West Sumatra: Wikis


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West Sumatra
Sumatera Barat
West Sumatra emblem

Motto: Tuah Sakato (Minangkabau)
(United Prosperity)

Map showing West Sumatra within Indonesia
Capital Padang
Governor Marlis Rahman
Area 42,297.30 km2 (16,331 sq mi)
Population 4,241,000
Density 100.3 /km2 (260 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Minangkabau (88%), Batak (4%), Javanese (4%), Mentawai (1%)[1]
Religion Islam (98%), Christian (1.6%), Hindu (0.0032%), Buddhism (0.26%)
Languages Indonesian, Minangkabau, Mentawai
Time zone WIB (UTC+7)
Web site www.sumbarprov.go.id

West Sumatra (Indonesian: 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.



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. The rivers were known have provided important sailing transportation from the previous era to the end of the last century. The Minangkabau ancestors were believed to have arrived on this route. They sailed from Asia (Indo-China) via the South China Sea, crossing the Malacca Strait and later settled along the Kampar, Siak and Indragiri (or Kuantan) rivers. A portion of them lived and developed their culture and traits around the Limapuluh Koto regency.

The integration with migrants in the ensuing periods introduced cultural changes and an increase in population. Their settlement area gradually became diminished and eventually they spread to other parts of West Sumatra. A portion of them went to the Agam regency while others went to the now Tanah Datar regency. From those areas onward, further spread of the population occurred north of the Agam regency, in particular, the Lubuk Sikaping. Rao and Ophir districts. Most of them settled in the western area such as the coastline and some in the southern parts in Solok, Selayo and the surrounding areas of Muara and Sijunjung.

The history of the West Sumatra Province became more accessible at the time of the rule by Adityawarman. This ruler left considerable amount of evidence of himself, although he did not proclaim that he was the Minangkabau King. Adityawarman ruled Pagaruyung, a region believed by the Minangkabau to be the center of its culture. Adityawarman was the most important figure in Minangkabau history. Apart from introducing a government system by a ruling monarch, he also contributed significantly to the Minangkabau world. His most important contribution was the spread of Buddhism. This religion had a very strong influence in the Minangkabau life. The evidence of such influence found in West Sumatra today includes names such as Saruaso, Pariangan, Padang Barhalo, Candi, Biaro, Sumpur and Selo.

Since the death of Adityawarman in the middle of the 17th century the history of West Sumatra seems more complex. During that time, the connection of West Sumatra with the outside world, in particular, Aceh, became more intense. West Sumatra at that time was the political dominion of Aceh which also monopolized the economy of the area. Coupled with the intensive connection Islam entered into West Sumatra. The new faith eventually became fundamental to the social and cultural way of life in the region. Sheik Burhanuddin was regarded as the first preacher of Islam in West Sumatra. Prior to expanding the faith in the region, he was studying in Aceh.

The dominating influence of Aceh’s politics and economy did not make the people of West Sumatra happy. Ultimately, the growing dissatisfaction gave way to the acceptance of the Dutch although the presence of them also opened up a new chapter in the history of West Sumatra. The arrival of the Dutch in the region caused them to enter the era of colonialism in the very of essence of its meaning.

The first westerner to reach West Sumatra was the French explorer Jean Parmentier in 1529. However, the westerners who came for economic and political reasons were the Dutch. The Dutch commercial fleet was seen along the southern coast of West Sumatra between 1595 – 1598. Apart from the Dutch, other European nationalities also came to the region such as the Portuguese and the English.


West Sumatra lies in the middle of the western coast of Sumatra, and has an area of 42,297.30 km². Geographic features include plains, mountainous volcanic highlands formed by the Barisan mountain range that runs from north-west to south-east, and an offshore island archipelago called the Mentawai Islands. The West Sumatran coastline faces the Indian Ocean and stretches 375 km from North Sumatra province in the north-west to Bengkulu in the south-east. The lakes of West Sumatra include: Maninjau (99.5 km²), Singkarak (130.1 km²), Diatas (31.5 km²), Dibawah (14.0 km²), Talang (5.0 km²). The rivers of West Sumatra include: Kuranji, Anai, Ombilin, Suliki, Agam, Sinamar, Arau. The mountains & volcanoes of West Sumatra include: Marapi (2,891 m), Sago (2,271 m), Singgalang (2,877 m), Talakmau (2,912 m), Talang (2,572 m), Tandikat (2,438 m).

Flora and fauna

The province includes large areas of dense tropical forest, which is home to a host of species including: Rafflesia arnoldii (world's largest flower), Sumatran Tiger, Siamang, Malayan tapir, Sumatran Serow, Rusa Deer, Malayan Sun Bear, Bornean Clouded Leopard, and many birds and butterflies.

The province includes two National Parks: Siberut National Park and Kerinci Seblat National Park, as well as a number of nature reserves: Rimbo Panti Nature Reserve, Batang Palupuh Nature Reserve, Lembah Anai Nature Reserve, Lembah Harau Nature Reserve, Bung Hatta Grand Forest Park, Beringin Sakti Nature Reserve.


The province is served by the newly-opened Minangkabau International Airport, 23 km north-west of Padang in Ketaping, Padang Pariaman regency. The airport as hub and direct flied services to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and many cities in Indonesia.

Significant roads include the Trans-Sumatran Highway which runs through the province and heads north-west towards Medan and south-east towards Jakarta, the road between Padang and Bukittinggi, and the road between Bukittinggi and Pekanbaru. The provincial government plans to upgrade the later two roads over the next few years to improve traffic flows [1].

Regular bus services run between Padang and Bukittinggi, and other major cities of Sumatra. Other public transport options within the province include oplet, taxi and horse cart (bendi).

The Teluk Bayur port in Padang is the largest and busiest on the western coast of Sumatra. It is used for exporting goods from West Sumatra as well as from some areas of the neighboring provinces.

Railway services run between Padang and Pariaman.

Administrative areas

Map of West Sumatra

West Sumatra consists of the following cities:

While the regencies are:


The Minangkabau people inhabit the area of West Sumatra province on the island Sumatra. They are predominantly Muslim, and they have a reputation throughout Indonesia as traders.

Mentawaians live on the Mentawai Islands, off the western coast of Sumatra, that are also part of the province. They speak Mentawai languages, which are not intelligible with either Indonesian nor Minangkabau. Most of the Mentawais are Christians nowadays.


West Sumatra is also home of several professional soccer clubs. The most popular of them is Semen Padang, which regularly plays its matches in Agus Salim Stadium, the biggest stadium in West Sumatra.


The prime tourist attractions of West Sumatra are the natural environment, and the culture and history of the Minangkabau and Mentawai people.

Natural attractions of the mainland include the tropical forests, mountains, volcanos, lakes, valleys, rivers & waterfalls in the highlands, the fauna and flora, and the beaches around Padang. Many areas are protected as part of National Parks and Reserves. The city of Bukittinggi is a popular central location in the highlands from which to explore the culture and history of the Minangkabau people, including architecture, crafts, dances, music and food. There are a number of museums and cultural centers. Pariaman has one of the famous festivals, Tabuik. The Mentawai Islands are a popular destination for surfers and those looking to experience the culture and more primitive lifestyle of the Mentawai people. For developing West Sumatra tourism, in 2006 the government opened tourist train railway service run between Padang - Padang Panjang - Sawahlunto. Tour de Singkarak, an annual cycling race since 2009 also promoting West Sumatra tourism.

The favourite tourism places are :


  1. ^ Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 2003.  

See also

External links

Coordinates: 1°00′S 100°30′E / 1°S 100.5°E / -1; 100.5

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : Southeast Asia : Indonesia : Sumatra : West Sumatra
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West Sumatra (Sumatra Barat) is in Sumatra, Indonesia.

  • Padang - Indonesia's capital of spicy food
  • Bukittinggi - A mild weather city, to run away from the heat
  • Padang Panjang - A pleasant market down near Bukittinggi
  • Pariaman - The Sunset Beach City
  • Sawahlunto - Little Hollad of Sumatra
  • Pasaman - The Wild Life Paradise at West Sumatra
  • Solok and South Solok - Land of Thousand Lakes
  • Batusangkar - The Heart of Minangkabau Culture and Spirit
  • Payakumbuh- Land of Rocky Mountains


West Sumatra bounded in the north by the province of North Sumatra, in the west by the Indian ocean, in the south by the provinces of Bengkulu and Jambi, and in the east by Riau province.

85% of the population are Minangkabau, notable in the annals of anthropology as the world's largest matriarchal society: children take their names from their mother's side and, on marriage, the husband moves into the wife's family. Culturally, the hallmarks of Minangkabau culture are their famously spicy food, served all around Indonesia in Padang restaurants (named after the capital), and the soaring-eaved rumah gadang house, shaped like a series of buffalo horns.

On the other hand, the tribal inhabitants of the Mentawai archipelago, a group of islands about 100 miles off the coast of west Sumatra, cling to a traditional agrarian lifestyle that is totally different from that of Minangkabau.


Most people in West Sumatra uses Minang language in their daily conversation. It's somewhat similar to Malay language, due to the fact that Melayu language is the origin root of both languages.

Get in

By plane

Minangkabau International Airport (Bandara Internasional Minangkabau - BIM) (PDG), located 23 km north-west of Padang, is the main gateway to West Sumatra, with frequent flights to destinations throughout Sumatra and Java, as well as Kuala Lumpur (AirAsia). Tiger Airways and SilkAir previously connected Padang to Singapore, but Tiger ended service October 28, 2009 and SilkAir no longer serves PDG.

Note that if you are flying internationally out of Minangkabau Airport, you are subject to departure tax (75,000 Rupiah as at Feb '08) which you would need to pay for in Rupiah so save some bills for the trip out. The domestic tax is Rp. 30,000.



1. Anai Valley

  There is a special train to Anai Valley too, but it must a large group. Phone: 32200 & fax: 28046

2. Padang Panjang city

3. Singkarak Lake

  15 Km from Padang Panjang city to the northeast. The largest lake in West Sumatera. The volcanic lake.

4. Diatas and Dibawah Lake

5. Harau Valley

6. Maninjau Lake

7. Pagaruyung Palace

8. Air manis Beach


In West Sumatra its not easy to get off the tourist trail without language, the hotel performances are pretty contrived sometimes.

If you can, get down to Padang Panjang 10km downhill from Bukittinggi en route to Padang, the capital (Padang is a bit boring but has a huge market complex for last minute purchases before flying out).


West Sumatra is a great place for a lovely food, its cuisine is one of Indonesia's best. They have a lot of hot & spicy dishes, since chili is in the majority of their food. Curry is also a big part of their dishes, and quite a few use coconut milk. Some of the well-known dishes include: rendang, Babat, dendeng balado, gulai kakap, gulai ayam, gulai jariang, kalio, etc. All of the traditional food are Halal food, due to the Islamic root of the community.


Teh Talua is West Sumatra's provincial drink. If you've chosen a more set up cafe stall ask for a teh talua. Don't grimace - bitter black tea poured over whipped egg and sugar creates a custardy flavoured "cappuccino froth" on your tea. The best has a squeeze of lime. My recommendation for teh talua is Desy's cafe in Jl Pasar Baru I, in Central Padang behind the main market, but more specifically for navigating there, behind the Balai Kota (Town Hall) and Police Station ("Belakang Benteng" is a really clear instruction to a driver) The tiny cafe is where police staff eat and Desyeni the proprietor has a solid lineage of culinary expertise behind her. All food guaranteed clean and superb and absolutely local.

Stay safe

Safer than most other areas because of a Muslim ethic and intact social fabric. Keep safe by making friends. The Minang take great community responsibility. Talk to people and they will look out for you as one of their own. At the same time crime exists and normal precautions should be taken. Importantly, respect their values and, if female, try not to travel alone after dark--in company with other women is OK. The ethos - the community can't look after you if you don't look after yourself. Or if you go places where the honest eyes can't see. So being alone or the only female in male company at night is considered asking for it.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

West Sumatra


West Sumatra

  1. A province of Indonesia.

See also

w:West Sumatra

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