Medan is the capital of the North Sumatra province in Indonesia. Located on the northern coast, Medan is the third largest city in Indonesia (behind Jakarta, Surabaya, and the largest Indonesian city outside Java. The city is bordered by the Deli Serdang Regency to the east, south and west, and the Strait of Malacca to the north. It is close to the volcano Sinabung, which just erupted in Sept 2013 after a 400-year dormant state.
Medan started as a village called Kampung Medan (Medan Village). Kampung Medan was founded by Guru Patimpus around the 1590s. Because Kampung Medan sits on Tanah Deli (Land of Deli), Kampung Medan is also referred as Medan-Deli. The original location of Kampung Medan is an area where the Deli River meets the Babura River.
Medan did not experience significant development until the 1860s, when the Dutch colonialists began clearing the land for tobacco plantations. Medan quickly became a center of government and commercial activity, dominating development of Indonesia's western region.
The Dutch governed Tanah Deli from 1658, after Sultan Ismail, ruler of the Siak Sultanate, yielded some of his once-ruled land, Deli, Langkat, and Serdang. In 1915 Medan officially became the capital of North Sumatra Province, and officially a city in 1918.
Currently much of Medans historic architecture from the colonial era is rapidly being demolished to make way for modern buildings (malls, garages, etc.).