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Published on Feb 5, 2008
Aceh, at the northwestern end of Sumatra, was the first province of Indonesia to have significant contact with the outside world. Chinese chronicles of the sixth century speak of a kingdom called Po-Li on the northern tip of what is now Sumatra. 9th century Arabic and Indian writings mention Aceh as an important trade centre. The first Islamic Kingdom in Indonesia was established in 804 in Aceh, and the region's position as an Islamic stronghold grew as the city became a centre for Islamic learning and the gateway for Indonesians making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Over the centuries, a constant influx of traders and immigrants established Aceh as a wealthy and influential trading nation, possessing a strong sense of independence. Aceh's dominance in trade and politics reached its peak in the early 1600's.
Ache's decline began with the death of Sultan Iskandar Thani in 1641, when the British and the Dutch began to battle for control of the region. The London Treaty of 1824 gave the Dutch control of all British possessions in Sumatra, in return for their withdrawal from India and Singapore.