Friday, January 29, 2010

Riau Islands

Riau islands was part of Johor Empire. Sir Stamford Raffles must be regretted for not asking Riau islands together with Singapore. The Singapore government is today facing the problem of land shortage. With Riau island, Singapore will be having wider territories, and land bank. Riau island was a strategic place for maritime traders and military in the history of Strait of Malacca. Study of Malaysia/Singapore history should not miss Riau Islands, otherwise you are missing an important link of Malay history.

Riau Islands/Riau Archipelago

The Riau Islands were part of Riau Province until 2004, when they were made into a separate province. Riau Islands in broad definition is the name of the Riau Islands Province, in a narrow definition is the name of the Riau Archipelago.

Riau Islands Province

Riau Islands Province (Indonesian: Provinsi Kepulauan Riau (Kepri or Riau Kepulauan) is a province of Indonesia, consisting of Riau Archipelago, Natuna Islands, Anambas, and Lingga Islands.

Originally part of the Riau Province, the Riau Islands were split off as a separate province in July 2004 with Tanjung Pinang as its capital.

1. Riau Archipelago
2. Natuna Islands
3. Anambas
4. Lingga Islands.

1.The Riau Archipelago

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The Riau Archipelago (Indonesian: Kepulauan Riau also known as Riau Islands (ambiguously)) is the core group of islands within the Riau Islands Province in Indonesia, and located south of Singapore. The islands are home to the majority of the Riau Islands province's (Provinsi Kepulauan Riau)'s population and development, and include tourist areas. Historically they along with Singapore (Temasek) were under the Johor Sultanate before the split thru the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, it is quite possible Singapore itself was considered a part of this archipelago during this time. The name of this archipelago predated the province by over two hundred years, and historically DID NOT include Lingga Islands, Natuna Islands of which belong to the province of the same name.

The main islands are:

1. Bintan,
2. Batam,
3. Rempang,
4. Galang,
5. Combol,
6. Kundur, and
7. Karimun.

Tanjung Pinang located on Bintan is the provincial capital. Tanjung Balai Karimun is an international port along with Tanjung Pinang.

High speed ferry services exist to the archipelago of the south, Lingga Islands (Kepulauan Lingga).

Penyengat Island - Its significant in Malay history

Penyengat Island is about 1.5 km west of the city of Tanjung Pinang, around 10 km northeast of Batam Island, the archipelagic province’s industrial center. According to the 2005 census, Penyengat Island has a population of only 2,224.

The 3.5 square kilometer island is special, as it is the birth place of the man who created Malay grammar and wrote the dictionary, Raja Ali Haji. He was convinced that Riau Malay would become the language of correspondence, textbooks and literature, a prediction that has proved to be true.

During the Riau war against Dutch colonizers from 1782 to 1784, Penyengat Island was the main center of resistance. The island’s defense system was constructed in the Portuguese style, with a rock fortification built around it. At present, traces of the stronghold remain, although in bad repair.

Penyengat assumed greater importance in 1803 when its defense status was promoted to a state. The island was ruled by Yang Dipertuan Muda, of the kingdom of Riau-Lingga, the Sultan’s government aide. The Sultan himself was at his central government kingdom in Daik Lingga, now the regency of Lingga.

In 1900 Riau Malay kingdom ruler Sultan Abdul Rahman Muazam Syah moved the central government to Penyengat Island. Sultan Abdul Rahman reigned over Riau, Johor and Pahang from 1883 to 1911.

Sultan Abdul Rahman, who refused to sign a contract to give up Riau’s traditional rights and royal reign, moved to Singapore to avoid Dutch forces.

“When he arrived in Singapore, the king ordered his subjects to destroy the palace and other important buildings because the Dutch would be taking over them. So, though it has not yet been a century since the Riau-Lingga sultanate ended, its palace is already in ruins,” said Raja Malik, recounting the history of the island.

2. Natuna Islands

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The Natuna Islands archipelago (272 islands) is located in the Natuna Sea. The islands are officially part of the Riau Islands province of Indonesia and it is the northernmost non-disputed island groups of Indonesia.

1. Main islands include archipelagoes of Natuna Besar, South Natuna archipelago and Tambelan archipelago, the last consisting of Badas Islands.

(i)Natuna Besar (or Great Natuna, also Bunguran Island, Natuna Island) is the main island of the Natuna Besar Archipelago, as well as the Natuna Islands, which are part of the Riau Islands Province, Indonesia. The Natuna archipelago is one of the northernmost island groups of Indonesia. The area of Natuna Besar is 1720 km². The northernmost island in Indonesia (and the Natuna Besar Arch) is Laut Island (Natuna).

The island of Bunguran is home to three species of non-human primate: the slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), and the Natuna leaf monkey (a.k.a. Natuna pale-thighed surili, Presbytis natunae).

(ii)South Natuna (Kepulauan Natuna Selatan) is an archipelago near the northern tip of West Kalimantan province of Indonesia. The archipelago is spread out over hundreds of kilometers. Major islands include Subi Island, Panjang, Midai, Murih. The Selasan Strait cuts through the bottom of the cluster of islands.

The South Natuna group comprises the islands of Serasan, Panjang and Subi.

(iii)Tambelan archipelago is a group of islands off the west coast of West Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia, just north of the equator, separated but sometimes considered part of the Natuna Islands of Riau Islands Province. It consists of other archipelagoes, namely Badas Islands. (Kepulauan Badas). Major islands include Tambelan Besar, Mendarik, Uwi, Benua, Pejantan.

The population is around 100,000.Despite important natural gas reserves, most of the locals work as fishermen or farmers. There is no significant tourism industry.

Note: The Anambas archipelago, located several hundred kilometers to the west and comprising Terempa, Matak and Jemaja Andriabu island, are also sometimes included in the Natuna Islands.

3. Anambas

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Anambas have a large reserve of natural gas that is exported to countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.

The island of Matak is the main base for oil exploration. Other islands are Siantan (Tarempa), Mubur, Jemaja and Kiabu (Airabu).

Related articles

1. Pulau Penyengat : Nineteenth Century Islamic Centre of Riau , by Virginia Matheson, This is an academic article which is useful for further details on Pulau Penyengat)

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