Banda Aceh is the provincial capital and largest city of Aceh, Indonesia, located on the island of Sumatra, with an elevation of 21 m. The population was approximately 260,000 in 2006.
The city name first was named as Kutaraja, determined as the provincial capital in 1956. Kuta Raja means "City of the King", in reference to the founding of the Aceh Sultanate from Champa origins. Later its name was changed into Banda Aceh, where the first part of its name comes from the Persian bandar (بندر) and means "port" or "haven". It is also proudly referred to as the "port to Meccah", as Islam first arrived in Aceh and spread throughout Southeast Asia.
Until December 26, 2004, Banda Aceh was a relatively little known town. On that day the Indian Ocean earthquake struck off the western coast of Sumatra. Banda Aceh was the closest major city to the earthquake's epicenter, and suffered further damage when a tsunami struck shortly afterwards. It was the worst hit area out of all the locations hit. 130,000 people died and many more were injured. The tsunamis resulted from an earthquake of 9.0 on the richter scale and struck at about 6:58am. The epicenter was about 155 miles off the coast of Banda Aceh.
The elected mayor and vice-mayor of Banda Aceh are Mawardi Nurdin and Illiza Saaduddin.
Baiturrahman Grand Mosque
This is one of the most famous landmarks in the city. It was rebuilt in 1875 after it was burnt down in the Aceh war