Nias was devastated by the tsunami in and the earthquake 2004, which forced the locals to leave their homes and move to another Indonesian island. Those who had the means decided to leave Nias permanently, and began a new life in Jakarta or in other areas. The majority of residents are Christians and Catholics. The island of Nias is located at least 120 km from the nearest town of Sumatra and can only be reached by a ten hour journey by ferry or 45 minutes by small plane from Medan, the capital of the province of North Sumatra.
In December 2004, at least 300 residents of Nias were killed by the tsunami, which destroyed all the houses and forced at least ten thousand people to become homeless refugees. A year later the island was hit by another major earthquake, which took the lives of 1500 people.
The natural disaster in Nias is more bad news for Indonesia, still under shock from the incident in Kuta Kartanegara, East Borneo (Kalimantan), where a 730 meters long bridge collapsed bringing down with it vehicles and pedestrians. At least 20 people were killed, and probably the toll in human lives will rise again.