Nias, located in Sumatera Utara propinsi (province), Indonesia. The largest island in a chain paralleling the west coast of Sumatra, Nias has a topography much like that of western Sumatra but without volcanoes. The highest elevation is 2,907 feet (886 metres). The coasts are rocky or sandy and lack ports; ships must anchor offshore of Guning Sitoli on the eastern coast and of Teluk Dalem on the south.
Most of the people are animists of Malay ancestry and speak dialects of a distinct branch of the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) language family. At 130 kilometers long and 45 kilometers wide, Nias Is just slightly smaller than better-know Bali. Until the Dutch colonized the island in 1825, its rugged terrain, malarial climate and warlike population had isolated the people of Nias from mainstream Sumatran Culture. As a result, Islanders were spared most of dramatic influx of Indian, Islamic and European cultural influences that swept through the rest of Indonesia. In relative solitude, they developed a feudal society, build on a reverence for ancestors and those who could mediate between this world and the next. Over the past century, however Christianity has taken hold on the island, replacing traditional beliefs with old ways gently yielding to the lure of modern world.
The island was just beginning to emerge as a favored destination for backpackers and surfers, who sought its rustic hospitality, lively nightlife and towering “ right handers” considered among the best waves in the world. Although many of the island traditional buildings were in desperate need of care and attention, they were, nevertheless, still standing. Today, however, concrete buildings with the roofs of corrugated metal outnumber those constructed of wood; in many villages, satellite dishes have displaces stone megaliths dedicated to revered ancestors as village focal points.