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Topography of Belitung island
|Location||South East Asia|
|Area||4,800.6 km2 (1,853.5 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||500 m (1,600 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Tajam|
|Largest city||Tanjung Pandan|
|Population||262,357 (as of 2010)|
|Density||54.65 /km2 (141.54 /sq mi)|
Belitung (or in English, Billiton) is an island on the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia in the Java Sea. The island is known for its pepper and for its tin. It was in the possession of the British from 1812 until the British ceded control of the island to the Dutch in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. Its main town is Tanjung Pandan.
It is a medium sized island of about 1,840 square miles (4,800 km2), it consists of moderately rugged terrain with several hills. The highest one is Mount Tajam with the height of only less than 500 meters (1,600 ft). Belitung is bordered by the Gaspar Strait, the South China Sea and the Java Sea. Its turquoise blue sea is moderately calm and shallow, making for great sailing, snorkeling and swimming. Belitung is popular for its abstract granite boulders and brilliant white sand beaches in Tanjung Tinggi, Tanjung Kelayang, Tanjung Binga and Lengkuas island.
The population is centered in several small towns, populated by approximately 262,000 inhabitants. The largest are Tanjung Pandan in the west and Manggar in the east, which are the respective capitals of the two Regencies (Belitung and Belitung Timur) into which the island is administratively divided. While ethnic Malays people make up the largest percentage, Belitung has large populations of Bugis, Sundanese, and ethnic Chinese people who formerly worked for the Dutch, mining tin. There are also sizeable populations of Balinese and Maduranese who were settled there in the Suharto era transmigration.
Belitung is a source of tin, clay, iron ore and silica sands. The Dutch mining company NV Billiton Maatschappij derives its name from the island's name. Billiton merged with BHP in 2001 to form the largest diversified resources company, BHP Billiton. The island is also a producer of fishery products, pepper, coconut, and palm oil. People work as farmers, fishermen and miners. The island is easily accessible with 4 daily 50-minute flights from Jakarta. Due to the fantastic white sand beaches and picturesque offshore islands, tourism is starting to become a larger part of the local economy.
The mainly tourist destinations are beaches and offshore islands/islets. The beaches are Tanjung Tinggi Beach and Tanjung Kelayang Beach which both have blue clear water, sand and rocky beaches. The islands/islets are Batu Berlayar Island which full of granite, Pasir Island which is made of sand (= pasir in Indonesian language) and submerged during high tide, Bird Islet (Pulau Burong, which can be accessed from Tanjung Binga beach by walking on at low tide), Lengkuas Island (which is the home of a 129-year-old lighthouse and a good place for snorkeling), Babi Island and Kelayang Islet.