Banda Aceh

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

The city was originally named Kutaraja, and determined as the provincial capital in 1956. Kuta Raja means "City of the King", in reference to the founding of the Aceh Sultanate from Champa origins. Later its name was changed to Bandar Aceh Darussalam or popularly known as Bandar Aceh, with the first part of the name coming from the Persian bandar (بندر) meaning "port" or "haven". Today the city is spelled Banda Aceh with the lost of "r" in "Bandar". The city is also dubbed to as the "port to Mecca", and Aceh is also referred to as the "porch of Mecca" (Indonesian: Serambi Mekkah), since in the past during the days when the hajj pilgrims travelled by sea, the hajj pilgrim from all over Indonesian archipelago traditionally always make a stop over in the city before continuing their journey to Mecca. It is also known that earliest Southeast Asian Islamic sultanates — such as Samudra Pasai — were first established in Aceh, which means Islam first arrived in Aceh before spreading throughout Southeast Asia.

Banda Aceh was not frequently the subject of international discussion until 26 December 2004, the day the Indian Ocean earthquake struck off the western coast of Sumatra. Banda Aceh was the closest major city to the earthquake's epicenter, and suffered further damage when a tsunami struck shortly afterward. It was the worst hit area out of all the locations hit. 167,000 people died and many more were injured. The tsunami resulted from an earthquake of magnitude 9.3 and struck at about 6:58am. The epicenter was about 155 miles off the coast of Banda Aceh.

The elected mayor and vice-mayor of Banda Aceh are Mawardi Nurdin and Illiza Saaduddin.

Read more about Banda Aceh:  Administrative Divisions, Transportation, Media, Sport, Climate, Tourism, Sister Cities

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