Before the tsunami, the rebellious Indonesian province of Aceh was hardly a household name — and even after the world’s TV, radio and newspaper reporters descended on the region, the bulk of their coverage focused on the horrors of the giant wave. But Aceh has a rich and troubled history, endowed with extraordinary natural resources, and saddled with a legacy of colonialist violence that is still playing out today. Historical Turmoil
The Military: Violence, Corruption
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Historical Turmoil | top
A paradise island by any measure, Sumatra — and its northernmost Aceh province in particular — has nevertheless suffered greatly from catastrophes both natural and human in origin. Of the former class of disaster, the most notable prior to the 2004 Christmas tsunami was the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, a volcanic island in between Java and Sumatra. Tsunamis from the explosion rose 100 feet high, claimed more than 35,000 lives, destroyed 165 coastal villages, and heaved 600-ton blocks of coral onto the shore.