After the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, Northern Sumatra experienced three shocks: a negative shock from the tsunami itself and the Nias earthquake that followed in 2005; a positive shock from the massive allocation of recovery funds; and another positive shock from the peace deal between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement, also in 2005. We analyse the consequences of these shocks on the spatial distribution of the population in Northern Sumatra, building on the approach developed by Davis and Weinstein (2002). We conclude that there have been no significant changes in the relative position of regions in Aceh and North Sumatra, considering their population size. Our model of estimated population growth suggests that the twin disasters had only a temporary impact, which supports the locational fundamentals theory. Our results also reveal that the peace deal is important in explaining the dynamics of population growth in the region. © 2014 Indonesia Project ANU.