The volcanic mountain range of Bukit Barisan slopes to the east to the Strait of Malacca. It determines the landscape of North Sumatra. As early as the 19th century coffee, tea and tobacco plantations brought great wealth to the area. Oil palm cultivation took a high flight too. Large oil reserves off the coast further enhanced the richness of the province. A group of immigrants left their home countries in southern China thousands of years ago. Today they are known as the Batak people, a group of tribes belonging to the same ethnic origins. They make North Sumatra a particularly interesting destination. West Sumatra is the home of the Minangkabau, one of the few matriarchal societies in Asia. Both groups adhere to an identity that distinguishes them from the rest of Indonesia. The stunning scenery and the interesting ethnic inhabitants of North and West Sumatra are more than enough reasons to explore the two provinces.