From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Acheh Darussalam

Location of Acheh
and largest city
Cota Raja[1]
Official languagesAchehneseEnglish
Recognised regional languagesMalay • Alas • Gayonese • Arabic • Chinese varieties
LegislatureParliament of Acheh
• Establishment
• Jamal ul-Layl dynasty comes to power
• British protectorate
• Independence from Britain

The Sultanate of Acheh Darussalam (Acehnese: Kûrajûen Acheh Darussalam; Jawi: كاورجاون اچيه دارالسلام), commonly known as Acheh, is a country located on the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The monarchy borders Soenda to the east and shares maritime boundaries with Pinang and the Carnatic. Ruled by the Jamal ul-Layl dynasty since 1704, Acheh became a protectorate of the British Empire in 1873, eventually regaining its sovereign status in 1943. The country had been admitted as a member of the Organization of Democratic Nations in 1960.


Iskandar Muda, venerated as perhaps the most competent monarch in Achehnese history, died in 1641. For nearly seven decades after, the country was ruled by a succession of four queens of the Indrapura dynasty. During this time, Acheh experienced economic prosperity, established diplomatic relations with European powers, and extended its influence over large portions of western Indonesia. Under Queen Taj ul-Alam in 1672, Acheh established a treaty of commerce with both England and the Netherlands, two powers which Acheh had played off against each other until their reconciliation under Queen Henrietta in 1669.

Imagined portrait of Queen Kamaruddin (d. 1704).

In 1704, Islamic scholars opposed to female rule and factions of disconcerted nobles deposed Queen Kamaruddin. In her place, they installed a member of the sayyid Arab Hadhrami Jamal ul-Layl dynasty, Sultan Hasyim, as monarch. In 1725, Acheh descended into civil war when regional feudal lords rebelled against the central government in Cota Raja. A pro-Dutch noble of Bugis descent, referred to as Maharaja Lela, claimed the throne in 1726. Fearful of Dutch influence over the country, the English supported the restoration of the Jamal ul-Layls, eventually succeeding in their efforts in 1739 when Syed Nasiruddin Muhammad Shah was crowned Sultan.

Over the next century, Acheh gradually lost their near-monopoly over southeast Asia's tin and gold industries, as well as their political influence over neighboring Perak, Indrapura, Barus, Deli, and others. Much of this power was put into the hands of the Dutch East India Company, which had established dominance in the Malay peninsula in the first half of the 19th century. After the temporary weakening of Dutch naval prowess in the Second Hispano-Dutch War of the 1850s, Mahmud Shah II negotiated the establishment of a British protectorate over the country with noted diplomat Sir Josiah Anderson in the Anglo-Acehnese Treaty of 1873. Over the next few decades, Acheh began to industrialize while experiencing their own version of the agricultural revolution sweeping the world at the conclusion of the 19th century. The British Resident-Minister had gradually assumed more powers of government in Acheh, including taking over the traditional state roles such as the Officer of the Port (Shāhbandar).

In 1943, as part of a pre-emptive wave of British decolonization in an effort to disuade national republican efforts, Acheh officially regained complete sovereignty. The new state, unlike the pre-1873 government, was created a constitutional monarchy in which the Parliament had substantial power and numerous limits were imposed upon the monarch.

Government and Politics


  • 1.^ The city is also known as Bandar Acheh (بندر اچيه, 'Port of Acheh'). The name Cota Raja, by which the city is most commonly referred to with in English, is a misnomer adopted from Dutch Koetaradja.

See also