Sumatra

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{line, north, south}
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Sumatra (also spelled Sumatera) is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia (two larger islands, Borneo and New Guinea, are shared between Indonesia and other countries), and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km² with a population of 50,365,538. Its biggest city is Medan with a population of 1,770,000.

Settler colonies were arriving in Sumatra in 500 BC and several significant kingdoms flourished there. I Ching, a Chinese Buddhist monk, studied Sanskrit and spent four years of his life working in Palembang. The explorer Marco Polo also visited Sumatra in 1292.

Sumatra has a huge range of plant and animal species but has lost almost 50% of its tropical rainforest in the last 35 years and many species are Critically Endangered such as Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhino, and Sumatran Orangutan.

87% of Sumatrans are thought to be Muslim with 10% Christian, 2% Buddhist and 1% Hindu.[citation needed]

Contents

Etymology

Sumatra was known in ancient times by the Sanskrit names of Swarnadwīpa ("Island of Gold") and Swarnabhūmi ("Land of Gold"), due likely to the gold deposits of the island's highland.[1] The first word mentioning the name of Sumatra was the name of Srivijayan Haji (king) Sumatrabhumi ("King of the land of Sumatra"),[2] who sent an envoy to China in 1017. Arab geographers referred to the island as Lamri (Lamuri, Lambri or Ramni) in the 10-13th centuries, in reference to a kingdom near modern day Banda Aceh which was the first landfall for traders. Late in the 14th century the name Sumatra became popular, in reference to the kingdom of Samudra, which was a rising power. European writers in the 19th century found that the indigenous inhabitants did not have a name for the island.[3]

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