Padang is the largest city in the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia and the capital of West Sumatra province. It has a population of over 1,000.000 people.
Since the 16th century Padang has been a trade centre. During the 16th and 17th centuries pepper was cultivated and traded with India, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. In 1663 the city came under the authority of the Dutch. The Dutch built a trading post here in 1680. The city came under British authority twice, the first time from 1781 to 1784 during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, and again from 1795 to 1819 during the Napoleonic Wars. Afterwards the city was transferred back to the Netherlands. Up to approximately 1780 the most important trade product was gold, originating from the gold mines in the region. When the mines were exhausted, the emphasis turned to other products such as coffee, salts and textiles.
At the time of independence in the 1940s the city had around 50,000 inhabitants. Coffee was still important, but copra was also a major item produced by farmers in its hinterland. The population growth since then has been partly a result of growth in the area of the city, but largely is a result of the migration to major cities seen in so many developing nations. In 1950 there was development of the Ombilin coal field with Padang as its outlet. This was seen by some observers as reflecting the economic as well as political colonization of Indonesia.