also spelled  Bencoolen , or  Benkoelen 

      city and capital of Bengkulu provinsi (province), southwestern Sumatra, Indonesia. It is a port on the Indian Ocean, 180 miles (289 km) southwest of Palembang. The British had a trading post there in the 17th century, and in 1710 the Fort of Marlborough was built. In 1824 Bengkulu was handed over to the Dutch under the terms of the Treaty of London. In 1938 Sukarno, the Indonesian nationalist leader who later became the first president of the Republic of Indonesia, was exiled to Bengkulu during the nationalist movement's struggles against Dutch colonial rule.

      Now a major trade centre for mining and agriculture, the city exports gold, silver, coffee, pepper, corn (maize), and cinchona bark. Industries include wood carving, metalworking, basketry, textiles, pottery and tile making, and batik printing. Roads connect it with the coastal towns of Manna, Mukomuko, and Padang, and it has an airport. An old Christian cemetery and a botanical garden are located in the city. Pop. (2000) 279,753.

      provinsi (province), southwestern Sumatra, Indonesia, bounded by the Indian Ocean on the west and by the provinces of Sumatera Barat (West Sumatra) on the north, Jambi and Sumatera Selatan (South Sumatra) on the east, and Lampung on the southeast. It covers an area of 7,639 square miles (19,786 square km) and includes Mega and Enggano (Enggano Island) islands in the Indian Ocean. The region formed part of the Buddhist Śrivijaya empire in the 8th century. It became part of the Hindu Majapahit empire of eastern Java in the 16th century. The first European visitors were the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch in 1596. The region gradually came under Dutch possession, except for British occupation briefly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Bengkulu town, now the provincial capital, and the surrounding area remained British until 1824, when the Dutch acquired it by treaty. The province was included in South Sumatra state by the Dutch in 1946 and became part of the Republic of Indonesia in 1950.

      The north–south-trending Bengkulu Mountains, which are surmounted by both active and extinct volcanoes, run parallel to the coast and traverse the length of the province. Mount Seblat rises to an elevation of 7,818 feet (2,383 metres), and Mount Kaba reaches 6,358 feet (1,938 metres). The mountains are flanked by a strip of fertile coastal plain that is enriched from time to time by fresh deposits of ash and lava. Rivers and streams, including the Selagan and Seblat rivers, flow southwestward into the Indian Ocean. The province's agriculture is based on shifting cultivation; rice, tea, coffee, copra, palm oil, ebony, ironwood, and rubber are the major products. Industries and crafts include food processing, textiles, wood carving, metalware, leather, paper plaiting, and the manufacture of transport equipment. Roads run parallel to the coast and connect the settlements of Muaraaman, Curup, Bengkulu, Manna, and Bintuhan. The Minangkabau and Redjang (Rejang) Lampong are the major ethnic groups, and they are predominantly Muslim; Arabs and Chinese are settled in the coastal areas. Pop. (2000) 1,567,432.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.