Relative to Bali, North Sumatra has very heterogeneous ethnic groups, and thus, cultures. The people of the eastern coasts, also known as the Malays (Melayu) have markedly different traditions and culture from Batak highlanders who live around Toba Lake and Samosir Island. Further south, the Mandailings and Angkolas, and Nias Island, have yet more flavors of traditions and culture. Besides them, there are several ethnic groups who live in Medan and other towns of North Sumatra. Its largest groups are Chinese and Indian, who being naturalized Indonesian citizens. Other Indonesian tribes like Acehnese, Minangkabau, Javanese, etc also live in many parts here. Each of the mentioned tribes as well as the ethnic groups has its own dialect, religion, beliefs, traditional customs, etc. Arts and cultures make this region, a paradise for social scientists. Among the ancient Indonesian cultures, which can be seen at Samosir Island, are the centuries old tombs of Batak Toba kings and a stone-table with its benches, where the Siallagan chiefs formerly held meetings.
North Sumatra province has 70,787 sq km width. Geographically, it is located between 1o and 4o North Latitude and between 98o and 100o East Longitude. The area is Borders with:
North side: the special territory of Aceh South side: West Sumatra Province and Riau Province West side: Indian Ocean East side: Malacca Strait
North Sumatra Province is divided among 11 regencies, 6 municipals, and 3 administrative towns with Medan as its capital city.
Composed of coastal areas, lowlands, plateaus, and mountains. Humidity: Varies between 79% and 96%. Climate As one of Indonesia islands, North Sumatra has rainfall of 1,100-3,400 mm per year. It temperature is range between 18o C and 34o C.
Historically, North Sumatra Province has a migration flow of population either from other provinces because of the existence of heavy plantation in this province or migration to other areas for studying and expanding business. Since population mobility is high, there are multi ethnics on the community. In 1994, the population density of North Sumatra Province reached 157 people per Km2. Compared to the average national population growth (2.144% per year), this province was on the lower level with 1.53% per year. The projection population composition in 1997 can be seen on the following table.