Sumatra - Demographics

Demographics

Sumatra is not very densely populated, about 96 people per km2—more than 45 million people in total. Because of its great extent, it is nonetheless the fourth most populous island in the world. The most populous regions include most of North Sumatra and central highlands in West Sumatra, while the major urban centers are Medan and Palembang.

The people represent many different ethnic groups, speaking 52 different languages. Most of these groups share many similar traditions, and the different tongues are closely related. Ethnic Malay dominate most of the eastern coast, while people in the southern and central interior speak languages related to Malay, such as the Lampung and Minangkabau people. The highland of northern Sumatra is inhabited by the Bataks, while the northernmost coast is dominated by Acehs. Ethnic Chinese minorities are present in urban centres.

A majority of people in Sumatra are Muslims (87%), while 10% are Christians, 2% are Buddhist and 1% are Hindu. Most central Bataks are Protestant Christians, a religion introduced by the German Rhenish Missionary Society.

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