Nias - Encyclopedia

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NIAS, the largest island in the chain off the west coast of Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, lying about 1° N., 97° 30' E. It is roughly oblong in form, measuring about 80 m. by 28, and appears to be partly of volcanic origin and to consist partly of older rocks corresponding with those of Sumatra. Its extreme elevation is about 2300 ft. A number of islets (Nako, Bunga, &c.) lie off the west and north coasts. The island is thickly populated by a pagan people, who by some authorities, including F. Junghuhn, have been associated with the Battas, but are probably a distinct branch of the pre-Malayan or Indonesian race. Slavery and head-hunting are universal, despite the efforts of Dutch and German missionary societies. The natives are skilled in such crafts as weaving and metal-work, as well as in agriculture and road-making. Coco-nut oil is produced on Nias and also more especially on the Nako group. A Dutch commissioner is established at Gunong Sitoli on the east coast, a settlement of Malay and Chinese traders.

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