Sumatra (Sans. Samudra, the ocean), an island of the Indian archipelago, in the Indo-Malay group, lying directly under the equator, S. W. of the Malay peninsula and parallel to it, between lat. 5° 40' N. and 5° 55' S., and Ion. 95° 20' and 106° 5' E.; bounded X. by the bay of Bengal, X. E. by the strait of Malacca, E. by the China sea, the strait of Banca, and the Java sea, S. by the strait of Sunda, and S. W. by the Indian ocean; extreme length 1,050 m., greatest breadth 250 m.; area, 160,000 sq. m.; pop. estimated at from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000. About three fourths of the island is subject to the Netherlands, a portion directly, and the rest through dependent native rulers. To the first class belong four colonial establishments, which include the adjoining islands: 1. The government officially known as Sumatra's West Coast, comprising the- western seaboard from lat, 2° 30' X. to 1° 55' S., and including the residencies of Tapanuli and Padang; aggregate area, about 47,000 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 1,620,1)79. 2. Bencoolen, on the S. W. coast, described under its own title. 3. Lampong, at the S. extremity of the island; area, 10,000 sq. m.; pop. 112,271. 4. Palem-bang, on the S. E. coast opposite Banca. (See Palembang.) The principal native state in Sumatra is Acheen, which embraces the northern end of the island from coast to coast, and is wholly independent of the Dutch. (See Acheen.) The territory of the cannibal Ba-taks extends southward from Acheen, along the interior, to the border of the colonial districts of the W. coast.
The largest native countries in the east arc Siak, opposite the S. extremity of Malacca, and Jambi, between Siak and the Dutch residency of Palembang. - The physical conformation of Sumatra resembles that of Java in the long volcanic range which extends throughout the island, although the active volcanoes are not nearly so numerous, and probably do not exceed five. The range is near the W. coast, from which it is separated by a strip of lowlands from less than 20 to 30 m. wide, above which the mountains rise abruptly to a height of from 2,500 to 5,000 ft,, with many lofty peaks. They form four or five parallel ridges with elevated plateaus between them. There are four summits over 10,000 ft. high, and six others over 5,000 ft. Mt. Berapi, just S. of the equator (12,000 ft.), is the centre of a volcanic district containing numerous hot springs, and continually emits vapor. The altitude of Mt. Ophir (or Passaman peak), at the equator, and Mt. Indrapura, in lat. 1° 30' S., is estimated at upward of 12,000 ft., and a height of 11,000 ft. is assigned to the Abong-Abong mountain, which rises from the very centre of the unexplored interior of Acheen. The portion of Sumatra which lies eastward of the great linear volcanic range is a vast low and comparatively level forest region, watered by numerous and extensive rivers, and subject to frequent inundation near the coast.
The formation of this great plain is alluvial, and comparatively recent in geological time, while the W. coast is believed to be gradually wearing away. According to Wallace, Sumatra was formerly connected with the Malay peninsula, and also with Borneo. In western Sumatra the underlying formation consists of granite and syenite, overspread with mud and coral, sandstone, and lava and other volcanic products. Limestone and marble occur in Padang, and there are extensive coal beds in the island, but of very recent origin. Sumatra has long been noted for its yield of gold, which is still considerable, being derived from the beds of the rivers, particularly the Indragiri, the Jambi, and their tributaries. Iron, copper, tin, sulphur, and petroleum are also found. - The coast is about 2,500 m. in circuit. The island terminates on the northwest in Acheen head and on the northeast in Diamond point. Between these points stretches the X. coast of Acheen, formerly known as the Pedir coast, on which is the town of Passier, believed to be the first place to which the name Samuthrah (Sumatra) was applied. The shore is high and bold, and the anchorage is mostly in open roadsteads.
The X. E. coast is low, and from the narrowest part of the strait of Malacca southward to the strait of Sunda it is bordered by extensive banks of mud and sand, making navigation intricate and dangerous. The entire W. coast is exposed to a very heavy surf, and more especially that portion which lies S. of the equator. It is indented by several excellent harbors, that of Tapanuli being considered one of the finest in the world. Parallel to it and about 60 m. distant is a chain of islands, between lat. 3° X. and 5° 30' S., comprising several of considerable size, including Pulo Babi or Hog island (50 m. long), Pulo Nias (70 m.), Sibiru, Si-pora, the Poggi islands, and Engano. Most of them are high, well wooded, and thickly inhabited. The chief islands off the E. coast are Banca and Rupat, the latter in lat. 2° N., extending about 25 m. each way, and separated from Sumatra by a narrow strait, only navigable by small vessels. - The large rivers of Sumatra flow down the eastern watershed, and although there are many rivers on the TV. coast, they all have short courses and are very rapid.
The principal eastern watercourses are the Rakan, flowing northward from the equator; the Siak, 200 m. long, in the native state of Siak; the Kamper, still further S.; the Indra-giri, having a general eastward course not far from the 1st parallel of S. latitude, and said to be 300 m. long; the Jambi, in the country of that name; and the Musi or Palembang, falling into the strait of Banca, the largest river in Sumatra and navigable 200 m. inland. In the lower part of their courses these rivers are very sluggish, and they all have extensive deltas. Among the mountains in the west are several lakes, of which the best known is Sinkara, nearly 1° S. of the equator, at a height of 1,700 ft. above the sea. It is 10 m. long, 3 m. broad, and 1,182 ft. deep. The Manindyu lake, in the same region, occupies the elliptic crater of an extinct volcano, and is 6 m. long by 4 m. in width, with a depth of 2,080 ft. - The climate of Sumatra is warm and moist, the thermometer ranging throughout the year between 70° and 93°. There are about 200 days of rain in the year on the Padang plateau, 2,400 ft. above the ocean.
During the N. W. monsoon, which blows from November to January, the weather is excessively rainy; but from June to September, when the S. E. monsoon prevails, the rainfall is limited to showers. Except in the marshy districts, the coasts are moderately healthful. Sumatra is overspread with vast forests, rich in the most valuable products, of the tropics. Much of the E. coast is covered with mangrove bushes. Further inland are found palms, and trees of gigantic growth, many of them being more than 100 ft. high. On the TV. shore, besides the myrtle and several varieties of fig, all the fruit trees common to the archipelago abound, and most of the mountains are covered to their summits with jungle. In the forests are many valuable timber trees, immense tree ferns, bamboos, rattans, the camphor tree, caoutchouc, and benzoin. The parasitic Raf-flesia bears a flower with a calyx a yard in diameter. The soil of Sumatra is remarkable for its fertility, and yields large and valuable crops of rice, coffee, pepper, and tobacco, and some cotton. The cocoanut tree, the betelnut, and the sago palm also afford important products. There is a considerable export of coffee to the United States from Padang, where it is grown on the plateau.
In Acheen pepper is the chief crop. - The Sumatran fauna corresponds closely with that of Java and Borneo, the other great islands of the Indo-Malay group. Of the quadrumana it comprises 11 species, among them the siamang ape, and the orangoutang, whose sole other habitat is Borneo; it is believed to be confined to the 1ST. TV. portion of Sumatra. The tiger, the two-horned rhinoceros, and the elephant (E. Sumatranus) are all found on the island. Many elephants were tamed in former times, but no attempt is now made to domesticate them. Other mammals are the musk deer and great Malay deer, the tapir, the flying lemur, the Malayan sun bear, squirrels, and bats. There are many beautiful pheasants, parrots, partridges, woodpeckers, herons, and the large hornbill. Crocodiles and pythons are the most formidable reptiles. The forms of insect life are numerous and varied, including 21 papilionidce, among which is the leaf butterfly.' In many parts of the island travelling is rendered uncomfortable by swarms of leeches and mosquitoes. Buffaloes, horses, goats, and Chinese pigs are the common domestic animals. - The inhabitants of Sumatra are of the Malay race, of which the island is supposed to have been the cradle.
They are divided into several tribes, who speak languages that are considered as dialects of one common tongue. There are tribes in the interior whose origin is involved in obscurity. The people of the N. part of Sumatra, about Acheen, are taller, stouter, and of darker complexion than the other tribes, and are supposed to have a considerable infusion of Hindoo blood. The Bataks or Battas, who occupy the country immediately S. of these people, are smaller and of lighter complexion, and in some respects a very singular race. (See Batak.) Mohammedanism is the prevailing religion, but it is in a relaxed state, and the people of the interior cannot be said to belong to any particular faith. Polygamy is not common except among the chiefs. The Malays round the coast appear to be collected from different parts of the archipelago, and it is estimated that more than 6,000 Chinese have settled in the Dutch possessions. Among the natives the ordinary dress is a turban and loose trowsers reaching to the knee; the upper part of the body is commonly uncovered in both sexes, but a scarf is sometimes worn about the shoulders. The houses are raised on posts or pillars from 4 to 8 ft. from the ground, and in some parts of the country they are erected in trees.
Those of the poorer classes are made of bamboo and thatched with grass, but the houses of the more wealthy arc generally framed of wood and the sides enclosed by large sheets of bark. Agriculture is in a very rude state. The only important manufactures are of utensils and cloth for domestic purposes. Iron for native use is now wholly imported. The trade of Sumatra is principally carried on with Java, Madura, Singapore, Malacca, Penang, and British India. The chief exports are pepper, gold dust, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, mace, benzoin, gutta percha, copper, tin, sulphur, and coral. - For administrative purposes the Dutch colonial possessions are divided into districts, each under a controller, who visits the various, villages from time to time. The native inhabitants are forbidden to bear firearms. The entire number of Europeans in the country probably does not exceed 2,000. The chief towns are Acheen in the north, Palembang in the southeast, Bencoolen in the southwest, and Padang on the W. coast. - The first historical notice of Sumatra occurs in Arab manuscripts narrating voyages made thither in the 9th century.
The island was visited in 1292 by Marco Polo, who described it very accurately under the name of Java the Less. It began to be known to foreigners as Sumatra in the last half of the 14th century. Before the middle of the 15th century it was reached by the Venetian traveller Nicolo di Conti. The Portuguese first arrived there in 1509, visiting the Acheen coast, where they found a powerful king, who effectually opposed their efforts to obtain a footing. The hostilities thus begun between Portugal and Acheen continued with but little intermission till 1641, when the Portuguese lost Malacca. Sumatra was first visited by the Dutch in 1599 and by the English in 1G02. The Dutch formed a settlement at Padang in 1649, got possession of some districts in the S. part of the island, and established several factories. In 1795 all their Sumatran territories fell into the hands of the English, who had established a station at Bencoolen in 1G85. They were restored in 1815, but Bencoolen was retained till 1824, when all the British possessions in Sumatra were ceded to the Netherlands in exchange for Malacca and small settlements upon the coast 8 of India. The Dutch have since found means to annex a great extent of territory.
At the time of the treaty of 1824, the Dutch government pledged itself not to assail Acheen, but for many years the prevalence of piracy and the ill treatment of foreign vessels on the N. coast have led to much complaint. All objections on the part of Great Britain to the extension of Dutch rule in Sumatra were removed by a treaty made in 1871, and in consequence of repeated violations of faith on the part of the sultan of Acheen, a naval and military expedition was despatched from the Netherlands to the N. coast of Sumatra in 1873. It was repulsed by the Acheenese with heavy loss, and the war has since been carried on with varying success.
SlMBAWA, an island of the Indian archipelago, in the Sunda chain, lying between Flores on the east and Lombok on the west, the S. W. point in lat. 9° 2' S., Ion. 116° 42' E.; length E. and W. about 170 m., extreme breadth 50 m.; estimated area, 6,000 sq. m.; pop. about 80,000. Wallace classifies it zoologically in the Timor group. A deep bay penetrates the N. coast, and it is separated from Flores by Sapi and Mangerai straits, between which lies the island of Comodo. Sumbawa is divided into six native states, each governed by a rajah who acknowledges the supremacy of the Dutch. They are Tomboro and Sumbawa on the N. coast, Bima on the E. coast, where the Dutch have a resident, and Dompo, Sangar, and Papakat. The island is mountainous, and lies within the volcanic belt of the Indian archipelago, containing Mt. Tomboro, a volcano near the N. coast, 8,940 ft. high, the eruption of which in 1815 caused a subsidence of the surface, and was characterized by tremendous explosions which were heard over an area having a radius of more than 800 m. Nearly 12,000 persons were killed; the ashes fell in Java and Flores to the depth of several inches, and even in Sumatra, 840 m. from the volcano. In Lombok immense damage was done and many lives were lost.
In 1836 a less destructive eruption occurred. Gold, sulphur, and saltpetre are found. Sumbawa is not well wooded, but sandal and sapan wood and teak occur to a limited extent. It has one of the best breeds of horses in the Indian archipelago, and they are extensively exported. The pearl oyster is found. The manners and language of the natives strongly resemble those of the inhabitants of Celebes. The island has been subject to the Dutch since 1676.