Banda Aceh is the provincial capital and largest city of Aceh, Indonesia, located on The Island of Sumatra, with an elevation of 21 meters. The population was approximately 260,000 in 2006 and latest population was 224.209 in 2010 (Dok.BPS). Banda Aceh is located at the northwestern tip of Indonesia at the mouth of the River Krueng Aceh.
The city was originally named Kutaraja, and determined as the provincial capital in 1956. Kuta Raja means "City of the King", in reference to the founding of the Aceh Sultanate. Later, its name was changed to Banda Aceh, with the first part of the name coming from the Persian bandar meaning "port" or "haven". It is also proudly referred to as "Port to Mecca", as Islam first arrived in Aceh before spreading throughout Southeast Asia.
Banda Aceh was not frequently the subject of international discussion until 26 December 2004, the 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 afterward. It was the worst hit area out of all the locations hit. More than 167,000 people died and many more were injured. The Tsunami resulted from an earthquake of magnitude 9.3 and struck at about 8:30am. The epicenter was about 155 miles off the coast of Banda Aceh.
Travel permit (surat jalan) is no longer permit for Foreigners to enter Aceh, but an Indonesian Visa is required. Since 6 June 2010, it is possible to get a 30 day visa no arival at Banda Aceh Airport.
After long conflict between the Acehnese independence movement (GAM) and the Indonesian army (TNI) was solved by the peace agreement on 15 August 2005, Banda Aceh nowadays are safer than most European cities.