One of the main ethnic groups on the island of Sumatra, Indon. In the 13th century the Achinese became the first people in the archipelago to adopt Islam. After expelling the Portuguese in the 17th century, the sultanate of Acheh was dominant in northern Sumatra until it was conquered by the Dutch in 1904 (see Achinese War). Now part of the Indonesian republic, the Achinese are restive and are administered within a special district. They trace their descent through both maternal and paternal lines. Women have a high social position, and they do not wear veils. The group numbers roughly 2.1 million.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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