Nias (nēˈäs), volcanic island (1990 pop. 588,543), 1,842 sq mi (4,771 sq km), Indonesia, in the Indian Ocean, off Sumatra. Most of the population are descended from the Niah people; their economy is largely agricultural. The chief town is Gunungsitoli. Native handicraft is highly developed; megalithic shrines dot the land. The Dutch began trading there in 1669. The island is subject to severe earthquakes, that of Mar., 2005, being the most recent and especially devastating, killing more than 700 there and on neighboring islands.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
an island in the Indian Ocean, west of Sumatra, that belongs to Indonesia. Area, more than 4,000 sq km. Hills and low mountains of volcanic origin with elevations to 886 m predominate. Equatorial evergreen rain forests grow on lateritic soils. There are mangrove thickets along the seashores and marshes in the north and east. Rice is grown, and there are plantations of coconut and sago palm and nutmeg. There is fishing. Gunungsitoli is the main port.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.