Batam City Indonesia’s Boomtown, an Introduction

Batam is one of the boomtowns of Indonesia. A growing city, transport hub and manufacturing centre Batam represents the future of Indonesia’s economy.

The island was first occupied by settlers around 231 AD. It’s proximity to Singapore and Bintan meant that it was usually governed in concert with the two and was one a island under the rule of the sultan of Singapore, control of the island was later handed over to the Melakan sultanate. Leadership of the island was transferred peacefully from one leader to the next, usually as a results of the fall of kingdoms. The island was first transferred from the Kingdom to Temasek (Singapore) to Melaka under Admiral Hang Tuah. It then transfered to Adminal Hang Nadim of Bintan Island after the fall of Melaka. After Hang Nadim’s death, the island was controlled by the Sultan of Johor and was administered as part of the Johor-Riau-Lingga Sultanate.

Johor-Riau SultanateThe Johor-Riau Sultanate at its peak and subsequent partition (source)

Throughout that period of history, Batam was a simple fishing villageĀ  that followed the whims and fancies of larger powers. It was only in the 1970s that things started to change when Batam was chosen as a logistics hub and operation base for the Indonesian state-owned oil and natural gas company – Pertamina. But that was not enough to turn it into the growth region it is today.

Batam is such a vibrant city today because of its prominent role in the SIJORI growth triangle.

Batam 1A welcoming Batam from the distance

The SIJORI growth triangle is an economic region involving Johor in Malaysia, the Riau Islands of Indonesia and Singapore aiming to combine the competitive strength of the regions to recreate an attractive investment region for regional and international investors.

Batam City CompilationA compilation of Batam City from Wikipedia

The plan was first mooted in 1998 and the idea was to use Singapore as a services hub while moving labour intensive services to Johor and Riau so that everyone would benefit.

Batam 2The macro-picture sounds good, but as with all stories, there is also a dark side. Batam has attracted from around Indonesia to work there because of the factories and growth, and it is the the human story is even more heartrending .

The largest pool of visitors to Batam are from Singapore (65 %), most of whom arrive by ferry departing from Habourfront Ferry Terminal. A number of whom do arrive in Batam for prostitution.

There is obviously more to do i

Growth in Batam is still relatively uneven. The city centre in the north is awash with resort hotels and facilities for the tourist dollar,

and the further out of Batam one gets, the buildings get older and older.

Batam 3 Batam 4At its furthest are many villages or kampongs with few amenities.

Batam 5So why should someone go to Batam?

Some go for the fun, others to escape the Singapore city for a while, some for sex, more for food.

For the beach and water sports fans, Nongsa is the place to be.

I went there because I had never been there before in close to 30 years of existence and I heard about the food.

Join me on the next few days to find out more about this Indonesian boomtown.

How to get there

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