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Island (pop., 2000 including adjoining islands: 43,309,707), western Indonesia. It is one of the Sunda Islands and the second largest island of Indonesia. It is 1,060 mi (1,706 km) long and 250 mi (400 km) wide. A chief city is Palembang. Located on the seaborne trade routes, the island had early contact with Hindu civilization. The Srivijaya empire arose in the 7th century and came to dominate much of the island. It fell under the Majapahit empire in the 14th–16th centuries. First the Portuguese, then the Dutch and English established forts there beginning in the 16th century. It was occupied by Japan in World War II and in 1950 became part of the Republic of Indonesia. Its exports include rubber, tobacco, coffee, pepper, and timber products; mineral reserves include petroleum and coal. In 2004 a large tsunami generated by a massive earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra caused widespread death and destruction in coastal areas bordering the Indian Ocean.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Sumatra, visit Britannica.com.