Bintan Island or Negeri Segantang Lada is an island in the Riau archipelago of Indonesia. It is part of the Riau Islands province, the capital of which, Tanjung Pinang, lies in the island's south and is the island's main community.
Bintan's land area is 2,402.28 square kilometres (927.53 sq mi) (total area is 60,057 square kilometres (23,188 sq mi) including 96% sea area). Its administrative region is designated the Bintan Island Regency, one of the six administrative regions of the Riau Islands province. The city of Tanjung Pinang is an autonomous area within the Bintan Island.
Bintan's history is traced to the early 3rd century. The island flourished as a trading post on the route between China and India, and over the centuries it came under the control of the Chinese, the British, and then the Dutch when it was declared part of the Dutch East Indies through the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. In the 12th century, the Bintan island in the Strait of Malacca was known as the "Pirate Island" since the Malay pirates used to loot trading ships sailing in these waters.
Singapore, the closest major city, is a 45-50 minute trip by motorised catamaran across the South China Sea from Bintan Resort area in the northwest of the island. The island has beaches with beach-front International hotels and resorts; the most prominent of these beaches is the Bintan Resorts set over an area of 300 hectares (740 acres) of tropical environment. The archipelago of the Riau islands is right opposite to this resort across the South China Sea. Indonesia is promoting Bintan as the next best tourist destination after Bali.
Bintan, is the largest among the 3,200 islands of Riau Archipelago and is located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of the Batam Island. It has a coast line of 105 kilometres (65 mi) and has rolling topography in its landform. The Riau islands were a province of Indonesia, which encompassed the Riau Archipelago, Natuna Islands, Anambas, and Lingga Islands. However, in July 2004, the islands of Riau were divided to form the province with its capital at Tanjung Pinang. The archipelagos of Anambas and Natuna, located between mainland Malaysia and Borneo are now part of this province
In the Tanjung Pinang city, the low tide reach or the mud flat part was built with stilts and were mosquito and rat infested. Above these mud flat reaches, narrow piers or pelantars were built at higher elevations and the old city of Tanjung expanded with a maze of streets and alleys. The old pier with the name Pelantar II thrives as the fish market. The town has a large population of the Chinese, whose presence is seen around three Buddhist Pagodas with the 'Citiya Bodhi Sasana' overlooking the ocean at the end of Pelantar II pier.
The Indonesian sea route through the Bintan straits has been considered very safe for sailing of small freighters. The island has developed over the centuries in two distinct zones, namely, the southern and the northern zones, which are clearly differentiated from the prevalent life styles of people living there.
The highest hill on the island is Bintan Besar, which is 360 metres (1,180 ft) in height and has thick forest cover. It is formed by old volcanic eruptions. The summit of this peak can be reached through a forest track and the climb takes about 3 hours. The top of this peak provides a panoramic view of Bintan. It is approached from a hamlet at the foot of the hill, known as Kampung Sekuning, which is 60 kilometres (37 mi) from Tanjung Pinang. Despite being larger than Batam, it is less populated.
Several daily ferries run between Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal of Singapore to the Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal on the northern part of the Island in Bintan resorts and also at the Telaga Punggur Ferry Terminal at Tanjung Pinang, the capital of the Indonesian province of Riau Islands covering a distance of 45 kilometres (28 mi) in about 45 minutes. The nearest airport to Bintan is at Batam Island. From here, chartered ferry services are available to Bintan and Bintan Resorts.
Bintan is very close to the Equator. Hence, tropical climate is dominant all through the year with two distinct seasons namely the northeast monsoon from November to March and a dry southwest monsoon from June to October with the annual rainfall precipitation incidence varying in the range 2,500–3,000 millimetres (98–120 in). The island has an "insular character" with a constant temperature averaging at 26 °C (79 °F). The temperatures reported vary between 21 °C (70 °F) and 32 °C (90 °F). March to early November is the dry and the quiet season with clear sunny days. Winter season lasts from late November to March.
Though a large island compared to all other islands in the Riao archipelago, it is sparsely populated. As the Dutch ruled over the islands for a long period, their influence is distinctly discerned in the island. Population is about 200,000 with the citizens mostly belonging to the Malay, Bugis, Chinese and the Orang Laut ethnicity. An observation made on the distribution of different ethnic groups in Bintan is that Indonesians have migrated in large numbers to the island and as result Malays, the original settlers of the region, are now a minority in Riau Archipelago as a whole. This is attributed to the fact that the island is close to Malaysia and Singapore in particular and Indonesians flock to the place to get a foot hold to go to Singapore. In the capital city of Tanjung Pinang, the urban population had jumped from 98,871 in 1998 to 134,940 in 2004.
Flora and fauna
In Bintan, the primary forest cover was in a limited area on the hills. There was extensive deforestation done mostly for the cultivation of gambier (Uncaria gembieri). The plantation size of each gambier plantation was 30 hectares (190 mi). For processing of gambier leaves firewood was essential. This requirement was met by cutting forests of as much as the 30 hectares (190 mi) sized gambier plantations. With this amount of forest degradation, the gambier processing could be sustained for 12 years only. Forest was not available for use for the processing, and production of gambier was discontinued, while efforts continued to find new stocks of firewood. Inevitably, Gambier was totally abandoned. In the 20th century rubber plantation replaced gambier. Even the rubber plantations were abandoned due to water logging problems. Now, on the higher reaches of the hills secondary forests have developed in those areas where water logging is not prevalent. The abandoned land is also now put to other uses. In the rain forests of the island on the trek to the Gunung Bintan peak, now vegetation consists of 40 metres (130 ft) tall trees of dipterocarp (which bears two winged fruits) and many other plants.
Various species of sea animals and plants are found underwater. From squids to snails, from various fish to oyster – several marine species including Sea Turtles are found here. Dolphins are also sighted. The variety and diversity of sea life is very attractive. Wild life animals seen on this forest trek are: silver leaf monkeys, Sunbirds, eagles and kites.
Sea Turtles, in particular, are the special species of Indonesia and its many islands, including Bintan; six species out of seven found in the world are recorded in Indonesia. The Indonesian law protection Act. no. 5 1990 re Conservation of Nature Resource and its Ecosystem; Government Regulation no. 7 1990 re Conservation Species of Flora & Fauna and the international trade by CITES (Convention of International Trade on Endangered Species) provide protection to these species.
Bintan Island was one of the locations where Turtles were found in large numbers; in the 1950s, during the nesting season, at least 2 nests used to be found every day on the coastline of Bintan Resorts. Now, the nests are not found as frequently as in the past. Turtle tracks, nests, eggs, and egg shells have been recorded during patrol surveys conducted during specified periods, not only in Bintan but also in the Pasir Pasan beach. In the Bintan Resort's nestling beaches hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas) have been recorded. Research and Development Department and Environmental & Health Division of Bintan Resort are encouraged by their patrolling efforts and they are confident that sea turtle nests would be protected on Bintan and also conserved in local villages.
For detailed information on visas, please see Indonesia page. All Bintan ports, namely Sri Bintan Pura (Tanjung Pinang), Lobam and Bandar Bentan Telani/Lagoi (Bintan Resorts) are visa-free and visa-on-arrival points of entry.
As of July 2010 a 7-day visa-on-arrival at 10 US$ per person is available again for groups of 4 people or more. This visa is valid for visits to the special economic zone of Bintan / Batam / Karimum only and must be applied via the local hotel or tour agent in advance.