Karang Suffolk is a reef in Simeulue Regency, Aceh, Indonesia. It is located around 65 miles off the west coast of Sumatra. The closest land is the small island of Pulau Lasia, approximately 6.5 miles to the south west; which itself is located between Pulau Tuangku to the east and Pulau Simeulue to the northwest. (Karang is the Indonesian word for coral reef).
How to get there: No scheduled boat service to Karang Suffolk. Pulau Simeulue is accessible by ferry from Meulaboh, Aceh province, on the Sumatran mainland.
Nearest international airport is Polonia International, near Medan, Sumatra.
Time Zone: Western Indonesian Time (GMT +7). No daylight saving time in summer.
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It seems likely that the reef was first reported in 1796 by Capt. Robert Lambert of the HMS Suffolk a 74 gun ship-of-the-line 1765-1803. The ship was involved in landing troops in the Dutch East Indies in February and March 1796 during the French Revolutionary Wars after the Netherlands had been conquered by the French. It was, thus, active in the area at the time.
The position of the reef was not determined until 1887. A report in the Victoria Government Gazette, No.39, on 6 May 1887 states: “The Hydrographic Office, Batavia, on 23 February 1887, issued the following: The master of the N.I. steam vessel “Japara” reports the “Suffolk Reef” eastward of Poeloe Tapak to lie on the following bearings 02° 11’ 24” N, 96° 41’ 35” E.”
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Aceh, in which Karang Suffolk is situated, is a province of Indonesia. It is one of five Indonesian provinces to be designated a Special Region; in Aceh’s case due to its use of Sharia Law as the regional law of the province. Formerly known as Daerah Istimewa Aceh (1959–2001) & Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam (2001–2009), it became known as Aceh in 2009. Aceh is the most northerly province on the island of Sumatra; ironically being bordered to the south by the province of North Sumatra. The population in 2010 was just over 4,486,000. The province’s capital is Banda Aceh in the extreme north of the island.
The Sultanate of Aceh was originally established in the fifteenth century as an Islamic kingdom, & by the early seventeenth century it had become the most wealthy & powerful state in the Malacca Straits region; with its influence spreading as far as modern day Thailand & Malaysia.
After Indonesian independence in 1949, Aceh was initially amalgamated with the predominantly Christian province of North Sumatra, which resulted in a rebellion in 1953, with calls for the establishment of an Islamic state. This resulted in the government granting Aceh special status in 1959, with more autonomy than other provinces of Indonesia. Other calls for independence from the 1970s onwards, together with the emergence of the Free Aceh Movement, led to the introduction of Sharia law in 2003.
The Simeulue Regency is an area within Aceh province which occupies Pulau Simeulue & the surrounding islands. It was created in 1999 & has a population of around 80,000. Its capital is Sinabang.
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