North Sumatra

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North Sumatra
Sumatera Utara
Flag of North Sumatra
Official seal of North Sumatra
Motto: Tekun Berkarya, Hidup Sejahtera, Mulia Berbudaya ("Work diligently, live prosperously, noble in culture")
Location of North Sumatera in Indonesia
Location of North Sumatera in Indonesia
Coordinates: 2°00′N 99°00′E / 2.000°N 99.000°E / 2.000; 99.000Coordinates: 2°00′N 99°00′E / 2.000°N 99.000°E / 2.000; 99.000
Country  Indonesia
Established April 15, 1948
Capital Medan coa.png Medan
 • Body North Sumatera Regional Government
 • Governor Tengku Erry Nuradi (acting) (Golkar)
 • Vice Governor Vacant
 • Total 72,981.23 km2 (28,178.21 sq mi)
Area rank 8th
Highest elevation 2,460 m (8,070 ft)
Population (2014)
 • Total 13,527,937
 • Rank 4th
 • Density 190/km2 (480/sq mi)
 • Density rank 11th
Demonym(s) North Sumateran
Warga Sumatera Utara (id)
Time zone Indonesia Western Time (UTC+7)
Postcodes 20xxx, 21xxx, 22xxx
Area codes (62)6xx
ISO 3166 code ID-SU
Vehicle sign BK (East Coast)
BB (Central Area & West Coast)
GRP per capita US$ 3,204
GRP rank 13th
HDI Increase 0.695 (Medium)
HDI rank 10th
Largest city by area Gunungsitoli - 280.78 square kilometres (108.41 sq mi)
Largest city by population Medan - (2,210,624 - 2016)
Largest regency by area Langkat Regency - 6,262.00 square kilometres (2,417.77 sq mi)
Largest regency by population Deli Serdang Regency - (2,029,308 - 2016)
Website Government official site

North Sumatra (Indonesian: Sumatera Utara, is a province of Indonesia. It is located on the island of Sumatra, and its capital is Medan. North Sumatra is fourth most populous province in Indonesia after West Java, East Java and Central Java and the most populous Indonesian province outside Java, with over 13,5 million inhabitants in 2014.[1]


In the days of the Dutch government, a government of North Sumatra named Gouvernement van Sumatra with the area covering the whole of the island of Sumatra, headed by a governor who is based in the city of Medan.

After independence, the first session of the National Committee of Regions (KND), Sumatra was then divided into three sub-provinces namely North Sumatra, Central Sumatra and South Sumatra. North Sumatra province itself is an amalgamation of three administrative regions called residency namely: Residency of Aceh, East Sumatra Residency, and residency of Tapanuli.

With the publication of the Law of the Republic of Indonesia (R.I.) No. 10 Year 1948 on April 15, 1948, it was determined that Sumatra is divided into three provinces, each of which has the right to organize and manage their own household, namely: North Sumatra, Central Sumatra Province, and South Sumatra Province. Date 15 April 1948 subsequently determined as the anniversary of North Sumatra Province.

In early 1949, the reorganization of government back in Sumatra. With the decision of the Government Emergency R.I. No. 22 / Govt / Emergency Government on May 17, 1949, abolished the post of Governor of North Sumatra. Furthermore, the Government Emergency Decree R.I. on December 17, 1949, established the province of Aceh and Tapanuli Province / East Sumatra. Then, with a Government Regulation in lieu of Law No. 5 Year 1950 on August 14, 1950, such provisions shall be lifted and reshaped North Sumatra Province.

By Act R.I. No. 24 of 1956, promulgated on December 7, 1956, established an autonomous region of Aceh province, so the province of North Sumatra sebahagian become the province of Aceh.[2]


Lake Toba, World's largest volcanic lake

The province of North Sumatra stretches across the island of Sumatra between the Indian Ocean and the Strait Malacca. It borders Aceh province on the northwest and Riau and West Sumatra provinces in the southeast. It has an area of 72,981  km². The province contains a broad, low plain along the Strait of Malacca on which the provincial capital, Medan, is located. In the south and west, the land rises to the mountain range that runs the length of Sumatra; the mountains here are dominated by Lake Toba, formed from the caldera of an ancient volcano. Several large islands in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Sumatra are currently part of North Sumatra, most notably Nias Island and the Batu Islands.

There are 419 islands in propisi North Sumatra. The outer islands is the island Simuk (Nias), and the island Berhala in the Strait of Sumatra (Malacca).

Nias archipelago consists of the island as the main island and other smaller islands in the vicinity. Nias Islands located off the coast of western Indian Ocean. Administration center located in Gunung Sitoli.

Batu Islands consist of 51 islands with four major islands: Sibuasi, Pini, Tanahbala, Tanahmasa. Pulautelo administrative center on the island Sibuasi. Batu Islands located in the southeast of the island of Nias. Other islands in the North Sumatra: Imanna, Pasu, Bawa, Hamutaia, Batumakalele, Lego, Masa, Bau, Simaleh, Makole, Jake, and Sigata, Wunga.

In North Sumatra, there are currently two national parks, the Gunung Leuser National Park and Batang Gadis National Park. According to the Ministerial Decree, No. 44 of 2005, the forest area in North Sumatra today 3.74212 million hectares (ha). Which consists of a Natural Reserve Area / Natural Conservation Area covering an area of 477 070 ha, 1.29733 million ha of protected forest, limited production forest 879 270 ha, Permanent production forest 1,035,690 ha and production forest that can be converted covering 52 760 ha.

But this figure character is de jure alone. Because as a de facto , the existing forests is not covering it anymore. Happens a lot of damage due to encroachment and illegal logging. So far, over 206,000 ha of forest in Sumatra has experienced changes in function. Has been turned into plantations, transmigration. And of the total, as many as 163,000 ha of plantations and 42,900 ha for transmigration area.



The administrative center of North Sumatra is located in the city Medan, governed by a Governor. Earlier, North Sumatra, including Sumatra province in Indonesia shortly became independent in 1945. In 1950, North Sumatra Province was formed that includes former residency of East Sumatra, Tapanuli, and Aceh. In 1956, Aceh split off into Aceh.

Administrative divisions[edit]

North Sumatra is currently subdivided into 25 regencies and 8 autonomous cities, listed below with their (provisional) populations at the 2010 Census and according to the latest (2014) estimates. With proposals under consideration to create three additional provinces from parts of the present North Sumatra, these are grouped below according to the putative new province in which they are situated:

Nias Island Region[edit]

Omo Sebua, means the big house. This is a traditional house from South Nias. It was king of Tano Niha who live in, located in Bawomataluo
Name Area
Census 2010[3]
January 2014[1]
Gunungsitoli City 230.80 125,566 131,507 Gunungsitoli
Nias Regency 3,495.39 132,329 136,900 Gunungsitoli
North Nias Regency
(Nias Utara)
1,202.78 127,530 132,593 Lotu
South Nias Regency
(Nias Selatan)
1,625.91 289,876 301,886 Teluk Dalam
West Nias Regency
(Nias Barat)
# 81,461 85,246 Lahomi
# the area of West Nias Regency is included in the figure for Nias Regency.

Southeast Sumatra Region[edit]

A tourist take a photo of Bagas Godang in Panyabungan, Mandailing Natal
Name Area
Census 2010
January 2014[1]
Padang Sidempuan City 114.65 191,554 199,582 Padang Sidempuan
Mandailing Natal Regency 6,620.70 403,894 421,968 Panyabungan
North Padang Lawas Regency
(Padang Lawas Utara)
3,918.05 223,049 232,928 Gunung Tua
Padang Lawas Regency 3,892.74 223,480 234,728 Sibuhuan
South Tapanuli Regency
(Tapanuli Selatan)
4,352.86 264,108 274,905 Sipirok
The town of Tarutung from above a Salib Kasih (Cross Love) hill

Tapanuli Region[edit]

Old Batak Village, or known as Bolon House (Rumah Bolon) in Simanindo
Name Area
Census 2010
January 2014[1]
Sibolga City 10.77 84,444 88,032 Sibolga
Central Tapanuli Regency
(Tapanuli Tengah)
2,158.00 310,962 324,315 Pandan
Humbang Hasundutan Regency 2,297.20 171,687 178,866 Dolok Sanggul
North Tapanuli Regency
(Tapanuli Utara)
3,764.65 278,897 290,996 Tarutung
Samosir Regency 2,433.50 111,650 124,683 Pangururan
Toba Samosir Regency 2,352.35 172,933 180,407 Balige

East Sumatra Region[edit]

Maimoon Palace, a historical palace in Medan, it was used as a house for Deli Sultanate for a long time and still active till this day
Bukit Lawang, tourist village at the bank of Bahorok River, Langkat
Lumbini Natural Park, a Theravada-style Buddhist temple in Berastagi
Name Area
Census 2010
January 2014[1]
Binjai City 90.24 246,010 256,502 Binjai
Medan City 265.10 2,109,339 2,185,789 Medan
Pematang Siantar City 79.87 234,885 244,564 Pematang Siantar
Tanjung Balai City * 154,426 160,941 Tanjung Balai
Tebing Tinggi City 38.44 145,180 151,354 Tebing Tinggi
Asahan Regency 3,675.79 667,563 696,364 Kisaran
Batubara Regency 904.96 374,535 391,686 Limapuluh
Dairi Regency 1,927.80 269,848 281,405 Sidikalang
Deli Serdang Regency 2,486.14 1,789,243 1,865,695 Lubukpakam
Karo Regency 2,127.25 350,479 365,713 Kabanjahe
Labuhan Batu Regency 9,223.18 414,417 432,560 Rantau Prapat
Langkat Regency 6,263.29 966,133 1,008,207 Stabat
North Labuhan Batu Regency
(Labuhan Batu Utara)
# 331,660 344,603 Aek Kanopan
Pakpak Bharat Regency 1,218.30 40,481 42,208 Salak
Serdang Bedagai Regency 1,913.33 592,922 619,367 Sei Rampah
Simalungun Regency 4,386.60 818,104 852,095 Raya
South Labuhan Batu Regency
(Labuhan Batu Selatan)
# 277,549 289,346 Kota Pinang
* the area of Tanjung Balai city is included in the figure for Asahan Regency, from which it was carved out in 2007.
# the areas of North Labuhan Batu Regency and South Labuhan Batu Regency are included in the figure for Labuhan Batu Regency, from which they were carved out in 2007.

North Sumatra is divided to 25 regency, 8 city (formerly municipality), 325 sub-district, and 5456 village.



North Sumatra recorded a population of 12,985,075 in the 2010 national census, making the 4th most populous province in Indonesia, with a sex ratio of 99.59 men per 100 women.[4] The latest estimate (for January 2014) is 13,527,937.[1]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1971 6,621,831 —    
1980 8,360,894 +26.3%
1990 10,256,027 +22.7%
1995 11,114,667 +8.4%
2000 11,649,655 +4.8%
2010 12,982,204 +11.4%
2014 13,527,937 +4.2%
Source: Badan Pusat Statistik 2010


North Sumatra is a multi-ethnic province. The Batak, Nias, and the Malay peoples are regarded as the native people of this province. The east coast of North Sumatra is generally inhabited by Malays and Chinese. The Javanese resides around Deli Serdang Regency, including Medan, while the West coast of province is mainly inhabited the Pakpak, Mandailing and Minangkabau peoples. The central region around Lake Toba, is predominantly inhabited by the Batak peoples. The Nias people reside mostly in Nias Island and the surrounding islands. With the opening of tobacco plantations in East Sumatra during the Dutch East Indies era, the colonial government employed many contract laborers for plantations. The newcomers were mostly Javanese and Chinese, and included a small Indian community. with recently Acehnese people starting to move and reside to urban areas the province due to Insurgency and implementation of Sharia laws that happening in Aceh.

As for percentage, the Batak make up 41,95% out of all population, including Batak Karo and Mandailing. The Javanese comes as second with 30,62%, the Malay add up to 5,92% and next is the Chinese with 5,15%. Nias people make up around 4,10% and the rest are Minangkabau (2,66%), Acehnese (1,27%), Indian (0,80%) and other ethnics (1,15%)

the Batak and its sub-ethnics distributed as Toba, Simalungun, Karo, Pakpak, Angkola and Mandailing

The distribution of the tribes, clans and ethnicities in North Sumatra is as follows:


In general, a widely-used language is Indonesian. The Malays around Deli Serdang and Langkat majority using Malay languages that has similarity with Peraknese malay language, as for malays in Medan using Indonesian more than the Malay language itself. The eastern coastal Malays around Serdang Bedagai, Pangkalan Dodek, Batubara, Asahan, and Tanjung Balai, using a Malay dialect "o" as well as in Labuhan Batu with a slight difference of manner. The Javanese people, especially around rural and plantation areas using Javanese as daily conversation, meanwhile the urban Javanese mostly using Indonesian.

The Batak people using Bataknese which is divided into four dialects (Silindung-Samosir-Humbang-Toba), the difference are on Batak Karo people that using Karo language and the Batak Mandailing people around South Tapanauli, Padang Lawas and Mandailing Natal using Mandailing language. Nias language is spoken among Nias people.

Mostly Chinese in North Sumatra using Hokkien with Zhangzhou dialect mixed with Malay/Bataknese/Indonesian words, as for Chinese around Labuhan Batu area using Quanzhou dialect that has similarity with Bagansiapiapi Hokkien. The small Teochew speakers are also exist. The Indian people in Medan speak Tamil with a small Punjabi speakers among Punjabis. The Acehnese people speak Aceh and Gayo language.


Religion of North Sumatra – 2000 Census[5]
ethnic group percent
(incl Taoism and Chinese religion)
(incl Sikhism)
(Parmalim and Pemena)

The main religion in North Sumatra are:

  • Islam: especially embraced by the Malays, Minangkabau, Javanese, Aceh, Mandailing, Angkola, and partly Toba, Karo, Simalungun and Pakpak
  • Christian (Protestant and Catholic): especially embraced by Batak Toba, Karo, Simalungun, Nias and partly Chiense and Indian
  • Hindu and Sikh: especially embraced by Indian in urban areas, there are also small Batak Karo people that practising Hindu
  • Buddhist: especially embraced by Chinese urban tribes
  • Confucian, Taoist and Chinese religion: especially embraced by Chinese
  • Traditional religion such as Parmalim/Pemena: embraced by most of the Batak tribe centered in Huta Tinggi

Agriculture and Economy[edit]

Sumatra Mandheling and Sumatra Lintong coffee beans are grown in North Sumatra and largely exported to the United States. Mandheling is named after the similarly spelt Mandailing people located in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The name is the result of a misunderstanding by the first foreign purchaser of the variety, and no coffee is actually produced in the "Mandailing region". Lintong on the other hand, is named after the Lintong district, also located in North Sumatra.

Sei Mangkei Industrial Area[edit]

Sei Mangkei Industrial Area, also known as Sei Mangkei - Integrated Sustainable Palm Oil Cluster (SM-ISPOIC), is located in Simalungun Regency and was formally opened on 12 June 2010. Four companies have joined in this area, with investment costs totalling up to Rp1.5 trillion ($176 million).[6][7] In April 2011, three other companies also joined in the Sei Mangkei area. They are Procter & Gamble Co for making CPO derivatives of cosmetic raw materials, Ferrostaal AG and Fratelli Gianazza SpA.


Sipisopiso, North Sumatra
  • Lake Toba is the largest volcanic lake in the world. Located in the centre of North Sumatra, the lake can be reached via Parapat (Simalungun regency), Tongging (Karo regency), and Balige (Toba Samosir regency).
  • Samosir Island is a volcanic island in middle of Lake Toba, It is a popular tourist destination due to its exotic Batak history and the vistas it offers. The tourist resorts are concentrated in the Tuktuk, Tomok, Simanindo, and Pangururan areas.
  • Nias Island is an island off the western coast of Sumatra. Nias is an internationally popular surfing destination. The best known surfing area is Sorake Bay, close to the town of Teluk Dalam, on the southern tip. This is enclosed by the beaches of Lagundri and Sorake. Tourists can visit the island by plane from Medan, or by ferry from Sibolga.
  • Berastagi is a small highland town located 63 kilometers to the south of Medan, and is a popular weekend destination for city dwellers.
  • Lumbini Natural Park is a Buddhist theravada-style temple that is similar to Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar.
  • Dua Warna Waterfall is a two-coloured waterfall located on Sibolangit.
  • Berhala Island is a 2,5 hectares island located in the Malaka Strait near the boundary of Indonesia and Malaysia. It is a popular place for snorkeling and watching turtle nesting. Visitors can reach the island via boat from Sergei in the Serdang Bedagai regency.
  • Sipisopiso, one of the highest waterfalls in Indonesia, is located near Tongging in Karo regency.
  • Bahal temple, a ancient Buddhist monastery located on Padang Bolak, Padang Lawas Regency, around 3 hours journey with car from Padangsidempuan. The temple believes constructed between the 11th to 13th century CE.



The modern Kuala Namu International Airport was opened on July 25, 2013 and is located almost 40 kilometers from Medan. The airport replaces the old Polonia International Airport.[8] It serves flights to several Indonesian and Malaysian cities, along with flights to Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia. Flights to India and China are also planned. In passenger numbers, Kuala Namu is the fifth largest airport in Indonesia.

Polonia International Airport (Indonesian: Bandar Udara Internasional Polonia) (IATA: MESICAO: WIMM) (popularly Polonia Airport, as in Indonesia, Bandara Polonia) is located about 5 km from the Central Business District of Medan. It is the first international airport in Medan, although the airport is under air force authority. Polonia airport is the site of several crashes, is inappropriately located in the center of the city of Medan, has a difficult takeoff path and a short runway.


North Sumatra has an international seaport at Belawan, near Medan and is now preparing to have a new seaport at Kuala Tanjung, in Batubara Regency, for about Rp.1 trillion ($114 million) budget.[9]


External links[edit]