Introduction / History The Batak Karo people are the indigenous people of the the Karo highlands, North Sumatra.
Where are they located? Most of the Batak Karo live in the Karo regency. Some of them live in Dairi, Deli Serdang, Medan, Langkat or Southeast Aceh. Many of them live in villages known as 'kuta.' The traditional homeland of the Batak Karo people consists of the Karo and Dairi regencies and some parts of Deli Serdang, Langkat and Southeast Aceh regencies.
What are their lives like? Most of the Batak Karo who still live in their homeland are farmers. Some of the Batak Karo live outside their homeland, such as Jakarta, Bandung or Surabaya, some of the Batak Karo men who live outside their homeland work as minibus (angkot) drivers, private chauffeurs for rich families or bus drivers. Some others become truck drivers, or even street criminals. Those who are educated go outside their homeland to become teachers or lecturers.
What are their beliefs? Historically, the Batak Karo followed a religion called Karo Pemena, which is a syncretic religion mixing Hinduism and traditional Karo religion. In the early 20th century, many converted to Christianity or Islam. Some of the Batak Karo are Christians, especially those who live in Dairi, and some of the Batak Karo people are Muslims, especially those who have already assimilated with the Malay society and live in Deli Serdang, Medan, Langkat and Southeast Aceh. In Karo regency, there have never been conflicts between those two religious groups. It is common in a village in the Karo regency if there is a mosque and a church which are next to each other, it symbolizes peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians.
What are their needs? Some of the Batak Karo people are very poor, they need to go outside their homeland, or even outside Indonesia. But some of them who do that become poor and jobless. To solve that problem, the local district council send some of them to work abroad. In the Karo regency, some of the roads are damaged, they need the roads to be repaired.
Sumatera Utara Province, Langkat, Deli Serdang, Karo, and Dairi regencies west and northwest of Lake Toba; south, small border area in Tapanuli Tengah regency; also in southern Aceh Province, small enclave in Aceh Tenggara regency; south, parts of Kota Subulussalam, Aceh Selatan, and Aceh Singli regencies. (Source: Ethnologue 2016)