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From top left: Baiturrahman Grand Mosque, Lake Laut Tawar, Sabang, Gunung Leuser National Park, Seulawah Agam, Aceh Tsunami Museum
|Established||7 December 1956|
and largest city
Aceh is a province of Indonesia. It is located on the northern end of Sumatra. Its capital and largest city is Banda Aceh. It is close to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India and separated from them by the Andaman Sea.
Aceh is a religiously conservative territory and the only Indonesian province practicing Sharia law officially. There are ten indigenous ethnic groups in this region, the largest being the Acehnese people, accounting for approximately 80% to 90% of the region's population.
According to several archaeological findings, the first evidence of human habitation in Aceh is from a site near the Tamiang River where shell middens are present. Stone tools and faunal remains were also found on the site. Archaeologists believe the site was first occupied around 10,000 BC.
Aceh is the place where the spread of Islam in Indonesia began, and was a key factor of the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia. Islam reached Aceh (Kingdoms of Fansur and Lamuri) around 1250 AD. In the early seventeenth century the Sultanate of Aceh was the most wealthy, powerful and cultivated state in the Malacca Straits region. Aceh has a history of political independence and resistance to control by outsiders, including the former Dutch colonists and later the Indonesian government.
Aceh was the closest point of land to the epicenter of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which devastated much of the western coast of the province. The western coastal areas of Aceh, including the cities of Banda Aceh, Calang, and Meulaboh, were among the areas hardest-hit by the tsunami resulting from the magnitude 9.2 Indian Ocean earthquake on 26 December 2004.
While estimates vary, over 170,000 people were killed by the tsunami in Aceh and about 500,000 were left homeless.
The tragedy of the tsunami was further worsened several months later, when the 2005 M8.6 Nias–Simeulue earthquake struck the sea bed between the islands of Simeulue Island in Aceh and Nias in North Sumatra. This second quake killed a further 1346 people on Nias and Simeulue, displaced tens of thousands more, and caused the tsunami response to be expanded to include Nias.
The World Health Organisation estimates a 100% increase in mild and moderate mental disorders in Aceh's general population after the tsunami.
The population of Aceh before the December 2004 tsunami was 4,271,000 (2004). The population as of 15 September 2005 was 4,031,589, and at January 2014 was 4,731,705. The latest official estimate (as at 1 July 2019) is 5,316,320,
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