A Brief History of
People who spoke Austronesian languages first arrived in Sumatra around 500 BCE, as part of the Austronesian expansion
from Taiwan to Southeast Asia. With its location in the India-China sea trade route, several trading towns flourished, especially in the eastern coast, and were influenced by Indian religions. One of the earliest known kingdoms was Kantoli, which flourished in the 5th century CE in southern Sumatra. Kantoli was replaced by the Empire of Srivijaya and then later by the Kingdom of Samudra. Srivijaya was a Buddhist monarchy centered in what is now Palembang. Dominating the region through trade and conquest throughout the 7th to 9th centuries, the Empire helped spread the Malay culture throughout Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, and western Borneo.