Palembang formerly an independent kingdom on the east coast of Sumatra, now a Netherlands residency, is bounded on the north by Jambi, north-west by Bencoolen, south by the Lampong districts, and south-east by the Strait of Banca, has an area of 61,911 square miles, sand a population amounting, in 1885, to 573,697 souls. Much of the land is low-lying swamp, covered with a wilderness of impenetrable bush; but in the south it rises into mountains, of which Oeloe Moesi is 6180 feet in height. Gold-dust, iron- ore, sulphur with arsenic, lignite, and common coal are found; also clays suited for making coarse pottery, etc. Springs of pure oil occur near the coal-fields of Bali Boekit, and of mineral water in various places. Rice, cotton, sugar, pepper, tobacco, and in the interior cocoa-nuts are grown; the forests producing gutta-percha, gum-elastic, ratans, wax, benzoin, satinwood, etc. The rivers abound with fish; and the elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, panther, and leopard roam the woods, as well as the deer, wild swine, and goats, with many varieties of the monkey. In the dry season the thermometer ranges from 80° to 92° F., and in the rainy season, 76° to 80°; but the climate is not considered unhealthy, except in the neighborhood of the swamps.
The natives are descended from Javanese, who in the 16th century, or earlier, settled in Palembang, and ruled over the whole land. The race, however, has become mixed with other Malays, and the language has lost its purity. In the north-west interior is a tribe called the Koeboes (Kubus), of whose origin nothing is known, but who are probably the remainder of the aborigines. They do not follow agriculture. but go about almost naked, and live chiefly by fishing and hunting. No clear idea of a Supreme Being seems to be possessed by them, though they believe in existence after death. SEE MALAYS.