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Northern Sumatra, with it's colorful and ethnically mixed population, is after Java, the most crowded province in Indonesia. Currently it has over 11 milion inhabitants and that overshoots Kalimantan or Nusa Tenggara. Dynamic Batak, Malay, Javanese, Indians and Chinese created a big variety of modern and traditional Indonesian culture. The economy, which has been based on plantation for (...)

Lake Toba (Danau Toba), with it's mystical island Samosir, forms the heart of the beautifull, usually rough Toba Batak highlands - a giant caldera high in the treeless mountains mountains of northern Sumatra. The lake was formed about 100,000 years ago after a giant eruption. This biggest lake of southeastern Asia measures 100 times 31 kilometer and coveres an area of 1146 It's also (...)

Bohorok is the administrative unit that contains Bukit Lawang. Indonesians normally say Bohorok when they refer to Bukit Lawang. The area of Bohorok has many plantations like cocoa, palm oil, natural rubber, or anges, etc. Bukit Lawang started as an orangutan rehabilitation center, but quickly developed into a major tourist destination of North Sumatra. Without tourists there would not (...)

The woven fabrics (ulos among the Toba, uis among the Karo) can't be missed from the traditional Batak community. Earlier they formed the daily dressing. Nowadays they are given as a present at special occasions, to strengthen the relationships between relatives. The need to exchange ulos at weddings, births and funerals is the most important reason for producing th (...)

Most main roads which run through the Batak highlands, date back to the Dutch colonial time and the settlements along the roads are not traditional. Batakvillages used to be built far away from main roads for security reasons. The Karo villages, for example, were located on high mountain edges, surrounded by steep cliffs, which causes them to be defendable very well. People who want to see the tra (...)

The Simalungun or Timor Batak ('Eastern Batak') live in the highlands between Danau Toba and the eastcoast, nowadays an important plantation area where rubber, palmoil, cacaco and tea is being cultivated. The area is cut in half by a piece of the trans-Sumatra highway of 100 kilometres, which runs from Pematang Sianter towards Prapat. The name Simalungun dates back to the past and means (...)

Tanah Karo or Karoland, the homeland of the Karo Batak, is an extraordinary fertile plateau in the centre of the vulcanic Bukit Barisan, south of Medan. It has a surface of about 5000 and is being surrounded by high peaks. The northern border rises steel from the densely forested area's about 50 to 60 km from the coast, while the southern border just touches the banks of Danau Toba. (...)

The districts of Northern-, Central- and Southern Tapanuli roughly cover the southern part of the province, one thirds of the total area. In the north thei border at Danau Toba and in the south to Riau and Western Sumatra. Northern Tapanuli is inhabited by the Toba Batak. The Mandailing Batak and the Angkola Batak live in the southern areas. Many of them converted to the islam in the 19 (...)

The picturesque city of Berastagi is located on an altitude of 1330 metres at the northern edgde of the Karo plateau, 68 kilometres south of Medan (about two hours by car). The climate is very nice: the days are remarkably mild, and the nights cool. Ther city was founded in the 1920's as a Dutch governmental location, including 9-hole golf course and big European villas. Nowadays the ci (...)

Ever since the 16th century christian traders visited the harbours of Sumatra, and franciscan munks served the foreign community in Aceh. The only populations which were allowed to convert during the colonial period were those who showed fierce resistance against the islam, especially in the Batak highlands and the Niha (from the island Nias). In the 19th century, several missionaries m (...)

A small island, 130 kilometer long and 45 kilometer wide, slightly smaller than Bali, Nias lying just 125 km off Sumatra's west coast, administratively belonged to the North Sumatra, province. Like any other western island off Sumatra, Nias stands quite apart. Its rugged terrain, malarial climate and warlike population having served to isolate from the mainstream of Sumatran culture for many centu (...)

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