Aceh (/ˈɑːtʃeɪ/) is a province of Indonesia, located at the northern end of Sumatra. Its capital and largest city is Banda Aceh. It is close to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India and separated from them by the Andaman Sea. Granted a special autonomous status, Aceh is a religiously conservative territory and the only Indonesian province practicing Sharia law officially. There are ten indigenous ethnic groups in this region, the largest being the Acehnese people, accounting for approximately 80% to 90% of the region's population.

Aceh is the place where the spread of Islam in Indonesia began, and was a key factor of the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia. Islam reached Aceh (Kingdoms of Fansur and Lamuri) around 1250 AD. In the early seventeenth century the Sultanate of Aceh was the most wealthy, powerful and cultivated state in the Malacca Straits region. Aceh has a history of political independence and resistance to control by outsiders, including the former Dutch colonists and later the Indonesian government.

Aceh has substantial natural resources of oil and natural gas with some estimates that Aceh gas reserves are one of the largest in the world.[3] Aceh was the closest point of land to the epicenter of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which devastated much of the western coast of the province. Approximately 170,000 Indonesians were killed or went missing in the disaster.[4] The disaster helped precipitate the peace agreement between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Regional transcription(s)
 • Jawoëاچيه دارالسلام
Meuseujid Raya
Danau Laut Tawar
Rubiah Island Aceh
Taman nasional gunung lauser. Aceh
Seulawaih Agam
Aceh Tsunami Museum
Flag of Aceh
Official seal of Aceh
Serambi Mekkah
Porch of Mecca
"Five goals"
Location of Aceh in Indonesia.
Location of Aceh in Indonesia.
Coordinates: 5°33′N 95°19′E / 5.550°N 95.317°ECoordinates: 5°33′N 95°19′E / 5.550°N 95.317°E
Country Indonesia
EstablishedDecember 7, 1956
(and largest city)
Banda Aceh
 • GovernorIrwandi Yusuf (PNA)
 • Vice GovernorNova Iriansyah
 • Total58,376.81 km2 (22,539.41 sq mi)
Area rank11th
125 m (410 ft)
Highest elevation
3,466 m (11,371 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 • Total5,189,500
 • Rank14th
 • Density89/km2 (230/sq mi)
 • Density rank20th
Warga Aceh (id)
Kawom Aceh (ace)
 • Ethnic groups70.65% Acehnese
8.94% Javanese
7.22% Gayo
3.29% Batak
2.13% Alas
1.49% Simeulue
1.40 Aneuk Jamee
1.11% Tamiang Malay
1.04% Singkil
0.74% Minangkabau[2]
 • ReligionIslam 98.19%
Protestantism 1.12%
Buddhism 0.16%
Catholicism 0.07%
Hinduism 0.003% Confucianism 0.0008%
Others 0.006%
 • LanguagesIndonesian (official)
Acehnese (regional)
Gayo, Simeulue, Tamiang Malay, Aneuk Jamee, Alas-Kluet, Singkil (minority)
Time zoneUTC+7 (Indonesia Western Time)
23xxx, 24xxx
Area codes(62)6xx
ISO 3166 codeID-AC
Vehicle signBL
GRP per capitaUS$2,239.49
GRP rank26th
HDI (2016)Increase 0.700 (High)
HDI rank12th (2014)


Aceh was first known as Aceh Darussalam (1511–1959) and then later as the Daerah Istimewa Aceh (1959–2001), Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam (2001–2009) and Aceh (2009–present). Past spellings of Aceh include Acheh, Atjeh, and Achin.[5]



Bukit Kerang
Mollusca piles in Aceh Tamiang Regency

According to several archaeological findings, the first evidence of human habitation in Aceh is from a site near the Tamiang River where shell middens are present. Stone tools and faunal remains were also found on the site. Archeologists believe the site was first occupied around 10,000 BC.[6]

Pre-Islamic Aceh

Avalokiteshvara head Aceh Srivijaya 1
Head of Avalokiteshvara from Aceh.

Not much has been uncovered about the pre-Islamic history of Aceh, however there are several artifacts that linked pre-Islamic era with Buddhism and Dharmic culture, possibly came from Srivijaya or Indochina region, as well as pre-Islamic Old Malay custom. For example, the discovery of severed head of stone sculpture of Avalokiteshvara Boddhisattva, discovered in Aceh. The images of Amitabha Buddhas are adorned his crown; in front and each sides. Srivijayan art estimated 9th century CE. Collection of National Museum of Indonesia, Jakarta.

Historic names such as Indrapurba, Indrapurwa, Indrapatra, and Indrapuri, which refer to Hindu god Indra, gave some hint of Indian influence on this region. However, unlike Jambi and South Sumatra, there are no significant archaeological sites and findings such as temples, that link this region with Hindu-Buddhist culture.

Beginnings of Islam in Southeast Asia

Map of Pasai, the first Islamic kingdom in South East Asia

Evidence concerning the initial coming and subsequent establishment of Islam in Southeast Asia is thin and inconclusive . The historian Anthony Reid has argued that the region of the Cham people on the south-central coast of Vietnam was one of the earliest Islamic centers in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, as the Cham people fled the Vietnamese, one of the earliest locations that they established a relationship with was Aceh.[7] Furthermore, it is thought that one of the earliest centers of Islam was in the Aceh region. When Venetian traveller Marco Polo passed by Sumatra on his way home from China in 1292 he found that Peureulak was a Muslim town while nearby 'Basma(n)' and 'Samara' were not. 'Basma(n)' and 'Samara' are often said to be Pasai and Samudra but evidence is inconclusive. The gravestone of Sultan Malik as-Salih, the first Muslim ruler of Samudra, has been found and is dated AH 696 (AD 1297). This is the earliest clear evidence of a Muslim dynasty in the Indonesia-Malay area and more gravestones from the thirteenth century show that this region continued under Muslim rule. Ibn Batutah, a Moroccan traveller, passing through on his way to China in 1345 and 1346, found that the ruler of Samudra was a follower of the Shafi'i school of Islam.[8]

The Portuguese apothecary Tome Pires reported in his early 16th-century book Suma Oriental that most of the kings of Sumatra from Aceh through Palembang were Muslim. At Pasai, in what is now the North Aceh Regency, there was a thriving international port. Pires attributed the establishment of Islam in Pasai to the 'cunning' of the Muslim merchants. The ruler of Pasai, however, had not been able to convert the people of the interior.[9]

Sultanate of Aceh

The Sultanate of Aceh was established by Sultan Ali Mughayat Syah in 1511.

In 1584–88 the Bishop of Malacca, D. João Ribeiro Gaio, based on information provided by a former captive called Diogo Gil, wrote the "Roteiro das Cousas do Achem" (Lisboa 1997) – a description of the Sultanate.

Later, during its golden era, in the 17th century, its territory and political influence expanded as far as Satun in southern Thailand, Johor in Malay Peninsula, and Siak in what is today the province of Riau. As was the case with most non-Javan pre-colonial states, Acehnese power expanded outward by sea rather than inland. As it expanded down the Sumatran coast, its main competitors were Johor and Portuguese Malacca on the other side of the Straits of Malacca. It was this seaborne trade focus that saw Aceh rely on rice imports from north Java rather than develop self sufficiency in rice production.[10]

Aceh Sultanate en
Map of Aceh Sultanate during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda

After the Portuguese occupation of Malacca in 1511, many Islamic traders passing the Malacca Straits shifted their trade to Banda Aceh and increased the Acehnese rulers' wealth. During the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda in the 17th century, Aceh's influence extended to most of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Aceh allied itself with the Ottoman Empire and the Dutch East India Company in their struggle against the Portuguese and the Johor Sultanate. Acehnese military power waned gradually thereafter, and Aceh ceded its territory of Pariaman in Sumatra to the Dutch in the 18th century.[11]

By the early nineteenth century, however, Aceh had become an increasingly influential power due to its strategic location for controlling regional trade. In the 1820s it was the producer of over half the world's supply of black pepper. The pepper trade produced new wealth for the Sultanate and for the rulers of many smaller nearby ports that had been under Aceh's control, but were now able to assert more independence. These changes initially threatened Aceh's integrity, but a new sultan Tuanku Ibrahim, who controlled the kingdom from 1838 to 1870, reasserted power over nearby ports.[12]

Under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 the British ceded their colonial possessions on Sumatra to the Dutch. In the treaty, the British described Aceh as one of their possessions, although they had no actual control over the Sultanate. Initially, under the agreement the Dutch agreed to respect Aceh's independence. In 1871, however, the British dropped previous opposition to a Dutch invasion of Aceh, possibly to prevent France or the United States from gaining a foothold in the region. Although neither the Dutch nor the British knew the specifics, there had been rumors since the 1850s that Aceh had been in communication with the rulers of France and of the Ottoman Empire.[12]

Aceh War

Generaal Kohler sneuvelt in de Mesigit
General Köhler, commandant of Dutch troops, died from a shot by an Acehnese sniper during the first attack on Aceh

Pirates operating from Aceh threatened commerce in the Strait of Malacca; the sultan was unable to control them. Britain was a protector of Aceh and gave the Netherlands permission to eradicate the pirates. The campaign quickly drove out the sultan but the local leaders mobilized and fought the Dutch in four decades of guerrilla war, with high levels of atrocities.[13] The Dutch colonial government declared war on Aceh on 26 March 1873. Aceh sought American help but Washington rejected the request.[12]

The Dutch tried one strategy after another over the course of four decades. An expedition under Major General Johan Harmen Rudolf Köhler in 1873 occupied most of the coastal areas. Köhler's strategy was to attack and take the Sultan's palace. It failed. The Dutch then tried a naval blockade, reconciliation, concentration within a line of forts, and lastly passive containment. They had scant success. Reaching 15 to 20 million guilders a year, the heavy spending for failed strategies nearly bankrupted the colonial government.[14]

The Aceh army was rapidly modernized, and Aceh soldiers managed to kill Köhler (a monument to this achievement has been built inside Grand Mosque of Banda Aceh). Köhler made some grave tactical errors and the reputation of the Dutch was severely harmed. In recent years in line with expanding international attention to human rights issues and atrocities in war zones, there has been increasing discussion about some of the recorded acts of cruelty and slaughter committed by Dutch troops during the period of warfare in Aceh.[15]

Hasan Mustafa (1852–1930) was a chief 'penghulu,' or judge, for the colonial government and was stationed in Aceh. He had to balance traditional Muslim justice with Dutch law. To stop the Aceh rebellion, Hasan Mustafa issued a fatwa, telling the Muslims there in 1894, "It is Incumbent upon the Indonesian Muslims to be loyal to the Dutch East Indies Government".[16]

Japanese occupation

During World War II, Japanese troops occupied Aceh. The Acehnese Ulama (Islamic clerics) fought against both the Dutch and the Japanese, revolting against the Dutch in February 1942 and against Japan in November 1942. The revolt was led by the All-Aceh Religious Scholars' Association (PUSA). The Japanese suffered 18 dead in the uprising while they slaughtered up to 100 or over 120 Acehnese.[17][18] The revolt happened in Bayu and was centered around Tjot Plieng village's religious school.[19][20][21][22] During the revolt, the Japanese troops armed with mortars and machine guns were charged by sword wielding Acehnese under Teungku Abduldjalil (Tengku Abdul Djalil) in Buloh Gampong Teungah and Tjot Plieng on 10 and 13 November.[23][24][25][26][27][28][29] On May 1945 the Acehnese rebelled again.[30] The religious ulama party gained ascendancy to replace district warlords (uleebalang) party that formerly collaborated with the Dutch. Concrete bunkers still line the northernmost beaches.

Indonesian independence

Teuku Daud Beureueh
Teungku Daud Beureu'eh, 3rd Governor of Aceh and the regional leader of Darul Islam in Aceh

After World War II, civil war erupted in 1945 between the district warlords party, that supported the return of a Dutch government, and the religious ulama party that supported the newly proclaimed state of Indonesia. The ulama won, and the area remained free during Indonesian War of Independence. The Dutch military itself never attempted to invade Aceh. The civil war raised the religious ulama party leader, Daud Bereueh, to the position of military governor of Aceh.[31][32]

Acehnese rebellion

The Acehnese revolted soon after its inclusion into an independent Indonesia, a situation created by a complex mix of what the Acehnese regarded as transgressions against and betrayals of their rights.

Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia, had reneged on his promise made on 16 June 1948 that Aceh would be allowed to rule itself in accordance with its religious values which had been in place for centuries. Aceh was politically dismantled and incorporated into the province of North Sumatra in 1950. This resulted in the Acehnese Rebellion of 1953–59 which was led by Daud Beureu'eh who on 20 September 1953 declared a free independent Aceh under the leadership of Sekarmadji Maridjan Kartosoewirjo. In 1959, the Indonesian government attempted to placate the Acehnese by offering wide-ranging freedom in matters relating to religion, education and culture.

Free Aceh Movement

Free Aceh Movement women soldiers
Women soldiers of the Free Aceh Movement with GAM commander Abdullah Syafei'i, 1999

During the 1970s, under an agreement with the Indonesian central government, American oil and gas companies began exploitation of Aceh natural resources. Alleged unequal distribution of profits between central government and the native people of Aceh induced Dr. Hasan Muhammad di Tiro, former ambassador of Darul Islam,[31] to call for an independent Aceh. He proclaimed independence in 1976.

The movement had a small number of followers initially, and Dr. Hasan Muhammad di Tiro himself had to live in exile in Sweden. Meanwhile, the province followed Suharto's policy of economic development and industrialization. During the late 1980s several security incidents prompted the Indonesian central government to take repressive measures and to send troops to Aceh. Human rights abuse was rampant for the next decade, resulting in many grievances on the part of the Acehnese toward the Indonesian central government. In 1990, the Indonesian government initiated military operations against GAM by deploying more than 12.000 Indonesian army in the region.

During the late 1990s, chaos in Java and an ineffective central government gave an advantage to the Free Aceh Movement and resulted in the second phase of the rebellion, this time with large support from the Acehnese people. This support was demonstrated during the 1999 plebiscite in Banda Aceh which was attended by nearly half a million people (of four million population of the province). Indonesian central government responded in 2001 by broadening Aceh's autonomy, giving its government the right to apply Sharia law more broadly and the right to receive direct foreign investment. This was again accompanied by repressive measures, however, and in 2003 an offensive began and a state of emergency was proclaimed in the Province. The war was still going on when the tsunami disaster of 2004 struck the province.

Exxon Mobil human rights abuse lawsuit

On 21 June 2001, eleven villagers from an Acehnese village in the North Aceh Regency used the Alien Tort Claims Act to sue Exxon Mobil in United States federal court for human rights abuses at the Arun natural gas field. The villagers claim they were tortured, raped, or murdered by soldiers from the Indonesian military. They claimed that Exxon Mobil created barracks to be used for torture of detainees and gave the Indonesian military unit which guarded the Exxon-Mobil natural gas field heavy equipment to cover mass burials after a clash with separatists.[33] Exxon Mobil reportedly shut down the site because of escalating violence. The villagers need to reveal their identities in order to receive Indonesian government protection, but are reluctant to do so for fear of reprisals from the Indonesian military.

Tsunami disaster

US Navy 050102-N-9593M-040 A village near the coast of Sumatra lays in ruin after the Tsunami that struck South East Asia
Aftermath of the tsunami in Aceh

The western coastal areas of Aceh, including the cities of Banda Aceh, Calang, and Meulaboh, were among the areas hardest-hit by the tsunami resulting from the magnitude 9.2 Indian Ocean earthquake on 26 December 2004.[34] While estimates vary, over 170,000 people were killed by tsunami in Aceh and about 500,000 were left homeless. The tragedy of the tsunami was further compounded several months later, when the 2005 M8.6 Nias–Simeulue earthquake struck the sea bed between the islands of Simeulue Island in Aceh and Nias in North Sumatra. This second quake killed a further 1346 people on Nias and Simeulue, displaced tens of thousands more, and caused the tsunami response to be expanded to include Nias. the World Health Organisation estimates a 100% increase in prevalence of mild and moderate mental disorders in Aceh's general population after the tsunami.[35]

The population of Aceh before the December 2004 tsunami was 4,271,000 (2004). The population as of 15 September 2005 was 4,031,589, and at January 2014 was 4,731,705.[36]

As of February 2006, more than a year after the tsunami, a large number of people were still living in barrack-style temporary living centers (TLC) or tents. Reconstruction was visible everywhere, but due to the sheer scale of the disaster, and logistic difficulties, progress was slow. A study in 2007 estimates 83.6% of the population has psychiatric illness, while 69.8% suffers from severe emotional distress.[37]

The ramifications of the tsunami went beyond the immediate impact to the lives and infrastructure of the Acehnese living on the coast. Since the disaster, the Acehnese rebel movement GAM, which had been fighting for independence against the Indonesian authorities for 29 years, has signed a peace deal (15 August 2005). The perception that the tsunami was punishment for insufficient piety in this proudly Muslim province is partly behind the increased emphasis on the importance of religion post-tsunami. This has been most obvious in the increased implementation of Sharia law, including the introduction of the controversial 'WH' or Syariah police. As homes are being built and people's basic needs are met, the people are also looking to improve the quality of education, increase tourism, and develop responsible, sustainable industry. Well-qualified educators are in high demand in Aceh.

US Navy 050101-O-XXXXB-054 Boats washed ashore near local businesses in down town Aceh, Sumatra following a massive Tsunami that struck the area on the 26th of December 2004
Boats washed ashore near local businesses in down town Aceh, Sumatra following a massive tsunami that struck the area on 26 December 2004

While parts of the capital Banda Aceh were unscathed, the areas closest to the water, especially the areas of Kampung Jawa and Meuraxa, were completely destroyed. Most of the rest of the western coast of Aceh was severely damaged. Many towns completely disappeared. Other towns on Aceh's west coast hit by the disaster included Lhoknga, Leupung, Lamno, Patek, Calang, Teunom, and the island of Simeulu. Affected or destroyed towns on the region's north & east coast were Pidie Regency, Samalanga, and Lhokseumawe.

The area was slowly rebuilt after the disaster. The government initially proposed the creation of a two-kilometer buffer zone along low-lying coastal areas within which permanent construction was not permitted. This proposal was unpopular among some local inhabitants and proved impractical in most situations, especially fishing families that are dependent on living near to the sea.

The Indonesian government set up a special agency for Aceh reconstruction, the Badan Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstruksi (BRR) headed by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, a former Indonesian Minister. This agency had ministry level of authority and incorporated officials, professionals and community leaders from all backgrounds. Most of the reconstruction work was performed by local people using a mix of traditional methods and partial prefabricated structures, with funding coming from many international organizations and individuals, governments, and the people themselves.

The Government of Indonesia estimated in their Preliminary Damage and Losses Assessment[38] that damages amounted to US$4.5 billion (before inflation, and US$6.2 billion including inflation). Three years after the tsunami, reconstruction was still ongoing. The World Bank monitored funding for reconstruction in Aceh and reported that US$7.7 billion had been earmarked for the reconstruction whilst at June 2007 US$5.8 billion had been allocated to specific reconstruction projects, of which US$3.4 billion had actually been spent (58%).

In 2009, the government opened a US$5.6 million museum to commemorate the tsunami with photographs, stories, and a simulation of the earthquake that triggered the tsunami.[39]

Peace agreement and contemporary history

Martti Ahtisaari
Martti Ahtisaari, facilitator in Aceh-Indonesia peace agreement

The 2004 tsunami helped trigger a peace agreement between the GAM and the Indonesian government. The mood in post-Suharto Indonesia in the liberal-democratic reform period, as well as changes in the Indonesian military, helped create an environment more favorable to peace talks. The roles of newly elected president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and vice president Jusuf Kalla were highly significant.[40] At the same time, the GAM leadership was undergoing changes, and the Indonesian military had inflicted so much damage on the rebel movement that it had little choice but to negotiate with the central government.[41] The peace talks were first initiated Juha Christensen, a Finnish peace activist, and then formally facilitated by a Finland-based NGO, the Crisis Management Initiative led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. The resulting peace agreement, generally known as the Helsinki MOU, was signed on 15 August 2005. Under the agreement Aceh would receive special autonomy and government troops would be withdrawn from the province in exchange for GAM's disarmament. As part of the agreement, the European Union dispatched 300 monitors. Their mission expired on 15 December 2006, following local elections.

Aceh has been granted broader autonomy through Aceh Government Legislation covering special rights agreed upon in 2002 as well as the right of the Acehnese to establish local political parties to represent their interests.[42] Human rights advocates protested that previous human rights violations in the province needed to be addressed, however.[43]

During elections for the provincial governor held in December 2006, the former GAM and national parties participated. The election was won by Irwandi Yusuf, whose base of support consisted largely of ex-GAM members. In 2016, a research showed that the majority of Aceh ethnic peoples continue to be in favor of the re-establishment of the sultanate, along with full independence from Indonesia. The research was blocked heavily by the Indonesian government; sending in troops to secure its control over Aceh. In 2018, Aceh has been branded as the most homophobic territory per square kilometer in all of Asia due to homophobic laws passed by the Aceh government. Due to this, it became the center of inhumane and discriminatory policies in the entire Asian diaspora.[44]

Ecology and biodiversity

Aceh has the largest range of biodiversity in the Asian Pacific region.[45] Among the rarer large mammals are the Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran tiger, Orangutan and Sumatran elephant.[45] In 2014, there were 460 Sumatran elephants in Aceh including at least eight baby elephants.[46] The area has been suffering from deforestation since the 1970s.[47] The first wood pulp mill in Aceh was built in 1982.[48] The government of Aceh intends a law by which 1.2 million hectares would be opened for commercial use.[49] This proposal has caused many protests.[49]


Within the country, Aceh is governed not as a province but as a special territory (daerah istimewa), an administrative designation intended to give the area increased autonomy from the central government in Jakarta.

Regional elections have been held in Aceh in recent years for senior positions at the provincial, regency (kabupaten) and district (kecamatan) levels. In the 2006 elections, Irwandi Yusuf was elected as the provincial governor for 2007–2012 and in elections in April 2012, Zaini Abdullah was elected as governor for 2012–2017.


# Governor Took office Left office Political party Vice-governor Notes
1 Teuku Nyak Arif October 3, 1945 1946 None None as Resident of Aceh
2 Teuku Daud Syah 1947 1948 as Governor of Aceh Darussalam
3 Teungku Daud Beureu'eh 1948 1952
4 Teuku Sulaiman Daud 1952 1953
5 Abdul Wahab 1953 1955
6 Abdul Razak 1955 1956
7 Ali Hasyimi 1957 1964 as Governor of Special Region of Aceh
8 Nyak Adam Kamil 1964 1966
9 Asbi Wahidi 1966 1967
10 Abdullah Muzakir Walad 1967 1978
11 Abdul Madjid Ibrahim 1978 1981 Died in office
12 Eddy Sabara 1981 1981 Acting governor
13 Hadi Thayeb 1981 1986 as Governor of Special Region of Aceh
14 Ibrahim Hassan 1986 1993
15 Syamsudin Mahmud 1993 June 21, 2000 Ramli Ridwan Left office before 2nd term ends
16 Ramli Ridwan June 21, 2000 November 2000 None Acting governor
17 Abdullah Puteh November 2000 July 19, 2004 Golkar Azwar Abubakar as Governor of Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam
18 Azwar Abubakar July 19, 2004 December 30, 2005 PAN None Acting governor
19 Mustafa Abubakar December 30, 2005 Februari 8, 2007 Independent Interim governor
20 Irwandi Yusuf Februari 8, 2007 Februari 8, 2012 PNA Muhammad Nazar as Governor of Aceh; 1st term
21 Tarmizi Abdul Karim Februari 8, 2012 June 25, 2012 Independent None Acting governor
22 Zaini Abdullah June 25, 2012 July 5, 2017 PA Muzakir Manaf
23 Irwandi Yusuf July 5, 2017 Incumbent PNA Nova Iriansyah 2nd term


Use of sharia in Southeast Asia
Use of sharia in Southeast Asia:
  Choice between sharia and secular courts, only on personal status issues
  Sharia applies in personal status issues only
  Sharia applies in full, including criminal law

Beginning with the promulgation of Law 44/1999, Aceh's governor began to issue limited Sharia-based regulations, for example requiring female government employees to wear Islamic dress. These regulations were not enforced by the provincial government, but as early as April 1999, reports emerged that groups of men in Aceh were engaging in vigilante violence in an effort to impose Sharia, for example, by conducting "jilbab raids," subjecting women who were not wearing Islamic headscarves to verbal abuse, cutting their hair or clothes, and committing other acts of violence against them.[50] The frequency of these and other attacks on individuals considered to be violating Sharia principles appeared to increase following the enactment of Law 44/1999 and the governor's Sharia regulations.[50] In 2014, a group of scholars who call themselves Tadzkiiratul Ummah, started to paint the pants of men and women as a call for heavier Islamic law enforcement in the area.[51]

Upon the enactment of the Special Autonomy Law in 2001, Aceh's provincial legislature enacted a series of qanuns (local laws) governing the implementation of Sharia. Five qanuns enacted between 2002 and 2004 contained criminal penalties for violations of Sharia: Qanun 11/2002 on "belief, ritual, and promoting Islam," which contains the Islamic attire requirement; Qanun 12/2003 prohibiting the consumption and sale of alcohol; Qanun 13/2003 prohibiting gambling; Qanun 14 /2003 prohibiting "seclusion"; and Qanun 7/2004 on the payment of Islamic alms. With the exception of gambling, none of the offenses are prohibited outside of Aceh.[50]

Responsibility for enforcement of the qanuns rests both with the National Police and with a special Sharia police force unique to Aceh, known as the Wilayatul Hisbah (Sharia Authority). All of the qanuns provide for penalties including fines, imprisonment, and caning, the latter a punishment unknown in most parts of Indonesia. Between mid-2005 and early 2007, at least 135 people were caned in Aceh for transgressing the qanuns.[50] In April 2016, a 60-year-old non-Muslim woman was sentenced to 30 lashes for selling alcohol drinks. The controversy is that qanun is not allowed for non-Muslim person, and national law should be used instead as in other parts of Indonesia.[52]

In April 2009, Partai Aceh won control of the local parliament in Aceh's first post-war legislative elections. In September 2009, one month before the new legislators were to take office, the outgoing parliament unanimously endorsed two new qanuns to expand the existing criminal Sharia framework in Aceh.

  • One bill, the Qanun on Criminal Procedure (Qanun Hukum Jinayat), to create an entirely new procedural code for the enforcement of Sharia by police, prosecutors, and courts in Aceh.[50]
  • The other bill, the Qanun on Criminal Law (Qanun Jinayat), reiterated the existing criminal Sharia prohibitions, at times enhancing their penalties, and a host of new criminal offenses, including ikhtilat (intimacy or mixing), zina (adultery, defined as willing intercourse by unmarried people), sexual harassment, rape, and homosexual conduct.[53] The law authorized punishments including up to 60 lashes for "intimacy," up to 100 lashes for engaging in homosexual conduct, up to 100 lashes for adultery by unmarried persons, and death by stoning for adultery by a married person.[50]


In practice since the introduction of the new laws, there has been a considerable increase in the use of the penalties provided set out in the laws. As an example, in August 2015 six men in Bireun regency were arrested and caned for betting on the names of passing buses.[54] And it was reported that on just one day, 18 September 2015, a total of 34 people were caned in Banda Aceh and in the nearby regency of Aceh Besar.[55]

Two gay men are to be publicly lashed 85 times each under sharia law after being filmed by vigilantes in Indonesia. An Islamic court in the province of Aceh passed down its first sentence for homosexuality on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, 17 May 2017 in spite of international appeals to spare the couple.[56]

Administrative divisions

Aceh Regencies
Regencies of Aceh

Administratively, the province is subdivided into eighteen regencies (kabupaten) and five autonomous cities (kota). The capital and the largest city is Banda Aceh, located on the coast near the northern tip of Sumatra. Some local areas are pushing to create new autonomous areas, usually with the stated goal of enhancing local control over politics and development.

The cities and regencies (subdivided into the districts of Aceh), are listed below with their populations at the 2010 Census[57] and according to the latest estimates for January 2014.[36]

Name Capital Est. Establish
by statute
Area (in km²) Population
2010 Census
2014 estimates
2014 Estimates
Banda Aceh City 1956 UU 24/1956 61.36 223,446 235,245 0.822 (Very High)
Langsa City 2001 UU 3/2001 262.41 148,945 156,809 0.738 (High)
Lhokseumawe City 2001 UU 2/2001 181.06 171,163 180,200 0.744 (High)
Sabang City 1967 153.00 30,653 32,271 0.715 (High)
Subulussalam City 2007 UU 8/2007 1,391.00 67,446 71,007 0.604 (Medium)
Aceh Besar Regency Jantho 1956 UU 24/1956 2,969.00 351,418 369,972 0.711 (High)
Aceh Jaya Regency Calang 2002 UU 4/2002 3,812.99 76,782 80,836 0.673 (Medium)
Aceh Singkil Regency
(including the Banyak Islands)
Singkil 1999 UU 14/1999 2,185.00 102,509 107,921 0.653 (Medium)
Aceh Tamiang Regency Karang Baru 2002 UU 4/2002 1,956.72 251,914 265,215 0.661 (Medium)
Bener Meriah Regency Simpang Tiga Redelong 2003 UU 41/2003 1,454.09 122,277 128,733 0.700 (High)
Bireuen Regency Bireuen 1999 UU 48/1999 1,901.20 389,288 409,842 0.687 (Medium)
Central Aceh Regency
(Aceh Tengah)
Takengon 1956 UU 24/1956 4,318.39 175,527 184,794 0.701 (High)
East Aceh Regency
(Aceh Timur)
Idi Rayeuk 1956 UU 24/1956 6,286.01 360,475 379,507 0.636 (Medium)
Gayo Lues Regency Blangkejeren 2002 UU 4/2002 5,719.58 79,560 83,761 0.633 (Medium)
Nagan Raya Regency Suka Makmue 2002 UU 4/2002 3,363.72 139,663 147,037 0.656 (Medium)
North Aceh Regency
(Aceh Utara)
Lhoksukon 1956 UU 24/1956 3,236.86 529,751 557,721 0.659 (Medium)
Pidie Regency Sigli 1956 UU 24/1956 3,086.95 379,108 399,124 0.679 (Medium)
Pidie Jaya Regency Meureudu 2007 UU 7/2007 1,073.60 132,956 139,976 0.699 (Medium)
Simeulue Regency Sinabang 1999 UU 48/1999 2,051.48 80,674 84,933 0.622 (Medium)
Southeast Aceh Regency
(Aceh Tenggara)
Kutacane 1974 UU 7/1974 4,231.43 179,010 188,461 0.659 (Medium)
South Aceh Regency
(Aceh Selatan)
Tapaktuan 1956 UU 24/1956 3,841.60 202,251 212,929 0.624 (Medium)
Southwest Aceh Regency
(Aceh Barat Daya)
Blangpidie 2002 UU 4/2002 1,490.60 126,036 132,690 0.631 (Medium)
West Aceh Regency
(Aceh Barat)
Meulaboh 1956 UU 24/1956 2,927.95 173,558 182,721 0.673 (Medium)

Note: UU is an abbreviation from Undang-Undang (the Indonesia statute of law).


In 2006, the economy of Aceh grew by 7.7% after having minimal growth since the devastating tsunami.[59] This growth was primarily driven by the reconstruction effort with massive growth in the building/construction sector.

The ending of the conflict, and the reconstruction program resulted in the structure of the economy changing significantly since 2003. Service sectors played a more dominant role whilst the share of the oil and gas sectors continued to decline.

Sector (% share of Aceh GDP) 2003 2004 2005 2006
Agriculture and fisheries 17 20 21 21
Oil, gas and mining 36 30 26 25
Manufacturing (incl oil and gas manufact) 20 18 16 14
Electricity and water supply ...
Building / Construction 3 4 4 5
Trade, hotels and restaurants 11 12 14 15
Transport & Communication 3 4 5 5
Banking & other Financial 1 1 1 1
Services 8 10 13 13
Total 100 100 100 100

Note: ... = less than 0.5%

After peaking at around 40% in December 2005, largely as a result of the Dutch disease impact of sudden aid flows into the province, inflation declined steadily and was 8.5% in June 2007, close to the national level in Indonesia of 5.7%. Persistent inflation means that Aceh's consumer price index (CPI) remains the highest in Indonesia. As a result, Aceh's cost competitiveness has declined as reflected in both inflation and wage data. Although inflation has slowed down, CPI has registered steady increases since the tsunami. Using 2002 as a base, Aceh's CPI increased to 185.6 (June 2007) while the national CPI increased to 148.2. There have been relatively large nominal wage increases in particular sectors, such as construction where, on average, workers' nominal wages have risen to almost Rp.60,000 per day, from Rp.29,000 pre-tsunami. This is also reflected in Aceh's minimum regional wage (UMR, or Upah Minimum Regional), which increased by 55% from Rp.550,000 pre-tsunami to Rp.850,000 in 2007, compared with an increase of 42% in neighboring North Sumatra, from Rp.537,000 to Rp.761,000.

Poverty levels increased slightly in Aceh in 2005 after the tsunami, but by less than expected.[60] The poverty level then fell in 2006 to below the pre-tsunami level, suggesting that the rise in tsunami-related poverty was short lived and reconstruction activities and the end of the conflict most probably facilitated this decline. However, poverty in Aceh remains significantly higher than in the rest of Indonesia.[61] A large number of the Acehnese remain vulnerable to poverty, reinforcing the need for further sustained efforts at development in the post-tsunami construction period.[62]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1971 2,008,595—    
1980 2,611,271+2.96%
1990 3,416,156+2.72%
1995 3,847,583+2.41%
2000 3,930,905+0.43%
2010 4,494,410+1.35%
2014 4,731,705+1.29%
Source: Badan Pusat Statistik 2010, Kementerian Kesehatan Estimasi 2014[36]

The population of Aceh was not adequately documented during the Indonesia 2000 census because the insurgency complicated the process of collecting accurate information. An estimated 170,000 people died in Aceh in the 2004 tsunami which further complicates the task of careful demographic analysis. According to the most recent (2010) census, the total population of Aceh in 2010 was 4,486,570.[63]

Ethnic and cultural groups

Aceh is a diverse region occupied by several ethnic and language groups. The major ethnic groups are the Acehnese (who are distributed throughout Aceh), Gayo (in central and eastern part), Alas (in Southeast Aceh Regency), Tamiang-Malays (in Aceh Tamiang Regency), Aneuk Jamee (descendant from Minangkabau, concentrated in southern and southwestern), Kluet (in South Aceh Regency), and Simeulue (on Simeulue Island). There is also a significant population of Chinese, Among the present day Acehnese can be found some individuals of Arab, Turkish, and Indian descent.

The Acehnese language is widely spoken within the Acehnese population. This is a member of the Aceh-Chamic group of languages, whose other representatives are mostly found in Vietnam and Cambodia, and is also closely related to the Malay group of languages. Acehnese also has many words borrowed from Malay and Arabic and traditionally was written using Arabic script. Acehnese is also used as local language in Langkat and Asahan (North Sumatra), and Kedah (Malaysia), and once dominated Penang. Alas and Kluet are closely related languages within the Batak group. The Jamee language originated from Minangkabau language in West Sumatra, with just a few variations and differences.


According to 2010 census of the Central Statistics Agency, Muslims dominate Aceh with more than 98% or 4,413,200 followers and only 50,300 Protestants and 3,310 Catholics.[65] Religious issues are often sensitive in Aceh. There is very strong support for Islam across the province, and sometimes other religious groups – such as Christians or Buddhists – feel that they are subject to social or community pressure to limit their activities. The official explanation for this action, supported by both the Governor of Aceh Zaini Abdullah and the Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi from Jakarta, was that the churches did not have the appropriate permits. Earlier in April 2012, a number of churches in the Singkil regency in southern Aceh had also been ordered to close.[66] In response, some Christians voiced concern about these actions. In 2015 a church was burned down and another attacked in which a Muslim rioter was shot, causing president Joko Widodo to call for calm.[67]

Human rights violations

Caning, a primitive and discriminatory way of punishment, has increasingly been used as a form of judicial punishment in Aceh. This is backed by the governor of Aceh. At least 72 people were caned for various offences, including drinking alcohol, being alone with someone of the opposite sex who was not a marriage partner or relative (khalwat), gambling and for being caught having gay sex.[68] The Acehnese authorities passed a series of by-laws governing the implementation of Sharia after the enactment of the province’s Special Autonomy Law in 2001. In 2016 alone, 339 public caning cases were documented by human rights organizations.

In January 2018, the Aceh police, with support from the Aceh autonomous government, raided hair salons known to have LGBT clients and staff as part of an operasi penyakit masyarakat ("community sickness operation"). The police abused all LGBT citizens within the premises of the parlors and arrested twelve transgender women. The arrested trans women were stripped topless, had their heads shaved, and were forced to chant insults at themselves as part of a process "until they really become men". The intent of the incident was to reverse what officials deemed a "social disease" and that parents were coming to them upset at the increasing number of LGBT individuals in Aceh.[69][70] The event was decried by human rights organizations local and worldwide, such as Amnesty International. Usman Hamid stated for the Indonesia branch of the organization that "cutting the hair of those arrested to ‘make them masculine’ and forcing them to dress like men are forms of public shaming and amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in contravention of Indonesia’s international obligations.”[71]

See also


  1. ^ "Statistik Indonesia 2018". Badan Pusat Statistik. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  2. ^ Aris Ananta; Evi Nurvidya Arifin; M. Sairi Hasbullah; Nur Budi Handayani; dan Agus Pramono (2015). Demography of Indonesia's Ethnicity. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies dan BPS – Statistics Indonesia.
  3. ^ How An Escape Artist Became Aceh's Governor, Time Magazine, 15 February 2007
  4. ^ United Nations. Economic and social survey of Asia and the Pacific 2005. 2005, page 172
  5. ^ "Direktorat Jenderal Perimbangan Keuangan | Perubahan Sebutan Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam menjadi Aceh". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2018-08-31.
  6. ^ Daniel Perret (24 February 2007). "Aceh as a Field for Ancient History Studies" (PDF). Asia Research Institute-National University of Singapore. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  7. ^ Reid (1988 and 1993)
  8. ^ Ricklefs (1991), page 4
  9. ^ Ricklefs (1991), page 7
  10. ^ Ricklefs (1991), page 17
  11. ^ *D. G. E. Hall, A History of South-east Asia. London: Macmillan, 1955.
  12. ^ a b c Ricklefs, M.C. (2001) A history of modern Indonesia since c.1200. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p 185–188.
  13. ^ Nicholas Tarling, ed. (1992). The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia: Volume 2, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Cambridge U.P. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-521-35506-3.
  14. ^ E.H. Kossmann, The Low Countries 1780–1940 (1978) pp 400–401
  15. ^ Linawati Sidarto, 'Images of a grisly past', The Jakarta Post: Weekender, July 2011 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Mufti Ali, "A Study of Hasan Mustafa's 'Fatwa: 'It Is Incumbent upon the Indonesian Muslims to be Loyal to the Dutch East Indies Government,'" Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, April 2004, Vol. 52 Issue 2, pp 91–122
  17. ^ John Martinkus (2004). Indonesia's Secret War in Aceh. Random House Australia. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-74051-209-1.
  18. ^ Merle Calvin Ricklefs (2001). A History of Modern Indonesia Since C. 1200. Stanford University Press. p. 252. ISBN 978-0-8047-4480-5.
  19. ^ Tempo: Indonesia's Weekly News Magazine. 43–52. 3. Arsa Raya Perdana. 2003. p. 27.
  20. ^ atjehcyberID. "Sejarah Jejak Perlawanan Aceh". ATJEH CYBER WARRIOR. Archived from the original on 27 April 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Waspada, Sabtu 17 Maret 2012". Issuu. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Waspada, Sabtu 17 Maret 2012". Issuu. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  23. ^ Berita Kadjian Sumatera: Sumatra Research Bulletin. 1–4. Dewan Penjelidikan Sumatera. 1971. p. 35.
  24. ^ Abdul Haris Nasution (1963). Tentara Nasional Indonesia. Ganaco. p. 89.
  25. ^ Sedjarah Iahirnja Tentara Nasional Indonesia. Sedjarah Militer Dam II/BB. 1970. p. 12.
  26. ^ Indonesia. Panitia Penjusun Naskah Buku "20 Tahun Indonesia Merdeka."; Indonesia. 20 [i. e Dua puluh] tahun Indonesia merdeka. 7. Departement Penerangan. p. 547.
  27. ^ Indonesia. Angkatan Darat. Pusat Sedjarah Militer (1965). Sedjarah TNI-Angkatan Darat, 1945-1965. [Tjet. 1.]. PUSSEMAD. p. 8.
  28. ^ Indonesia. Departemen Penerangan. 20 tahun Indonesia merdeka. 7. Departemen Penerangan R.I. p. 545.
  29. ^ Atjeh Post, Minggu Ke III September 1990. halaman I & Atjeh Post, Minggu Ke IV September 1990 halaman I
  30. ^ Louis Jong (2002). The collapse of a colonial society: the Dutch in Indonesia during the Second World War. KITLV Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-90-6718-203-4.
  31. ^ a b *M Nur El-Ibrahimy, Peranan Teungku M. Daud Bereueh dalam Pergolakan di Aceh, 2001.
  32. ^ *A.H. Nasution, Seputar Perang Kemerdekaan Indonesia, Jilid II, 1977
  33. ^ Banerjee, Neela (2001-06-21). "Lawsuit Says Exxon Aided Rights Abuses". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  34. ^ For details of the impact of the tsunami in Aceh, see Jayasuriya, Sisira and Peter McCawley in collaboration with Bhanupong Nidhiprabha, Budy P. Resosudarmo and Dushni Weerakoon, The Asian Tsunami: Aid and Reconstruction after a Disaster, Cheltenham UK and Northampton MA USA: Edward Elgar and Asian Development Bank Institute, 2010.
  35. ^ Wise, Cat (2011). "Tsunami-Devastated Aceh, an Epicenter of Mental Health Woes". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  36. ^ a b c Estimasi Penduduk Menurut Umur Tunggal Dan Jenis Kelamin 2014 Kementerian Kesehatan
  37. ^ Souza, R., Bernatsky, S., Ryes, R., Jong, K. (2007). "Mental Health Status of Vulnerable Tsunami-Affected Communities: A Survey in Aceh Province, Indonesia". Journal of Traumatic Stress. 20(3), 263–269
  38. ^ Stefan G. Koeberle. "Preliminary Damage and Losses Assessment on". Retrieved 2013-07-13.
  39. ^ "Indonesia Opens Tsunami Museum". The Irrawaddy. March–April 2009: 3.
  40. ^ A very useful and detailed account of the negotiation process from the Indonesian side is in the book by the Indonesian key negotiator, Hamid Awaludin, Peace in Aceh: Notes on the peace process between the Republic of Indonesia and the Aceh Freedom Movement (GAM) in Helsinki, translated by Tim Scott, 2009, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta. ISBN 978-979-1295-11-6.
  41. ^ "Asia Times Online :: Southeast Asia news – A happy, peaceful anniversary in Aceh". 2006-08-15. Retrieved 2013-07-13.
  42. ^ Hillman, Ben (2012). "'Power Sharing and Political Party Engineering in Conflict-Prone Societies: The Indonesian Experiment in Aceh". Conflict Security and Development. 12 (2): 149–169. doi:10.1080/14678802.2012.688291.
  43. ^ Author(s): Veena Siddharth, Asia advocacy director (2005-08-27). "Next steps for Aceh after the peace pact | Human Rights Watch". Retrieved 2013-07-13.
  44. ^ "Indonesia is set to ban gay sex". 31 January 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  45. ^ a b Simanjuntak, Hotli; Sangaji, Ruslan (20 May 2013). "Scientists urged to stand up for Aceh's biodiversity". The Jakarta Post.
  46. ^ "Gajah Sumatera Hanya Tersisa 460 Ekor di Aceh". 19 August 2014.
  47. ^ McGregor, Andrew (2010). "Green and REDD? Towards a Political Ecology of Deforestation in Aceh, Indonesia". Human Geography. 3 (2): 21–34.
  48. ^ "Aceh: ecological war zone". Down to Earth (47). 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012.
  49. ^ a b The Jakarta Post. "Global calls to save Aceh forest". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  50. ^ a b c d e f "Policing Morality Abuses in the Application of Sharia in Aceh, Indonesia". Human Rights Watch. 2010. pp. 13–17. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  51. ^ Edi Sumardi (December 4, 2014). "Ini Hukuman Bagi Wanita Berpakaian Ketat, Celananya Disemprot Cat".
  52. ^ Rachmadin Ismail (April 14, 2016). "Hukuman Cambuk Pertama Terhadap Non Muslim di Aceh Jadi Sorotan".
  53. ^ Hotli Simanjuntak and Ina Parlina, 'Aceh fully enforces Sharia', The Jakarta Post, 7 February 2014.
  54. ^ 'Six men caned for betting on passing buses in Aceh', The Jakarta Post, 27 August 2015.
  55. ^ Hotli Simanjuntak, 'Dozens of sharia vilators caned in Aceh', The Jakarta Post, 19 September 2015.
  56. ^ Lizzie Dearden (17 May 2017). "Sharia court in Indonesia sentences two gay men to 85 lashes each after being caught having sex".
  57. ^ Biro Pusat Statistik, Jakarta, 2011.
  58. ^ Indeks-Pembangunan-Manusia-2014
  59. ^ World Bank, Jakarta, Aceh Economic Update November 2007.
  60. ^ World Bank, Jakarta, Aceh Poverty Assessment 2008.
  61. ^ A useful survey of the state of development up to 2010 is in the UNDP Provincial Human Development Report Aceh 2010.
  62. ^ Edward Aspinall, Ben Hillman, and Peter McCawley, Governance and capacity-building in post-crisis Aceh', a report by Australian National University Enterprise, Canberra, for UNDP, Jakarta, 2012.
  63. ^ "Waspada Online". Waspada Online. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  64. ^ "Population by Region and Religion in Indonesia". BPS. 2010.
  65. ^ "Regent orders churches closed, destroyed in Aceh". Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  66. ^ Bagus BT Saragih, 'Closed churches lack permits: Gamawan' Archived 26 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, The Jakarta Pose, 25 October 2012.
  67. ^ "Jokowi calls for calm amid clashes in Aceh". Channel NewsAsia. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  68. ^
  69. ^ Indonesian, B. B. C. (2018). "Indonesia police cut trans women's hair". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  70. ^ "Police arrest 12 trans women and shave their heads 'to make them men'". PinkNews. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  71. ^ "Rights groups decry 'shaming' of transgender people in Indonesia's..." Reuters. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-09.


Further reading

  • Bowen, J. R. (1991). Sumatran politics and poetics : Gayo history, 1900–1989. New Haven, Yale University Press.
  • Bowen, J. R. (2003). Islam, Law, and Equality in Indonesia Cambridge University Press
  • Iwabuchi, A. (1994). The people of the Alas Valley : a study of an ethnic group of Northern Sumatra. Oxford, England; New York, Clarendon Press.
  • McCarthy, J. F. (2006). The Fourth Circle. A Political Ecology of Sumatra's Rainforest Frontier, Stanford University Press.
  • Miller, Michelle Ann. (2009). Rebellion and Reform in Indonesia. Jakarta's Security and Autonomy Policies in Aceh. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-45467-4
  • Miller, Michelle Ann, ed. (2012). Autonomy and Armed Separatism in South and Southeast Asia (Singapore: ISEAS).
  • Siegel, James T. 2000. The rope of God. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-08682-0; A classic ethnographic and historical study of Aceh, and Islam in the region. Originally published in 1969

External links

2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, officially called Sumatra–Andaman earthquake, occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on 26 December, with an epicentre off the west coast of northern Sumatra. It was an undersea megathrust earthquake that registered a magnitude of 9.1–9.3 Mw, reaching a Mercalli intensity up to IX in certain areas. The earthquake was caused by a rupture along the fault between the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate.

A series of large tsunamis up to 30 metres (100 ft) high were created by the underwater seismic activity that became known collectively as the Boxing Day tsunamis. Communities along the surrounding coasts of the Indian Ocean were seriously affected, and the tsunamis killed an estimated 227,898 people in 14 countries. The Indonesian city of Banda Aceh reported the largest number of victims. The earthquake was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. The direct results caused major disruptions to living conditions and commerce particularly in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

The earthquake was the third largest ever recorded and had the longest duration of faulting ever observed; between eight and ten minutes. It caused the planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimetre (0.4 inches), and it remotely triggered earthquakes as far away as Alaska. Its epicentre was between Simeulue and mainland Sumatra. The plight of the affected people and countries prompted a worldwide humanitarian response, with donations totaling more than US$14 billion. The event is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake.

Aceh Sultanate

The Sultanate of Aceh, officially the Kingdom of Aceh Darussalam (Acehnese: Keurajeuën Acèh Darussalam; Jawoë: كاورجاون اچيه دارالسلام), was a Sultanate centered in the modern-day Indonesian province of Aceh. It was a major regional power in the 16th and 17th centuries, before experiencing a long period of decline. Its capital was Kutaraja, the present-day Banda Aceh.

At its peak it was a formidable enemy of the Sultanate of Johor and Portuguese-controlled Malacca, both on the Malayan Peninsula, as all three attempted to control the trade through the Strait of Malacca and the regional exports of pepper and tin with fluctuating success. In addition to its considerable military strength, the court of Aceh became a noted centre of Islamic scholarship and trade.

Acehnese language

The Acehnese language (Jawi: بهسا اچيه) is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by Acehnese people natively in Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. This language is also spoken by Acehnese descendants in some parts of Malaysia like Yan, in Kedah.

Acehnese people

The Acehnese (also written as Atjehnese and Achinese) are an ethnic group from Aceh, Indonesia on the northernmost tip of the island of Sumatra. The area has a history of political struggle against the Dutch. Majority of the Acehnese people are Muslims. The Acehnese people are also referred to by other names such as Lam Muri, Lambri, Akhir, Achin, Asji, A-tse and Atse. Their language, Acehnese, belongs to the Aceh–Chamic group of Malayo-Polynesian of the Austronesian language family.

A 14th century Suruaso inscription was found in Tanah Datar Regency (West Sumatra), and written in two languages, Old Malay and Tamil. Tamil merchants also assimilated with Acehnese people and do not practice Tamil culture or speak the Tamil language. Among the present day Acehnese can also be found descent from Arab and Turkish merchants.

The Acehnese were at one time Hinduised, as evident from their traditions and the many Sanskrit words in their language. They have been Muslims for several centuries and are generally considered the most conservative Muslim ethnic group in Indonesia with the implementation of Sharia law in their home province of Aceh. The estimated number of Acehnese ranges between 3,526,000 people and at least 4.2 million peopleTraditionally, there have been a large number of Acehnese agriculturists, metal-workers and weavers. Traditionally matrilocal, their social organisation is communal. They live in gampôngs, which combine to form districts known as mukims. The golden era of Acehnese culture began in the 16th century, along with the rise of the Islamic Aceh Sultanate and later reaching its peak in the 17th century. Generally, the Acehnese people are regarded as strict adherents to the Islamic faith and also as militant fighters against the colonial conquest of the Portuguese Empire and the Dutch Empire.Aceh came to international attention as being the hardest-hit region of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake with 120,000 people dead.

Baiturrahman Grand Mosque

Baiturrahman Grand Mosque is a Mosque located in the center of Banda Aceh city, Aceh Province, Indonesia. The Baiturrahman Grand Mosque is a symbol of religion, culture, spirit, strength, struggle and nationalism of the Acehnese people. The mosque is a landmark of Banda Aceh and has survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Banda Aceh

Banda Aceh is the capital and largest city in the province of Aceh, Indonesia. It is located on the island of Sumatra and has an elevation of 35 meters. The city covers an area of 64 square kilometres and had a population of 219,070 people, according to the 2000 census. Banda Aceh is located on the northwestern tip of Indonesia at the mouth of the Aceh River.

The city was originally established as Bandar Aceh Darussalam Kandang and served as a capital and hub for the Sultanate of Aceh upon its foundation in the late 15th century. Later its name was changed to Bandar Aceh Darussalam, and then became popularly known as Banda Aceh. The first part of the name comes from the Persian bandar (بندر) meaning "port" or "haven." The city is also dubbed the "port to Mecca," or the "porch of Mecca" (Indonesian: Serambi Mekkah) in reference to the days when hajj pilgrims travelled by sea from Indonesia and would make a stop over in the city before continuing their journey to Mecca.

Banda Aceh had long been at the centre of protracted conflicts between the Acehnese and foreign domination, including war with Portuguese, wars with the Dutch, the Japanese and the Indonesian government. The city rose to international prominence in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean earthquake in 2004, which struck off the western coast of Sumatra. Banda Aceh was the closest major city to the earthquake's epicentre, which lay 249 km off the coast. It suffered great damage in the earthquake and further damage when a tsunami struck shortly afterwards. 167,000 people died as a result and many more were injured.The aftermath of the tsunami has seen a cessation of much of the conflict in the city and province, and domestic and international aid as a result has seen a major modernisation and reconstruction of the city over the past decade.

Chamic languages

The Chamic languages, also known as Aceh–Chamic and Achinese–Chamic, are a group of ten languages spoken in Aceh (Sumatra, Indonesia) and in parts of Cambodia, Vietnam and Hainan, China. The Chamic languages are a subgroup of Malayo-Sumbawan languages in the Austronesian family. The ancestor of this subfamily, proto-Chamic, is associated with the Sa Huỳnh culture, its speakers arriving in what is now Vietnam from Borneo or perhaps the Malay Peninsula.After Acehnese, with 3.5 million, Jarai and Cham are the most widely spoken Chamic languages, with about 230,000 and 280,000 speakers respectively, in both Cambodia and Vietnam. Tsat is the most northern and least spoken, with only 3000 speakers.

European Union Monitoring Mission in Aceh

The Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) was deployed by the European Union after the "Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Free Ache Movement" had been signed on 15 August 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. The AMM is one of many missions under the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy.

Football in Indonesia

Football is the most popular sport in Indonesia, in terms of annual attendance, participation and revenue. It is played on all levels, from children to middle-aged men. Liga 1, the Indonesian domestic league is popular. The national body is the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI). The Indonesian football league started around 1930 in the Dutch colonial era.

Insurgency in Aceh

The insurgency in Aceh was a conflict fought by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) between 1976 and 2005, with the goal of making the province of Aceh independent from Indonesia. The Indonesian state had designated it as the "Aceh Disturbance" (or Pemberontakan Aceh). Effects of strong military offensive in 2003 and 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake brought a peace deal and an end to the insurgency.

Islamic criminal law in Aceh

The province of Aceh in Indonesia enforces some provisions of Islamic criminal law, the sole province to do so. In Aceh, Islamic criminal law is called jinayat (an Arabic loanword). The laws that implement it are called Qanun Jinayat or Hukum Jinayat, roughly meaning "Islamic criminal code". Although the largely-secular laws of Indonesia apply in Aceh, the provincial government passed additional regulations, some derived from Islamic criminal law, after Indonesia authorized its provinces to enact regional regulations (perda) and granted Aceh special autonomy to implement Islamic law. Offences under the provisions include alcohol consumption, production and distribution, gambling, adultery, rape, sexual harassment, certain intimacies outside marriage, and certain homosexual acts. Punishments include caning, fines, and imprisonment. Caning is the only Sharia-based punishment that applied in Aceh; an attempt to introduce stoning in 2009 by local legislature was vetoed by Governor of Aceh Irwandi Yusuf. In 2016 Aceh processed 324 first instance court cases under Islamic criminal law, and carried out at least 100 caning sentences.

Supporters of Islamic criminal law defend its legality under the special autonomy granted to Aceh, saying that it is covered by the freedom of religion of the people of Aceh. Critics, including Amnesty International, object to the use of caning as a punishment, as well as the criminalization of consensual sex outside marriage.

Lebuh Aceh Mosque

Lebuh Aceh Mosque (Acheen St Mosque) is a 19th-century mosque built by the Acehnese situated on Acheen Street, George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

Next to the mosque lay the cemetery of the mosque's original benefactor, Tengku Syed Hussain Al-Aidid and members of his family. The houses surrounding the mosque today is part of the original Muslim settlement of the mid 19th century.

Another interesting mosque in Georgetown area that are open to visitors is the Kapitan Keling Mosque.

The Acheen Street Mosque was built in 1808 on land donated by an Achenese aristocrat, Tengku Syed Hussain Al-Aidid. It all began in 1792 when Tengku Syed Hussain opened a Muslim settlement in the area near Lebuh Acheh. Over the following years, this settlement became the centre of Islamic studies in Pulau Pinang, frequented by traders from the surrounding Malay archipelago, Arab and India.

The mosque was built alongside houses, shops and a Madrasah for Quranic Studies. One of the religious figures of the time was Sheikh Omar Basheer Al-Khalilee, who was succeeded by his son Sheikh Zakaria who later was appointed as the first Mufti of Pulau Pinang and in 1888, Sheikh Yahya, his older brother, was appointed as the first Kadi of Pulau Pinang.

Following the demise of Tengku Hussain in mid 19th century, the Lebuh Acheh Muslim settlement continued to thrive and was at one time referred to as the Second Jeddah, as pilgrims from nearby congregate here before departing to Mecca by sea. Each year when the Haj season began, the Lebuh Acheh area was thronged by pilgrims and their families. However, all this ended with the establishment of the Lembaga Tabung Haji in the 1970s.

List of regencies and cities of Indonesia

This is the list of regencies and cities of Indonesia. Both regencies and cities are second-level administrative subdivision in Indonesia, immediately below the provinces, and above the districts. They are roughly equivalent to American counties.In Indonesia, both regency and city are at the same administration level, each having their own local government and legislative body. The difference between a regency and a city lies in demography, size, and economy. Generally, a regency comprises a rural area larger than a city, but also often includes various towns. A city usually has non-agricultural economic activities.

A regency (Indonesian: kabupaten) is headed by a regent, known locally as bupati, while a city (Indonesian: kota) is headed by a mayor (walikota). All regents, mayors, and members of legislatures are directly elected via elections to serve for a five-year term which can be renewed once. Each regency or city is divided further into districts more commonly known as kecamatan, or distrik in Papua.

An administrative city is a city without its own local legislatures (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah). The mayor of an administrative city is directly appointed by the Governor. This type of city in Indonesia is only found in Jakarta which consisted of 5 administrative cities and 1 administrative regency.

Following the implementation of decentralization beginning on 1 January 2001, regencies and city municipalities became the key administrative units responsible for providing most governmental services.The list below groups regencies and cities in Indonesia by provinces. Each regency has an administrative centre, the regency seat.

Mie aceh

Mie aceh or mi aceh is an Acehnese curried spicy noodle dish, specialty of Acehnese people from Aceh region, Indonesia.

Ottoman expedition to Aceh

The Ottoman expedition to Aceh started from around 1565 when the Ottoman Empire endeavoured to support the Aceh Sultanate in its fight against the Portuguese Empire in Malacca. The expedition followed an envoy sent by the Acehnese Sultan Alauddin Riayat Syah al-Kahhar (1539–71) to Suleiman the Magnificent in 1564, and possibly as early as 1562, requesting Ottoman support against the Portuguese.


RCTI (Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia) is an Indonesian free-to-air television network based in West Jakarta. Its programming consists of news bulletins, sports events and soap operas.

Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport

Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport (Indonesian: Bandar Udara Internasional Sultan Iskandar Muda, Acehnese: Bandar Udara Antar Nanggroë Sultan Iskandar Muda), also called Banda Aceh International Airport (Indonesian: Bandar Udara Internasional Banda Aceh) (IATA: BTJ, ICAO: WITT) is the airport located 13,5 kilometres southeast of the capital of Aceh province, Banda Aceh. It is named after the twelfth sultan of Aceh, Iskandar Muda. This airport was formerly called Blangbintang Airport (Indonesian: Bandara Blangbintang), referred to its location in a subdistrict with same name. This airport is listed as the 23rd busiest airport in Indonesia.

After being hit by a devastating tsunami on 26 December 2004, the airport underwent renovation and a 3000-metre runway for wide-body jet liners was built. On 9 October 2011 the first Boeing 747-400 landed and took off successfully at the airport. This airport can act as a place of refugee in case of natural disasters, such as tsunami. The airport was also used as a staging ground for international emergency aid in response to the tsunami in Aceh.

Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport got World’s Best Airport for Halal Travellers in the World Halal Tourism Awards 2016.


Sumatra is a large island in western Indonesia that is part of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island that is located entirely in Indonesia (after Borneo, which is shared between Indonesia and other countries) and the sixth-largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 (not including adjacent islands such as the Riau Islands and Bangka Belitung Islands).

Sumatra is an elongated landmass spanning a diagonal northwest-southeast axis. The Indian Ocean borders the west, northwest, and southwest coasts of Sumatra with the island chain of Simeulue, Nias and Mentawai off the western coast. In the northeast the narrow Strait of Malacca separates the island from the Malay Peninsula, which is an extension of the Eurasian continent. In the southeast the narrow Sunda Strait separates Sumatra from Java. The northern tip of Sumatra borders the Andaman Islands, while off the southeastern coast lie the islands of Bangka and Belitung, Karimata Strait and the Java Sea. The Bukit Barisan mountains, which contain several active volcanoes, form the backbone of the island, while the northeastern area contains large plains and lowlands with swamps, mangrove forest and complex river systems. The equator crosses the island at its center in West Sumatra and Riau provinces. The climate of the island is tropical, hot and humid. Lush tropical rain forest once dominated the landscape.

Sumatra has a wide range of plant and animal species but has lost almost 50% of its tropical rainforest in the last 35 years. Many species are now critically endangered, such as the Sumatran ground cuckoo, the Sumatran tiger, the Sumatran elephant, the Sumatran rhinoceros, and the Sumatran orangutan.

Deforestation on the island has also resulted in serious seasonal smoke haze over neighbouring countries, such as the 2013 Southeast Asian haze causing considerable tensions between Indonesia and affected countries Malaysia and Singapore.

Ulee Geudong, Sawang

Ulee Geudong is a village in subdistrict Sawang, North Aceh Regency, Aceh province, Indonesia. The main occupations in Gampong Ulee Geudong are farming, gardening and breeding livestock. The village is located on the Jalan Elak (Bypass) Krueng Mane - Buket Rata 7-8 km Lhokseumawe and is very close to the Malikussaleh Airport as well as the Malikussaleh University.

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