Sumatra is a sparsely developed island, where nature grows in abandon, and human settlements are few and far between. In fact, the island used to be entirely covered with rainforest. However, today, much of the land is used for agricultural production. Thus, the people of Sumatra are a diverse group of races and cultural groups, most of whom are farmers. For instance there are the Batak, who are high mountain settlers that inhabit the tops of the mountains in Sumatra which are volcanic in origin. These people have their own dress code, religious beliefs, customs and architecture. They believe that Lake Toba is their spiritual center, although it has become a main tourist attraction. The Mingangkabau culture is a muslim culture, centered around the town Bukittinggi. Off the coast of North Sumatra, the island Nias is inhabited by headhunters. While this custom has faded over time, the people still practice some of their traditional customs, such as stone-jumping. In this custom, the young boys of the culture prove their manhood by jumping over a stone monument that is more that 2 meters high.



One of the popular art skills in Sumatra is making traditional handwoven clothes, called Ulos. These Ulos have different significance. For example, the Ulos Ragi Hotang is a ceremonial sheath that announces the birth of a boy or a wedding.