Morphologically Medan's central area can be divided into three segments: the Colonial core district, the Chinese area, and the sprawling native settlements. The Colonial district consists of the most important buildings and infrastructures, including the business area in Kesawan, the military area between Deli River and Babura River, the upper-class residential area in Polonia "Tropical Garden City", Central market, churches, hospitals, schools, factories, train station, and airport. The high-density mixed-used Chinese area is located on the eastern side of Deli River, intersected with the Colonial area in Kesawan. The centre of native settlement is the Sultan's Palace and the Mosque at the southern end of the city next to Kesawan business district and the Chinese area. The palace was built in 1888 and the mosque in 1907 with Orientalistic-Imperialist architectural style, as a significant expression of the Dutch colonial cultural dominance and political control.
Entering the 20th century, Medan was a rapidly growing trading city. According to 1910 census the city's population was 17,500. By the end of Dutch rule in 1942, the population reached 80,000. The current population of Medan is around 2 million people, the fourth largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung.