- Discover Indonesia Online

You are currently in > Indonesia > Sumatra island > West Sumatra

Now on
Blog XML feed

West Sumatra

West Sumatra ('Sumatera Barat', abbreviated to 'Sumbar') is a province of Indonesia. It lies on the west coast of the island Sumatra, and borders the provinces of North Sumatra ('Sumatera Utara') to the north, Riau and Jambi to the east, and Bengkulu to the southeast. It includes the Mentawai Islands off the coast. The capital of the province is Padang.

A set of pictures taken between 1892 and 1905 .
A set of pictures taken between 1892 and 1905 .

Western Sumatera is the habitat of about four milion Minangkabau (normally called Minang), an energetic population which is known all over Indonesia for their strong relations, it's sharp mind of trading, hot kitchen and strong believe in Islam. The Minang are also travelers and migrants, because of their tradition of merantau, young people trying to find their luck elsewhere, it's most lik (...)

Besides Danau Toba ('Lake Toba'), the fertile valleys and picturesque lakes of the West Sumateran highlands are undoubtedly the most impressive and most visited parts of the island. This has been the living area of the highly dynamic Minangkabau - which have spread all over Indonesia and are known for their trading spirit, kitchen and traditional lifestyle - for centuries. Sum (...)

Bukittinggi ('High Hill') is in the middle of the Agam Valley, one of the three valleys which form the heart of the Minangkabau. While Padang is the modern business and governmental center, Bukittinggi is the cultural capital of the Minangkabau principality. Bukittinggi, the biggest city in the highlands, grew from the Dutch fortress 'de Kock', which was built during the Paderi w (...)

Minangkabau fabrics of rich gold- and silverbrocate play an important role during events like birth, circumstantion, marriage and funeral. These sparkling and difficultly designed fabrics form a materialistic expression of the Minangkabau adat. Like a traditional proverb tells: 'Fabrics are the skins of the adat'. Women weaved these costly fabrics on a surface of silk or cotton, on whic (...)

Just behind Padang, along the western coast of Sumatra, is a beautiful highland with mountain ranges and valleys. Fertile rice-fields, impressive volcanoes and spectacular crater lakes take turns. The luak nan tigo or the 'three valleys', roughly form a triangle with in the center the holy Gunung Merapi (2891 meter), the highest and most active volcano in the environment; this should be the (...)

Padang is the provincial capital of Sumatera Barat ('West Sumatra') and the main gate to the Minangkabau highlands. The city, with a population of about 500,000 people, grew about ten per cent over the last years, and it's seaport, six kilometer south of the city, is the biggest along the western coast of Sumatra. Ships moored here fo load rubber, cinnamon, coffee, tea, nutmeg, rattan, plyw (...)

The unique character of the Minangkabau is illustrated in their architecture. To understand their houses, knowledge of their place on society is needed. This system is explained by the Minangkabau themselves. Traditional Minangkabau houses are called rumah gadang lit. 'big house'. They are rectangle, long structures with walls that seem to fall over in towards the points of the r (...)

The history of West Sumatra is closely related to the history of the Minangkabau people. Archaeological evidence indicates that the area surrounding the Limapuluh Koto regency forms the first area inhabited by the Minangkabau. This interpretation seems to be justified as the area of the Limapuluh Koto regency covers a number of large rivers which meet at the eastern part of the Sumatran coastline. (...)

Western Sumatras most famous place of visit is Danau Maninjau, (maninjau means 'view over') embedded in a crater of seventeen bij eight km, and surrounded by steep 600 meter high forest covered borders. Danau Maninjau can compare itself with Danau Toba ('Lake Toba'), only it's a bit smaller. On quiet days the surface is almost like a mirror; the lake if full with fish, (...)

The wide and fertile valley Limapuluh Kota ('Fifty Villages'), spreads along the northern foot of Gunung Malintang (2262 meters). The biggest city is Payakumbuh, an administrative centre and a market place, 33 kilometers east of Bukittinggi. The entire valley is intensely cultivated and scattered with numerous megalyths which are left behind by an unknown prehistoric population. These remai (...)

South of Tanahdatar is Danau Singkarak ('Singkarak Lake'), a crater-lake about the same size and beauty of Danau Maninjau. From Batusangkar, a side road on the low crater edge will bring you to the nice village of Blimbing ('star fruit'), a traditional location with several rumah gadang. Some of them are ought to be about 300 years old, and are built without a single na (...)

Six kilometers east of Limo Kaum is Batusangkar, the biggest city in the Tanahdatar area. The Dutch built fortress 'van der Capellen' here in 1821, during the Paderi wars. The city council (balai adat), in the southeastern corner of the city square, was built in traditional Minang style in 1967 and decorated with rich local motives. There is little that remains of the colonial ti (...)

The famous weaving village Pandai Sikat (or 'Sikek', the name lit. means 'weavers') is twelve km south of Bukit Tinggi, between Gunung Singgalang and Gunung Marapi in the far south of the Agam Valley. Weaving has been very important since 1780. Cotton was grown in the western lowlands, but the demand for it was so high that they also imported it from Surat in India. Nowadays weaving (...)

Padang Panjang (sometimes written as Padangpanjang, means long field) is located in the cool highlands of West Sumatra, inland from the provincial capital Padang. It sits on a plateau beneath the volcanoes Mount Marapi and Mount Singgalang. It has an area of 23 kmē and a population of over 40,000. Literally translated, the town name means "long field". One of the buildings of Sekolah Tinggi Seni (...)

Fertile rice terraces and traditional houses are scattered over the Tanahdatar Valley, south and east of Gunung Merapi. This has been the center of the old Minangkabau principalty for over 500 years, after it was conquered by the Paderi-rebels in the early 19th century. Most places of interest can be seen in one day on foot and bemo. Travel towards Padangpanjang from Bukit (...)

Pariaman is a coastal city in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Pariaman has 72,089 inhabitants (2002), an area of 73.4 kmē and a 12 km coastline. "Pariaman" means "safe area". The contemporary economy is primarily agricultural with 79% of land in farming. Minangkabau International Airport, West Sumatra's major airport, is located near the city. The city is administratively divided into three su (...)

Payakumbuh is a city north-east of Bukittinggi (West Sumatra), Indonesia. It has an area of 80.43 kmē and a population of over 99,300 people. Literally translated, the city name means "grassy swamp". Payakumbuh is known for flying duck races and foods like gelamai, a sweet coconut palm sugared snack. Transport options within the city include bendi, a form of horse-cart. Pa (...)

Sawahlunto is a city in West Sumatra, Indonesia. It has an area of 273.43 kmē and a population of over 55,600 people. Administratively Sawahlunto is divided by 4 districts, 10 sub districts and 27 villages (desa) and is located at 95 kilometer from Padang (capital of West Sumatra). Sawahlunto municipal has an area of 27,345 Ha. Its northern border is Tanah Datar Regency, to the e (...)

The Minangkabau language (autonym: Baso Minang(kabau); Indonesian: Bahasa Minangkabau) is an Austronesian language, spoken by the Minangkabau-people of West Sumatra, in the western part of Riau and in several cities throughout Indonesia by migrated Minangkabau, who often trade or have a restaurant. It is also spoken in a part of Malaysia. Due to great grammatical similarities between th (...)

The staple ingredients of the Minangkabau diet are rice, fish, coconut, green leafy vegetables and chili. The usage of meat is mainly limited to special occasions, and beef and chicken are most commonly used. Pork is not halal ('allowed') and therefore not consumed, while lamb, goat and game are rarely consumed for reasons of taste and availability. Spiciness is a characteristic of Minangka (...)

Your website for tickets in Indonesia!
Looking for e-tickets for flights in Indonesia? Here's your solution! Order your e-tickets at
Add this page to your email, your own blog, MySpace, Facebook, or whatsoever via AddThis:
Bookmark and Share

Additional information, updates or feedback? Send them in!

Feedback Form


17 pictures in this gallery 
MySQL connection failed.