Aceh is located in the Northwestern of Sumatra Island with the area of approximately 57,365.57 km square or 12.26 % of size of Sumatra Island. It consists of 119 islands, 73 major rivers and 2 lakes. Aceh is surrounded by Malacca Strait in the north, North Sumatra Province in the east, Indian Ocean in the south and the west. The capital of Aceh is Banda Aceh.
Aceh was long known for its desire for political independence from Indonesia.
When the 26 December 2004 Tsunami hit the coastline of Aceh, the Acehnese welcomed and accepted the help offered from outside donors and communities in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the province.
The tremendous loss of life also influenced the thinking of political figures of the province, and the Aceh Government became more open to peace talks.
The 29 year long struggle for special control (autonomy or independence) subsequently ended with the Helsinki Peace Agreement which was signed on 15 August 2005, and the decision to remain a province of Indonesia. Since then, the peace process has been quite smooth, without major incidents.The AAM (Aceh Monitoring Mission) funded by the EU oversaw the process.
There are a number of major towns, among them: Banda Aceh (capital), Lokhseumawe, Meulaboh, Sigli, and Calang. Also the island of Sabang (an hour ferry ride from Banda Aceh), considered a diver’s and snorkeller’s paradise, belongs to the province.