Great Karimun (Karimun Besar in Indonesian) or just Karimun is one of the islands in the Riau Islands province of Indonesia. It lies about 37 km southwest of Singapore, and 54 km west of Batam, and 24 km northeast of Rangsang Island.
In the past, Karimun was the destination of foreign traders and the Malay Kings. Stamford Raffles is believed to have considered Karimun island instead of Singapore island when looking for a settlement.
The island's main city is Tanjung Balai Karimun. As of 2011, the regency of Karimun had a population of 272,985 with majority of the people lives in the Great Karimun. Notable landmarks on the island include Mount Jantan, the beaches of Pelawan and Pongkar, and the Pongkar Waterfall.
The island has strategic geographical importance, as it is near the Straits of Malacca, an international shipping route. As the island strategical location at the border of Singapore and Johor (in Malaysia), Karimun being a part of the Riau Islands also in the SIJORI Growth Triangle partnership. SIJORI (Singapore-Johor-Riau Islands) Growth Triangle is a strategic partnership among Singapore, Johor and Riau Islands that combine the individual and collective strength to improve the subregion attractiveness to investors from both the region and international. SIJORI links the infrastructure, capital, expertise and rich culture of Singapore with the natural resources, lands and labour resources of Johor and Riau Islands.
However, due to the stronger tie of Singapore and Malaysia, Karimun is losing out its economic attraction for Singaporean investments. Another reason for the losing out is the lack of an adequate infrastructure in Karimun especially electricity supply and the lack of transparency in the government administration.
Due to large scale indiscriminate fishing activity near the island recently, fish stocks have been depleted, and thus the fishing businesses have declined considerably.
The main export of the island is its granite which is one of the best quality in the world.
Sand has also been constantly exported, mainly to Singapore for land reclamation. Indonesian concern at Singapore reclamation projects has however limited sand exports, and banned them outright in the beginning of 2007. Singapore now faces a crisis with many upcoming building developments.
Free Trade Zone
On 29 June 2007 the Indonesian government conferred enclave Free Trade Zone status on Karimun; a move intended to address the issue of legal certainty for investors.
Under the plan Karimun will be turned into shipyard, metal, component, agricultural, and marine produce industrial development centres.
- Little Karimun, a smaller island just northeast of Great Karimun
- Karimun Jawa, an unrelated archipelago off the north coast of Java
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