- Banda Aceh
kotamadya (municipality), capital of Aceh semiautonomous province, Indonesia. It is located on the Aceh River at the northwestern tip of the island of Sumatra, facing the Andaman Sea. (Andaman Sea)Banda Aceh is known as the “doorway to Mecca,” for historically it has been a stopping place for Muslim pilgrims journeying by ship from the east to Mecca. Visited by Marco Polo in 1292 and by Ibn Baṭṭūṭah in 1345 and 1346, Banda Aceh became the capital of the sultanate of Aceh in the 17th century. Its ruler, Iskandar Muda, engaged in naval battles with the Portuguese in the Strait of Malacca. The Dutch occupied the city in 1873, and the subsequent Achinese War (Acehnese War) between the Dutch and the Achinese continued until 1903. Banda Aceh remained a centre of Achinese separatist efforts after Aceh was incorporated into Indonesia. In December 2004 a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean west of Sumatra triggered a large tsunami that destroyed or heavily damaged much of the city and killed tens of thousands of people.The population of Banda Aceh is mostly Acehnese (Achinese), together with South Asians, Arabs, Turks, Chinese, and others. Local industries produce gold jewelry, cotton and silk fabrics, lamps, engraved copper bowls, and sword blades. The city is linked by road and rail with the eastern coastal cities of Lhokseumane, Langsa, and Medan; it also has an airport. The city contains many notable sites—including a sports stadium, the Baturrachman Mosque, the Aceh Museum, the Gunongan, or Walking Palace (a series of baths and pleasure gardens on the banks of the Aceh River), and a fine beach—however, most sustained heavy damage from the 2004 tsunami. Syiah Kuala University was founded in 1960. Pop. (2005) 177,181.
* * *