The 10 Largest Cities In Sumatra

Medan, Sumatra. Editorial credit: Uskarp /
Medan, Sumatra. Editorial credit: Uskarp /

Sumatra is an Indonesian island with an area of 473,481 square km and a population of around 50,180,000 individuals. It is the largest Indonesian island located entirely within the country and the world’s sixth biggest island by area. Sumatra is also the world’s fifth most populous island. It is, however, not very densely populated with just about 90 people living per square km on the island.

The Five Largest Cities In Sumatra

1. Medan

Medan is the largest city on the island of Sumatra. It is home to a population of 2,109,339 people. The city serves as the capital of North Sumatra. Medan is located at a strategic location along the Strait of Malacca which is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Hence, Medan is a busy trading city and is well-connected to the Kualanamu International Airport and the Port of Belawan. Several colonial architectural sites are also located in Medan.

2. Palembang

With a population of 1,452,840 people, Palembang is the second most populous Sumatran city. It is the capital of the country's South Sumatra province. The city spreads on both sides of the Musi River. Palembang is one of Indonesia’s oldest cities and was once the capital of the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya. It has many historical landmarks like the Ampera Bridge, Great Mosque of Palembang, Sriwijaya Kingdom Archaeological Park, etc.

3. Pekanbaru

Pekanbaru is Sumatra’s third largest city. It houses 903,902 individuals. It is located in the Riau province and serves as a regional economic hub in eastern Sumatra. The city is based on the banks of the Siak River. Since this river drains into the Strait of Malacca, Pekanbaru has direct access to this strait. It has helped support the trade-based economy of the city.

4. Bandar Lampung

Located on Sumatra Island’s southern tip, Bandar Lampung is the fourth biggest city on the island. It is part of Lampung province and has a population of around 879,851 individuals. Bandar Lampung is a multicultural city and serves as the capital of the Lampung province.

5. Padang

With a population of 833,584 people, Padang is the fifth biggest city in the West Sumatra province and the most populated one in the country’s west coast. It covers an area of 695 square km. The city is very green and has forested hills dotting its landscape. It is a popular tourist destination and the Padang Beach is known for its beautiful sunsets.

The Languages And Religion In Sumatra

Sumatra island has great ethnic and linguistic diversity. Over 52 languages are spoken on the island with all but two belonging to the Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian language group. Tamil and Chinese are the only two languages spoken in Sumatra that does not belong to this group. Indonesian is the official language in Sumatra and acts as the lingua franca. Islam is the religion of the vast majority of the Sumatran islanders. Buddhism is the second largest religion on the island followed by Hinduism.

The 10 Largest Cities In Sumatra

RankCityProvincePopulation 2010 CensusArea (km2)
1MedanNorth Sumatra21,09,339265.10
2PalembangSouth Sumatra14,52,840374.03
4Bandar LampungLampung8,79,851169.21
5PadangWest Sumatra8,33,584694.96
9BinjaiNorth Sumatra2,46,01090.24
10Pematang SiantarNorth Sumatra2,34,88560.52

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