NIAS ISLAND

The tropical Island of Nias is located in the west coast of Sumatra (Indonesia). With a population of more than 700,000 people, it covers an area of 5,625 km2 that is mostly lowlands with a central ridge that reaches an altitude up to 800m above sea level. Nias island relative geographic isolation from the rest of the country has created a unique culture, being one of the few remaining Megalithic Cultures in existence today. Nias is best known for its remarkable diversity of festivals and celebrations including the "War Dances", currently performed just for tourists, and "Stone Jumping", a manhood ritual where young men must jump over a two meter stone tower.

Its inhabitants (called the "Nihas") are believed to come from the south of China, from which they might have emigrated around 2,500 years ago. The religious composition of the island is around 95% Christian (80% Protestant and 20% Catholic) and the rest Muslim. This was as a consequence of the Christianization of the island started by the Dutch missionaries when they arrived in the XVIII century. Nias Island current population is more than 700,000 inhabitants. Although the official language is Bahasa Indonesia, "Bahasa Nias" is the language generally spoken in the island.

Gunung Sitoli is the biggest town in Nias and it is the center of administration and business affairs.

The island is located in a highly instable seismic zone, with earthquakes occurred since antiquity. The geography of the island is characterized by high mountain areas in the centre of the island, followed by valleys reaching the coastal areas. As a consequence of the ‘warrior past’ of the island (mainly in the south), this led to villages being constructed on the top of the hills for defense and protection purposes.

The island meteorology is defined by a high rainfall (more than 3,000mm of rain per year) what occasionally may lead to strong storms and eventual floods all around the island.

The island of Nias was affected on 26th December 2004 by the Tsunami and on 28th March 2005 by an earthquake of intensity 8.7 (Ritcher Scale) that caused a great damage in the island and took many lives.

Sorake Beach is located in the south of Nias, about 14 km west from the town of Teluk Dalam, next to Lagundri Beach. This place is immersed in the fascinating tradition and culture together with the beautiful landscape of the island of Nias. It is also known as one of the best places in the world for surfing because of its excellent big waves.