NIAS, the largest island in the chain off the west coast of Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, lying about 1° N., 97° 30' E.
Coco-nut oil is produced on Nias and also more especially on the Nako group. A Dutch commissioner is established at Gunong Sitoli on the east coast, a settlement of Malay and Chinese traders.
In many parts of the world it is held that the human body is the seat of more than one soul; in the island of Nias four are distinguished, the shadow and the intelligence, which die with the body, a tutelary spirit, termed begoe, and a second which is carried on the head.
The inhabitants of Nias, an island to the west of Sumatra, have the strange belief that to everyone before birth is given the choice of a long and heavy or short and light soul (a parallel belief may be found in early Greek philosophy), and his choice determines the length of life.
Unlike Java, Sumatra has a series of considerable islands (Nias Islands, Mentawi Islands, &c.) arranged like outworks in front of the west coast, which faces the open Indian Ocean.