IntroductionSumatra (sŏmäˈtrə) [key], island (1990 pop. 36,471,731), c.183,000 sq mi (473,970 sq km), Indonesia, in the Indian Ocean along the equator, S and W of the Malay Peninsula (from which it is separated by the Strait of Malacca) and NW of Java (across the narrow Sunda Strait). The westernmost and second largest island of Indonesia, Sumatra is c.1,110 mi (1,790 km) long and c.270 mi (435 km) wide and is fringed with smaller islands off its western and eastern coasts. The Bukit Barisan, a volcanic mountain range with more than 30 active volcanoes, traverses its length, reaching 12,467 ft (3,800 m) at Mt. Kerinci. Rising in the Barisan range are several large rivers, including the Hari, Indragiri, and Musi; some rivers are being developed for hydroelectric power. In the north is the great salt lake Toba. Because of the hot, moist climate and heavy rainfall, the vegetation is luxuriant, and much of the eastern half of the island is swampland. The interior is covered largely by impenetrable rain forests. Among the native animals are elephants, clouded leopards, tapirs, tigers, Malayan bears, and snakes.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Indonesian Political Geography