Medan (Indonesian pronunciation: [meˈdan] (listen); English: //) is the capital and largest city of the Indonesianprovince of North Sumatra. A regional hub and financial centre of Sumatra, it is one of the four main central cities of Indonesia, alongside Jakarta, Surabaya, and Makassar. As of the 2020 Census, Medan has a population of 2,435,252 within its city limits, and over 3.4 million in its built-up urban area, making it the fourth largest urban area in Indonesia. The Medan metropolitan area—which includes neighbouring Binjai, Deli Serdang Regency, and a part of Karo Regency—is the largest metropolitan area outside of Java, with 4,744,323 residents counted in the 2020 Census. Medan is a multicultural metropolis and a busy trading city bordered by the Strait of Malacca. A gateway to the western part of Indonesia, Medan is supported by the Port of Belawan and Kualanamu International Airport, both of which are connected to the city centre via toll roads and railways.
The city was founded by Guru Patimpus, a Karonese man who named the area of swampy land in the confluence of Deli River and Babura river as Kampung Medan Putri. It later became a part of the Deli Sultanate which was established in 1632. With the help from the 9th Sultanate Sultan Ma’mun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alam, and Chinese businessmen Tjong Yong Hian and Tjong A Fie, the rapid development of the economy transformed Medan into a trade hub with the nickname het land dollar, meaning “the land of the money.” The Deli Railway was established for shipping rubber, tea, timber, palm oil, and sugar from the city to the Port of Belawan. Medan was the capital of the State of East Sumatra before it became the provincial capital of North Sumatra. Medan was dubbed Parijs van Sumatra due to the city’s resemblance to Paris.
According to the diary of a Portuguese merchant in the early 16th century, the name of Medan was derived from Tamil word Maidhan, also known as Maidhāṉam (Tamil: மைதானம்), that means Ground, adopted from Malay language. One of the Karo-Indonesia dictionaries written by Darwin Prinst SH published in 2002 stated that Medan could also be defined as “recover” or “be better”.
In ancient times, the city of Medan was known as Kampung Medan (Medan Village). It was a piece of swampy land with an area of approximately 4000 ha. Some of the rivers crossing the city of Medan drain into the Straits of Malacca. These rivers are Sei Deli, Sei Babura, Sei Sikambing, Sei Denai, Sei Putih, Sei Percut and Muara Belawan.
The area in and around Medan city, Deli and Langkat Regency was the location of ancient Kingdom of Aru (Haru). The kingdom was established by the Karo people and flourished between 13th to 16th century. Several archaeological sites around Medan are connected to the Kingdom of Aru, including Kota Rentang in Hamparan Perak area, Deli Serdang Regency, the Kota Cina archaeological site in Medan Marelan, and Benteng Putri Hijau, a fort ruin in Deli Tua, Namorambe, Deli Serdang Regency.
Medan started as a village called Kampung Medan (Medan Village). Kampung Medan was founded by Guru Patimpus Sembiring Pelawi, a Karonese man who came from the Karo Land. Before he became a Muslim, he was a Pemena follower. Following the history of “trombo” and Hamparan Perak (XII Kuta), Guru Patimpus studied Islam from Datuk Kota Bangun. At the time, Guru Patimpus and his people wanted to meet Datuk. Not only did they want to meet him, they also wanted to compete with him for “power.” Whenever Guru Patimpus went to Kota Bangun, he always passes Pulo Brayan. In Pulo Brayan, Guru Patimpus fell in love with the Princess of Pulo Brayan. Eventually, he married the princess and had two sons, Kolok and Kecik. The married couple then turned the forest area in confluence between Deli River and Babura River into a small village, naming it Kampung Medan (lit. Medan Village). The day has been marked as the date of Medan’s anniversary, 1 July 1590.
In his days, Guru Patimpus is known to be a forward-thinking person. This was proved by sending their children to study and read the Qur’an to Datuk Kota Bangun and then sent them to Aceh to deepen their knowledge on Islam.
In early days, the natives called the area as the Land of Deli (Indonesian: Tanah Deli), it starts from Ular River to the Wampu River in Langkat while the Deli Sultanate in power at the time of his territory does not cover the area between the two rivers.
Statement confirming that the Kampung Medan is a description H. Muhammad Said quoting through the book Deli: In Woord en Beeld written by N. ten Cate. The statement said that early Kampung Medan was a fortress which was composed of two layers of roundabout-shaped walls at a confluence between two rivers namely Deli and Babura rivers. The Administrateur house is located across the river from the Kampung Medan. The location of Kampung Medan is in the modern-day location of the Wisma Benteng building now and the Administrateur house is in present-day PTP IX Deli Tobacco building.