About Medan


Medan (Indonesian pronunciation: [meˈdan]; is the capital of North Sumatra province in Indonesia. Located along the northeastern coast of Sumatra island, Medan is the fourth biggest city by population in Indonesia, behind JakartaSurabaya and Bandung. Medan constitutes the largest settlement outside Java island together with the richness of its multicultural peoples. Bordered by the Strait of Malacca, Medan is a busy trading city around the island as located near the strait which is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. Medan is the gateway to the western part of Indonesia, accessible via the Port of Belawan and Kuala Namu International Airport, stated the city as the third largest city in the country by economy after Jakarta and Surabaya, this city economy is linked well with Malaysian cities (especially Penang and Kuala Lumpur) and Singapore by trade, service and natural resource exchanges. Both the seaport and the airport are connected to the city center via toll road and railway. Medan also becomes the first city in Indonesia to have an airport supported with pleasant train service.

The city was founded by Guru Patimpus, a Karonese man who named a swampy land in confluence of Deli River and Babura river as Kampung Medan Putri (Village of Medan) as the first settlement. In 1632, the Deli Sultanate was established by Tuanku Gocah Pahlawan, who became its first king. In the 18th century, the eighth king, Sultan Mahmud Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam, started a relationship with the Dutch. Jacob Nienhuys, a Dutch tobacco merchant, pioneered the opening of tobacco plantations in Deli Land. The area’s name changed to Medan-Deli when it was established by Dutch tobacco commerce after the formation of the Deli Company. With the help from the 9th Sultanate Sultan Ma’mun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam, and also the well-known Chinese businessmen Tjong Yong Hian and Tjong A Fie, the rapid development of the economy transformed Medan-Deli into a big trading center with the nickname het land dollar, aka the land of the money. The Deli Railway was established for shipping rubber, tea, timber, palm oil, and sugar industries from the city to Belawan, a port town located north of Medan. Medan was briefly the capital of the State of East Sumatra, which was established in 1947 as a result of the Dutch “police actions” against newly-independent Indonesia and later became part of the United States of Indonesia from 1949 to 1950. Following the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia, Medan became the capital of North Sumatra in mid-1950.

In recent years, the city has undergone rapid development, and has seen large scale infrastructure projects such as a new airport, seaport, elevated railroad, toll roads, and a planned mass rapid transit system. Residential property prices in Medan have also trended upward over the period from 2013 to the first quarter of 2015, according to Bank Indonesia (BI). According to BI, Medan’s residential property price index rose from 205.24 in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 212.17 in the fourth quarter of 2014, and to 214.41 in the first quarter of 2015.


According to the diary of a Portuguese merchant in the early 16th century, the name of Medan was actually derived from Tamil word Maidhan, also known as Maidhāṉam (Tamil: மைதானம்), that means Ground, adopted from Malay language. One of the Karo-Indonesia dictionaries written by Darwin Prinst SH published in 2002 stated that Medan could also be defined as “recover” or “be better”.


In ancient times, the city of Medan was known as Kampung Medan (Medan Village). It was a piece of swampy land with an area of approximately 4000 ha. Some of the rivers crossing the city of Medan drain into the Straits of Malacca. These rivers are Sei Deli, Sei Babura, Sei Sikambing, Sei Denai, Sei Putih, Sei Percut and Muara Belawan.


Medan is in the northeastern part of Sumatra island, in Sumatera Utara province. Medan lies on the banks of the Deli River and Babura River which feed into a naturally sheltered harbor and then into the Straits of Malacca, it has helped the city grow in significance as a trading port. Its elevation varies between 2.5 and 37.5 metres (8 ft 2 in and 123 ft 0 in) above sea level. Medan is close to the Barisan Mountains which is located in the southern part of the city and close to volcanoes such as Sibayak Mountain and Sinabung Mountain (located as far as 50 to 70 kilometres (31 to 43 miles) from the city).


Under the Köppen climate classification, Medan features a tropical rainforest climate (Af) with no real dry season.[13] Medan does have noticeably wetter and drier months, with its driest month (February) on average seeing about one third of the precipitation of its wettest month (October). Temperatures in the city average approximately 27 °C (81 °F) throughout the course of the year. Annual precipitation in the Medan is around 2,200 millimetres (87 inches).

Located in the central part of Deli Serdang Regency, Medan is surrounded by satellite cities and towns such as BinjaiLubuk Pakam, Tanjung Morawa, Tembung, Percut Sei Tuan, and Labuhan Deli which help the city become a new urban area in Indonesia which known as ‘Mebidang’ (Medan, Binjai, Deli Serdang)


The city is Indonesia’s fourth most populous after JakartaSurabaya, and Bandung, as well as Indonesia’s largest city outside Java island. The population has risen from 568,000 in 1968 fourfold to 2.1 million in 2010. Much of the population lies outside its city limits, especially in Deli Serdang Regency. The official Metropolitan area (Wilayah Metropolitan Medan) was inhabited by 4,144,583 people in 2010.

Ethnicities and languages

Batak (including Mandailing and Karo people) and Javanese are the major ethnic groups in Medan, with sizeable ChineseMinangkabau and Malay populations and smaller groups of AcehneseIndiansNias, and Sundanese people. Medan also has foreign residents from IndiaSri Lanka BangladeshThailandChinaTaiwanMiddle East and other Asian countries.

The city has diverse communities, reflected by its history. The Bataks is one of the major ethnic groups in Medan, there are three sub-ethnic Bataknese in the city such as TobaKaro and Mandailing Bataks. Karo are the natives in Medan, meanwhile Toba people cames in the past by the Dutch and employed them as workers in oil palm plantations, the last one are Mandailing people that came in big mass after the independence era to find a better jobs. The Bataks reside throughout the city, as the Karo people reside around southern area like Padang Bulan, Medan Johor and Tuntungan. Toba Batak people reside in Marindal and Amplas, there are big number also living in nearby city-center like in Medan Perjuangan district, meanwhile the Mandailing people mostly reside in Medan Tembung.

In addition, there is a large ethnic Javanese community, largely made up of the descendants of people transported from Java in the last 19th century to be employed as contract workers at various plantations in North Sumatra. They are usually known as Pujakesuma (Indonesian: Putra Jawa Kelahiran Sumatera, English: Sumatra-born Javanese). Their presence in Medan can be marked from various Javanese toponymies in Medan, such as Tanjungsari, Sarirejo, Sidodadi, Sidorejo, and etc (mostly in East Medan and Medan Tembung area). The Malays are another natives in Medan, already living in outskirt area like Belawan and Labuhan since Aru era as fisherman, and then they’re come to city area after establishment of Deli Sultanate new palace in 18th century. The Malays living spread throughout the city, but they have a big concentration population in Medan Maimun, Kota Matsum, Labuhan and Belawan.

A highly visible component of city population is the large number of Chinese as them starting migrate from China to Deli since 16th century and big flow migration in 19th century as planters and coolies. Now, Medan is home of the largest Chinese community in the Sumatra island, who are active in the business and trading activities. Mostly Chinese residents in Medan can speak fluent Hokkien, a dialect originating from Fujian in Southern China. Medan also has its own variation of Hokkien, known as Medan Hokkien, which has the same similarity with Penang‘s one. The Chinese reside throughout the city, but majority lives around city centre area. The city also host a sizable community of Tamil descendants who are commonly known as Madrasis or Tamilan. A well-known Tamil neighbourhood are Kampung Madras which is located on the city-center, added up as being one of the busiest part of the city.

Alongside Chinese, Minangkabaus is also known as the merchants, peddlers, and artisans, in addition to as white collar, doctor, lawyer, and journalist. Minang people came to Medan since mid-19th century. In 1960s to 1980s, the number of Minangkabau people migrating to Medan surged, and formed 10% to population in the city. Minangkabaus living around Medan Denai and Medan Maimun area. Acehnese is other minority ethnics in Medan. Big number of Aceh people mostly coming after conflict that has happening in Aceh in late 1970s as seeking for a peace place. Nowadays, they are known working as merchant like operates grocery store and Mie Aceh restaurant around Setia Budi and Ring Road/Sunggal area.


Islam is the major religion of Medan, constituting almost 60 percent of all residents; most of those who follow Islam are Javanese, Minangkabaus, Mandailings, Malays, Acehnese and small Karonese people. Mosques and Halal food are quite easy to find anywhere around the city. Christianity is the second largest religion, constituting around 29.26 percents, most are Protestants and small (around 10 percent out of all Christians) are Catholics. The Bataks (Toba, Karo, Simalungun), Nias with a small Chinese and Indian people are the main adherents of this religion. The HKBPGBKP and Methodist are the biggest Christian denominations in Medan.

Buddhism formed around 9.90 percent, with the Chinese being the largest group of followers. Most Buddhists in Medan follow Mahayana Buddhism. The followers worship BuddhaMaitreya and also Avalokitesvara. Hindu are the 4th largest religion at around 2.15 percent. The Indonesian government does not include Sikhs as an official religion, but the majority of the Indians who are living in Medan are followers. Hinduism in Medan is quite different from other parts of Indonesia where the branch is the Balinese version of Hinduism and the major Gods worshipped include MuruganShivaMariamman and Krishna. The last registered religion in Medan are Confucianism or in Indonesian known as Konghucu, mostly adherent are the Chinese, the Taoism and Chinese Folk religion are also including as Confucian in ID Card, ConfuciusMazu and Guandi are the most worshipped God and Goddesses for this religion followers in Medan.


Medan is inhabited by many different ethnic groups. Malay people are the natives of the Medan area, and have deep roots in Medan. They began ruling there during the Deli Sultanate until now. The empire has many lands and property of heritage in Medan, such a palace, mosque and park. The Dutch and Chinese bringing a big contributor to the city development, include during Dutch East Indies era, many historical buildings are made by Dutch and Peranakan architercture along Jalan Kesawan and Pemuda. The arrival of Minangkabaus, Bataks, Javanese and Indian people bringing more colours to the culture of Medan, especially cuisine.