The town of Siak Sri Indrapura at the mouth of the Siak river was once the seat of a great Malay kingdom that from 1723 to 1946 held sway over the seas around the entrance of the Malacca Straits all the way to Sambas in present-day West Kalimantan
The Siak Sri Indrapura kingdom was founded in 1723 by Raja Kecil Sultan Abdul Jalil, after he failed to gain the succession to the Johor-Riau throne. Nevertheless, he soon succeeded in developing his kingdom into a strong maritime nation, strategically situated at the entrance to the busy Straits of Malacca, which at the time was being fought among the European colonizing powers of Britain, the Portuguese, the Dutch as well as the Malay kingdoms on both sides of the Strait. Sultan Abdul Jalil was a descendent of the great Pagaruyung kingdom of the Minangkabau in West Sumatra.
In its quest for suzerainity, the kingdom of Siak was supported by the Orang Laut - the sea gypsies – who were – and still remain - an inseparable part of the sea trade and traffic around the islands.
In 1946, the last sultan of Siak, Sultan Syarif Kasim II decided to join with and integrate his kingdom into the Republic of Indonesia. Siak is now a district in the province of Riau on Sumatra.
The people of Siak are staunch Muslims and have spread the religion from here to other parts of Sumatra, including to the Minangkabaus. Nonetheless, as regards the matter of inheritance of a house, Siak still follows the Minangkabau matrilineal tradition, namely that a house is bequeathed following the female line.
Today, the town of Siak, officially called Siak Sri Indrapura, is a beautiful and clean town with wide and well paved avenues, situated some 2 hours by car from the province’s capital city, Pekanbaru.