TAPANULI, a residency on the 'west coast of Sumatra, D. E. Indies, area, 38,227 sq.km., bounded north by Achin, east by the government of the East Coast of Sumatra, south by the resi dency of Sumatra West Coast, and west by the Indian Ocean. It is very mountainous, but has flat stretches of alluvial land on the coast between spurs of the great central range of mountains which traverses the length of the residency from north to south and forms a great massif from the centre of the residency to its eastern border which includes the mountain lake Toba, along the eastern shore of which the Tapanuli boundary runs. This lake, re garded as holy, was not seen by a European until 1863 (van der Tuuk). Previous attempts to reach it met with disaster, three Frenchmen and two Americans being murdered on their way to it, in 1835, while, in 185o, Ada Pfeiffer was obliged to turn back on account of native hostility. The lake, which is 3,00o ft. above sea level, is 56 m. long, with an area of 23 sq.m. and a greatest depth of 1,500 feet. It has a large hilly island, Samosir, in the centre, divided from the mainland on the west by a narrow chan nel. It is bordered on all sides by steep rocks, overhung with vege tation, and surrounded by mountains, and affords magnificent views. A good motor road runs to it from the coast, and there is a road around the lake from Balige to Prapat. There is also a motor boat service.
The mountains of Tapanuli include Malea, in the south, ft., Ulu Darat, in the centre, 7,010 ft., and Sibutan, on the north eastern border, 7,972 ft. Small rivers flow westwards from the mountains to the sea, the Gadis, Turu and Sibundong, but they are almost useless for navigation. The coast is either rocky or marshy, but in Tapanuli Bay, which is surrounded by mountains and shut off from the effects of the south-west monsoon by Mor sala Island, there is a good harbour with secure anchorage. Culti
vation is confined to the valleys and the flat coastal strips, where maize, rice, coconuts, coffee, nutmegs and rubber are grown. Gold and silver are known in close association. Pop. (1930) 1,042,583, largely Batak. The inhabitants consist of Mohamme dans and Christians, whilst many remain pagans, with traces of Hinduistic practices mingled with their animism. (See SUMATRA.) They grow rice, coffee, tobacco and maize, also fruit and vege tables, and keep horses, cattle, pigs and buffaloes, build pictur esque houses, are patriarchal in society, and are good craftsmen in wood, ivory and copper, whilst the women weave their own clothes. Cannibalism has been shed, and as the country becomes more opened up the Bataks become more amenable to outside civilizing influences. They have many languages.
The capital and chief port of Tapanuli is Sibolga, pop. 10,765, the headquarters of the Resident, which is connected by road with Lake Toba and the interior generally, and, by the road round the southern end of Lake Toba, with Pematang Siatar, the termi nus of the Sumatra West Coast railway, giving access to Medan and Belawan on the coast. A road through the Padang High lands connects Sibolga with Padang, and a branch from this leads to Natal, a small port on the coast, in the south, whilst there is road connection between Sibolga and Barus, a small port in the north, connected by cable and overhead telegraph with Padang, and, by vessels of the Royal Packet Navigation Company between Barus, Sibolga, Natal and Padang, Bencoolen and Batavia. Ex ports (1926), were and imports 5,072,923 guilders. Tapanuli was annexed piecemeal by the Dutch during the nine teenth century.