resigned from the office. Then Syamsul Arifin himself became the acting mayor. In the 2010 mayor election, Rahudman Harahap won the election. Rahudman was arrested due to corruption which result in his deputy Dzulmi Eldin officially became the acting mayor.[14]

Administrative division[edit]

District divisions of Medan

Medan is divided into 21 districts (Indonesian: kecamatan), tabulated below, and sub-divided into 151 neighborhoods or villages (kelurahan):[15][16]

Based on the map, the city are centralised around Medan Petisah, Medan Baru, Medan Polonia, Medan Maimun, Medan Kota, and West Medan which is act as City Center. Medan Labuhan is one of the largest districts by area other than Medan Belawan and Medan Marelan which is lies on the northern part of the city. Medan Tuntungan serves as the gateway to Karoland regency, Medan Helvetia to Binjai City and Langkat and Medan Amplas to Tebing Tinggi and Pematang Siantar.


The city is Indonesia's fourth most populous after Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, as well as Indonesia's largest city outside of Java island. The population has risen from 568,000 in 1968[17] fourfold to 2.1 million in 2010. Much of the population lies outside its city limits, especially in Deli Serdang Regency. The official Metropolitan area (Wilayah Metropolitan Medan) inhabited by 4,144,583 people in 2010.

Administrative division Area (km²) Population (2010 Census) Population (2015 Est) Population density (/km²)
Medan (City) 265.10 2,109,330 2,210,624 8,339
Binjai (City) 90.24 246,010 264,687 2,933
Deli Serdang Regency 2,384.62 1,789,243 2,029,308 851
Greater Medan 2,739.96 4,144,583 4,504,619 1,644

Source: BPS Sumut[18]

Ethnicities and languages[edit]

Women walking around the Hindu temple Sri Mariamman in Kampung Madras

As for Ethnicity, the Javanese, Batak (including Mandailing and Karo people), and Chinese are the major ethnics in Medan, with sizeable Minangkabau and Malay people and also has small Acehnese, Indians, Nias, and Sundanese people. Medan also has foreign residents from India, Sri Lanka Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Middle East and other Asian countries.[19]

Ethnic groups in Medan, 2010
Ethnicity Population Percentage
including Karo and Mandailing people
743,432 33.63%
Javanese 641,744 29.03%
Chinese 390,175 17.65%
Minangkabau 168,007 7.60%
Malay 145,680 6.59%
Indian and Acehnese
115,615 5.23%

The city has diverse communities, reflected by its history. The Bataks is one of the major ethnic groups in Medan. In the past the Dutch employed them as workers in oil palm plantations. The Bataks reside throughout the city. The Mandailings also live here in large numbers and work in the most strategic government position. In addition, there is a large ethnic Javanese community, largely made up of the descendants of people transported from Java in the last century to be employed as contract workers at various plantations in North Sumatra. They are usually known as Pujakesuma (Putra Jawa Kelahiran Sumatera/Sumatra-born Javanese). Their presence in Medan can be marked from various Javanese toponymies in Medan, such as Harjosari, Sarirejo, Sidodadi, Sidomulyo, Sidorame, Sidorejo, Sitirejo, Sudirejo, Tanjungrejo, Tanjungsari, Tegalrejo, Tegalsari, etc. (mostly in East Medan and Medan Tembung area). The Malays and Karo peoples are the natives in Medan, already living in the city after the founding of Medan. The Malays living spread throughout the city, but they have a big concentration population in Medan Maimun, Medan Kota and Medan Area, meanwhile the Karo people mostly resided around Medan Selayang and Medan Tuntungan area.

A highly visible component of Medan's population is the large number of Chinese, the largest Chinese community in the Island of Sumatra, who are active in the business and trading activities. Almost all Chinese residents in Medan can speak fluent Hokkien, a dialect originating from Fujian Province in Southern China. Medan also has its own variation of Hokkien, known as Medan Hokkien (棉蘭福建話), the Chinese reside throughout the city. The Minangkabau also as merchants, peddlers, and artisans, in addition to as white collar, doctor, lawyer, and journalist. Minangkabaus living around Medan Denai and Medan Maimun area.[20] The city also host a sizable community of Tamil descendants who are commonly known as Madrasis or Tamilian. A well-known Tamil neighbourhood is Kampung Madras located on the city center, being one of the busiest part of the Medan town.


Religion of Medan – 2010 Census[21]
religion percent
(including Sikhism)
(incl Taoism and other Chinese religion)

Islam is the major religion of Medan, constituting around 61 percent of all residents; most of those who follow Islam are Malay, Javanese and small Bataknese Mandailing people. Mosques and Halal food are quite easy to find anywhere around the city. Christianity is the second largest religion, constituting around 29 percent, most are Protestants and small (around 10 percent out of all Christians) are Catholics. The Bataks (Toba, Karo, Simalungun), Nias with a small Chinese and Indian people are the main adherents of this religion. The HKBP, GBKP and Methodist are the biggest Christian denominations in Medan.

Buddhism formed around 7 percent, with the Chinese being the largest group of followers. Most Buddhists in Medan follow Mahayana buddhism. The followers worship Buddha, Maitreya and also Avalokitesvara. Hindu are the 4th largest religion at around 1.20 percent. The Indonesian government does not include Sikhs as an official religion, but Indians who is living in Medan are the major followers. Hinduism in Medan is quitely different than any other part of Hindu around Indonesia which is teaching Balinese version of Hindu, the major Gods are worshipped are Murugan, Shiva, Mariamman and Krishna. The last registered religion in Medan are Confucian or in Indonesian known as Konghucu, mostly adherent are the Chinese, the Taoism and Chinese Folk religion are also including as Confucian in ID Card, Confucius, Mazu and Guandi are the most worshipped God and Goddesses for this religion followers in Medan.


The downtown area of Medan, with large-scaled of shophouses on foreground and Uni-Plaza twin tower on background

Medan has already grown to become one of the largest metropolitan cities in Indonesia and become the center of growth in the province of North Sumatra. Now the city is an important commercial and economic hub of Indonesia. Locals, as well as many foreigners have set up their business to take advantage of its dynamism and boost its economy. Medan's economy was mainly based on tobacco, rubber, tea and coffee culture and production, but growing manufacturing sector such as automotive assembly, production of machinery, tiles, etc., also contributing now to the city's economy. Medan is more like the most industrious city in Sumatra consisting of many small, medium and large-scale enterprises. Because of its location,and its proximity to Singapore that functions strategically as the main gateway in the western region of Indonesia & for the trading of goods and financial services on domestic, regional and international levels. Many international companies maintains office in the city, namely London Sumatra, Philips Lighting, Toba Pulp Lestari, Marriott, ABB Group and DBS Bank, etc. Medan is one of the Indonesia’s most promising property markets outside Java, and several high-value developments have transformed its property market – and skyline. Many of country's big property developers are building condominiums,hotels, office towers and a shopping malls in the city.


Medan is inhabited by many different ethnic groups. Malay people are the natives of the Medan area, and have deep roots in Medan. They began ruling there during the Deli Sultanate until now. The empire has many lands and property of heritage in Medan, such a palace, mosque and park. The Dutch and Chinese bringing a big contributor to the city development, include during Dutch East Indies era, many historical buildings are made by Dutch and Peranakan architercture along Jalan Kesawan and Pemuda. The arrival of Bataks, Javanese and Indian people bringing more colours to the culture of Medan, especially cuisine.


The North Sumatra Museum is located approximately 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) to the south from the center of the city, which is in Jalan HM. Joni 15 Medan. The Minister of Education and Culture Dr. Daoed Joesoef opened north Sumatran museum in April 1982.This museum is open on: Tuesday – Thursday (08.00 – 16.00) Friday – Sunday (08.00 – 15.30) and Closed on: Monday. This museum gives a lot of information about ethnic and cultural which exists in North Sumatra, including history and stories of the museum. Some activities that can be done in this museum are: photographs and studying and learn about culture and the object of the North Sumatran history.

The Bukit Barisan Museum is a military museum opened by Brigade General Leo Lopulisa on June 21, 1971. This museum is located at 8 Jalan H. Zainul Arifin, Medan. It houses several historic weapons include weapons that were used in the struggle for independence and the revolt in North Sumatra during 1958. In this museum we could see several motives/ painting of the revolt against the Netherlands.[22]

Rahmat International Wildlife Museum & Gallery or more known as Rahmat Gallery, opened in 1999 and is chiefly the most incredible global taxidermy collection in the city, including various collections of wildlife, located on Jalan Letjen S. Parman no.309.[23]


Soto Medan
Bika Ambon

Because of its multiculturality, Medan has wide varies of cuisine which are categorized as local, western, east and southern Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, the city hosts a lot of cafes, restaurants, food centre and also street vendors with a varies prices.

Nelayan is one of the famous restaurants in Medan, serving a halal-Chinese seafood especially dim sum. Garuda is the most popular Minangkabau and Malay restaurant in medan serves nasi padang and gulai, Cahaya Baru is an Indian restaurant located on Kampung Madras with its most recommended food as chapati and tandoori. The most visited Bataknese restaurant are OnDo Batak grill and Tesalonika with known as best BPK or Saksang.

This city is known as culinary heaven of Indonesia which is prominent for its street hawkers offering a great variety of cuisine which often serves cheap local delicacies, Medan has several most known culinary spots like Jalan Selat Panjang and Jalan Semarang for Chinese food, Jalan Pagaruyung for Indian and Malay food and Jalan Padang Bulan for Bataknese food.

Merdeka Walk is the first Tensile Structure (Alfresco Outdoor Concept) in Indonesia, filled with a variety of cafés and restaurants. Durian is a popular fruit in Indonesia and nowhere more so than in Medan. This thorny fruit, with its very distinctive taste and smell, is available for cheap all over the city. Ucok Durian along Jalan Iskandar Muda is the most known Durian seller in the city.

Soto Medan, is a chicken/pork/beef/innards soto with added coconut milk and served with potato croqutte (perkedel). The meat pieces are fried before being served or mixed.

Bika Ambon is a dessert from Indonesia. Made from ingredients such as tapioca flour, eggs, sugar, yeast and coconut milk, Bika Ambon are generally sold in pandan flavour, although other flavors such as banana, durian, cheese, chocolate are also available.

Babi Panggang Karo abbreviated as BPK, is a grilled pork with its blood as a dipping sauces serve with slice of tomato and cucumber. The three dishes are served with plain rice and a sambal andaliman, made from fresh sichuan peppers. The Chinese equivalent of grilled pork are called as Cha Sio (叉燒)

Tau Kua He Ci (豆干虾炸) is local Chinese version of Rojak but made with fried prawn, vegetables and tofu with chilli sauce. Its other name also called as Lap Choi (腊菜). Teng-Teng (丁丁) is a candy made with peanut.

Dried fruits and many unique cuisines can be found in Pasar Rame, which operates every day from morning to afternoon, located just beside Thamrin Plaza.[24]

Bolu Meranti is the most famous homemade Swiss roll in Medan, usually local and international tourist always bought the cakes for souvenir from the city. The Medanese dried anchovies also is one of a "must" souvenirs from Medan, could be bought from Central Market or Pusat Pasar in Indonesian.


London Sumatera Indonesia, abbreviated as Lonsum building on Jalan Kesawan


The peranakan Tjong A Fie Mansion

There are many old buildings in Medan that still retain their Dutch architecture. These include the old City Hall, the Medan Post Office, Inna Dharma Deli Hotel, Titi Gantung (a bridge over the railway), The London Sumatra building, Tjong A Fie Mansion, AVROS, Warenhuis, and The Tirtanadi Water Tower, mostly located around the old town Kesawan.

There are several historic places such as Maimoon Palace built in years 1887–1891, where the Sultan of Deli still lives (the Sultan no longer holds any official power), The Great Mosque of Medan built in 1906 in the Moroccan style by the Dutch architect A.J. Dingemans,.[25] both location of Maimoon Palace and The Great Mosque are close. The Mosque located on Jalan Sisingamangaraja and The Palace located on Jalan Brigjen Katamso.

Gunung Timur Temple or locally known as Tông-Yuk-Kuàng in hokkien, is a city's oldest Taoism temple, located on Jalan Hang Tuah. Medan has a Buddhist temple named as Maha Vihara Maitreya, and there is also a Buddhist centre nearby named as Maha Karuna Buddhist Centre (MKBC) this temple complex known as one of the biggest non-historical Buddhist temple in Indonesia, both situated around Cemara Asri housing complex. Medan Cathedral is the oldest church in the city, was built by the Dutch and Indian community nearby, and the church was named as Indische Kerk back then, located on the old town along Jalan Pemuda. Sri Mariamman Temple is the first Hindu temple in Medan built around 1881 by The Tamil peoples in the city, located on Jalan Zainul Arifin, The City's Little India or more known as Kampung Madras, the temple has unique south Indian architecture with hundred Hindu deity statues around the building.

Since 2005, a catholic church named Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni was built with an Indo-Mogul style, devoted to Mary, this particular Saint knows its origin with an apparition in the 17th century in Tamil Nadu, India. The temple has two stories and a small tower of seven storeys, it is situated on Jalan Sakura III, besides outer ring road on Jalan TB Simatupang.[26]


Medan Mall, considered as one of oldest shopping mall in Medan, located on Jalan M.T Haryono

Medan is one of the major shopping destinations of Indonesia, along with Jakarta and Bandung. It has several markets and shopping malls offering a wide range of goods and qualities. Some of the more popular markets for tourists include Pasar Rame (Rame Market) and Pasar Petisah (Petisah Market), which specialize in selling clothing and food; and the Pasar Ikan Lama (Old Fish Market), a marketplace for traditional Islamic wear and souvenirs of Medan. Some other marketplaces in the city are Pasar Beruang, Pasar Hong Kong, Pasar Sambas and Pasar Aksara.

Medan also has some modern malls. the newest and most popular among them are Sun Plaza, Medan Centre Point, Cambridge City Square, Medan Focal Point, Hermes Place Polonia and Plaza Medan Fair. The oldest malls are Thamrin Plaza, Medan Mall, Medan Plaza, Yang Lim Plaza, and Yuki Simpang Raya.

The upcoming malls in medan are Podomoro City Medan, Metrolink Trade Center, Ring Road City Walks, and The Manhattan.

Theme parks[edit]

There are some theme parks in the city or outside city, most of them are water park.

  • HillPark GreenHill City [1] – the latest theme park 1 hour from Medan on the way to Berastagi.
  • Pantai Cermin Themepark – the first and only water theme park in North Sumatra, which located in Cermin Beach, Serdang Bedagai. The theme park is organized by Malaysia Investor and Local Government. Open on Mon, Wed, Thur and Fri (11.00 – 18.00) Sat, Sun and public holiday (09.00 – 18.00). Closed on Tuesday, except public holiday. With admission fee: Mon, Wed, Thur and Fri ->adult Rp 40,000,-child Rp 20.000,- (below 1,1 metre) and Sat, Sun and public holiday-adult Rp 60,000-child Rp 40,000,- (below 1,1 metre). Swimming, sun bathing and kayaking. To go there; rental car, private car or take mini bus (sudako) at Jalan. MT. Haryono (in front of Medan Mall) and stop at Perbaungan city. Then take a machine trishaw to the beach.
  • Wonder Water World – latest waterpark in Medan, located on Central Business District (CBD) Polonia.
  • Hairos Water Park – another waterpark near the city, located on jalan Djamin Ginting km.14, Deliserdang.


Medan is well-connected by road, air, rail and sea. There are plenty of options for public transport within city and intercity.


Kualanamu International Airport.

The new Kualanamu International Airport (KNO) was opened to the public on July 25, 2013. The new airport is the second largest airport after Soekarno-Hatta International Airport with a 224,298 m2 (2,414,324 sq ft) passengers terminal and will eventually have a capacity of 50 million passengers (2030). It is the first airport in Indonesia which has direct rail links to the city. The airport is the hub for Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia AirAsia, Lion Air, Susi Air and Wings Air.[27] The new airport is a replacement for the Polonia Airport. Unlike the old Polonia Airport which was located in the heart of the city, this new airport is approximately 39 km (24 mi) from downtown. The airport has direct domestic flights to many major cities in Sumatra and Java. There are also some international flights to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, etc. An airport train known as Airport Railink Services (ARS) connects the airport to city center. The train runs from Medan Main Station beside the Merdeka Square at Jalan Balai Kota from 4:00 a.m. to 08:00 p.m, and from the airport from 5:25 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is the fastest way to reach the airport from the city, taking 30 minutes. Alternate modes of transport from the airport into the city take longer (30 to 47 minutes).


Main article: Belawan

The Port of Belawan (Pelabuhan Belawan) is the main seaport in Medan. Located in the northeast coast of Sumatra, Belawan is situated 12 miles (19 kilometres) north of Medan city and serves as a port, which is the terminus of a railway that crosses the channel south of the island by bridge.[28]

The port was initially built in 1890 to provide a location where tobacco could be transferred directly between rail lines from the interior and deep-draft ships. The harbor expanded in 1907 with the construction of a new section intended for Chinese and indigenous traders, reserving the existing port for European shipping. In the early twentieth century the port's business expanded, with the growth of major rubber and palm oil plantations in northern Sumatra. In the 1920s several major berthing facilities were built. In 1938, the port was the largest port in the Dutch East Indies, in terms of cargo value. Cargo volumes dropped substantially after Indonesian independence, and did not reach pre-independence levels again until the mid-1960s. A major restructuring in 1985 saw the construction of a container terminal; it almost immediately captured about one-fifth of Indonesia's containerized exports. Major products exported include rubber, palm oil, tea, and coffee.[29]

There are two port terminals, one for Passenger and Ferry Services to Penang and Langkawi and some Indonesian cities such as Batam, Jakarta, and Surabaya. another terminal known as Belawan International Container Terminal (BICT), used for export and importing services, BICT is one of the largest shipping industry port in Indonesia.

Road and highway[edit]

Medan is connected by the Trans-Sumatran Highway, the main road across Sumatra, and the Belawan-Medan-Tanjung Morawa Toll Road, also known as the Belmera Toll Road, the one and only available Toll Road in Medan, connecting Belawan, Medan and Tanjung Morawa. Currently there are additional toll roads under construction which will connect the city to the airport, Binjai, and Tebing Tinggi.


Main article: Medan Station
Commuter train in Medan.

Railway lines connect Medan to Binjai and Tanjungpura to the northwest, to port of Belawan to the north, to Tebing Tinggi and Pematang Siantar to the southeast, and also Rantau Prapat among other cities. The largest train station in Medan is Medan Station. There are also smaller stations in Medan, such as Medan Pasar, Pulu Brayan, Titi Papan, and Labuhan, and Belawan. Titi Papan and Pulu Brayan only serve as the stop for freight trains carrying oil palm and petroleum. There are also have express train connecting to another North Sumatra cities such as Tebing Tinggi, Pematang Siantar, Tanjung Balai, and Rantau Prapat. Several rail lines around medan is under-constructed to replace them with an elevated railway.

The destination from main station are:

The Railink train is an airport express train connecting from CRS (City Railway Station) to ARS (Airport Railink Station), Operated 18 hours (from 5 am to 11 pm) with 30-minute distances. An elevated railway is under construction to make this airport rail service 15-minute distances. The CRS provides with a city check-in services for selected airlines.

Public transport[edit]

Motorized rickshaw in Medan.

One of the unique features of Medan are the motorized rickshaws known as Becak Motor (Bentor) or Becak Mesin. The becaks are found almost everywhere. Unlike the Javanese rickshaws, the driver sits on the right side of the vehicle and unlike traditional becaks, a motorized becak can take its passenger anywhere in the city. The fare to ride a becak is relatively cheap and is usually negotiated beforehand.

There are also more public transport like taxis and minibuses, known as Sudako or Angkutan Kota (Angkot). The angkot can be found easily in medium-to-high congested roads, and angkots always use a route number.

TransMebidang is a new bus rapid transit system in North Sumatra, Indonesia that has 2 active corridors.

Corridor # Origin-Destination
1 Medan – Binjai
2 Medan – Lubuk Pakam


Medan serves with several Radio and TV channels, also newspaper in local and foreign language such as Indonesian, English, Chinese, Batak, Malay and others:

TV channel[edit]

The TVRI Medan (state-owned), iNews TV Medan, RTV Medan, DAAI TV and Deli TV (private) are the five local television stations that airing in Medan. Medan also has twelve national television stations: Indosiar, MNCTV, Trans TV, ANTV, Global TV, RCTI, SCTV, TV One, Metro TV, Trans7, NET., Kompas TV, Nusantara TV.


RRI is the only state-owned radio in Medan, provides in Indonesian and English language. Several local languages radio are also serves, such as: Kardopa Radio (in Batak language), CityRadio FM and A-Radio FM (in Chinese language) and Simphony FM (in Malay language). Medan also has several popular radio channels like Prambors FM, SIndo FM, I-Radio, KISS FM, VISI FM, Delta Fm and others.


Several national and local newspapers are running in the city with Harian Mimbar Umum as the oldest one. Other popular newspapers include Harian Waspada, Analisa, Kompas, Jurnal Medan, Berita Sore, Harian Global, Harian Medan Bisnis, Posmetro Medan, Suara Indonesia Baru, and Tribun Medan. There are also has some mandarin language newspaper such as Harian Indonesia (印尼星洲日报), Guo Ji Ri Bao (国际日报) and Shangbao (印尼商报). English newspaper like The Jakarta Post also distributed in the city.

Aplause Magazine, is one of the magazines from the city, published monthly and brings on Food, Travel, and Inspiration theme and what's is happening around Medan. This magazine is the pioneer of a local magazine that specializes in the discussion of the theme of lifestyle or urban lifestyle. Publication 2005, Applause Magazine itself managed by Analisa Daily, the newspaper has a circulation of 65,000 copies in North Sumatra.


Football is one of the more popular sports in Medan, with five local clubs: PSMS Medan, Medan Jaya, Medan Chiefs, Bintang PSMS and Medan United; and a basketball club named Angsapura Sania. Another locally popular sport is Wushu, with significant growth in recent years as one of the favorite sports in Medan. It has its training center in Jalan Plaju in heart of town. Medan has recently seen much success in Wushu nationally and internationally. Medan has a multi-purpose stadium named Teladan Stadium. This stadium is used mostly for football matches, and serves as a home stadium for PSMS Medan.


St. Elisabeth Hospital

Medan has more than 30 registered hospitals, 3 of them are public hospital and the rest are private hospital, these hospital are:

  • Pirngadi General Hospital
  • Adam Malik General Hospital
  • Haji General Hospital
  • St. Elisabeth Hospital
  • Martha Friska Hospital
  • Columbia Asia Hospital
  • Permata Bunda Hospital
  • Murni Teguh Hospital
  • Advent Hospital
  • Imelda Hospital
  • Vina Estetica Hospital
  • Stella Maris Hospital
  • Putri Hijau Military Hospital
  • Bunda Thamrin Hospital
  • Methodist Hospital
  • Sumatra Eye Center


As the largest city outside Java island, Medan provides with more than 827 registered Elementary school, 337 Middle School and 288 High school, this is included state-owned school, private school, religious school and foreign school. Some of notable school are: Sutomo School, Chandra Kusuma School, Medan International School Prime One School, Telkom Sandhy Putra Vocational School, St. Thomas School, SMA Negeri (State high-school) 1,2,3,4, etc.

Medan also has 72 registered universities, academy, polytechnics, and colleges such as: University of North Sumatra, Medan State Polytechnic, State University of Medan, Prima University, HKBP Nommensen University, Universitas Methodist Indonesia, Muhammadiyah University of North Sumatra, IT&B Campus, Medan Tourism Academy, Pelita Harapan University and others.

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Medan has sister relationships with these cities: [30]



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  1. ^ Station ID for Kualanamu Medan is 96035 Use this station ID to locate the sunshine duration

External links[edit]