Riau Islands Province
|Riau Islands Province
Provinsi Kepulauan Riau
|— Province —|
|Motto: Berpancang Amanah Bersauh Marwah (Malay)
(With trust as foundation, and dignity as the anchor)
|• Total||8,201.72 km2 (3,166.70 sq mi)|
|• Density||210/km2 ( 530/sq mi)|
|• Ethnic groups||Malays (35,6%), Javanese (22,2%), Chinese (9,3%), Minangkabau (9,3%), Batak (8,1%), Buginese (2,2%), Banjarese (0,7%) |
|• Religion||Islam (79.34%), Protestantism (11.17%), Buddhist (6.65%), Roman Catholicism (2.28%), Confucianism (0.2%), Hinduism (0.09%)|
|• Languages||Malay , Chinese|
|Time zone||WIT (UTC+07)|
Riau Islands Province (acronym: Kepri) is the fastest growing province of Indonesia by population, consisting of the principal group of the Riau Archipelago, together with other island groups to the south, east and northeast. In Indonesian, Riau Islands and Riau Archipelago are synonymous and can only be distinguished by the word for province, "Provinsi".
Originally part of the Riau province, the Riau Islands were split off as a separate province in July 2004.
Geography and population 
The island of Batam, which lies within the central core group of islands (the Riau Archipelago), contains a majority of the province's population; since becoming part of a Special Economic Zone with Singapore in 2006, it has experienced high population growth rates. Other highly populated islands within the Riau Archipelago include Bintan and Karimun, while the archipelago also includes islands such as Bulan and Kundur. There are around 3,200 islands in the province, which has its capital located at Tanjung Pinang in the south of Bintan Island. The province also includes the Lingga Islands to the south of the main Riau Archipelago, while to the northeast lies the Tudjuh Archipelago, located between Borneo and mainland Malaysia; the Tudjuh Archipelago consists of four distinct groups of islands - the Anambas Islands, Natuna Islands, Tambelan islands and Badas Islands - which were also attached to the new province, although they were not geographically part of the Riau Archipelago.
The language of the Riau Islands is known as Riau Malay. The Riau Islands are considered the birthplace of the modern Malay language, though it was the classical Malaccan Malay of the Johor court rather than Riau Malay that formed the basis of the standard language.
From Srivijayan times until the 16th century, Riau was a natural part of greater Malay kingdoms or sultanates, in the heart of what is often called the Malay World, which stretches from eastern Sumatra to Borneo. The Malay-related Orang Laut tribes inhabited the islands and formed the backbone of most Malay kingdoms from Srivijaya to the Johor Sultanate for the control of trade routes going through the straits.
After the fall of Melaka in 1511, the Riau islands became the center of political power of the mighty Sultanate of Johor or Johor-Riau, based on Bintan Island, and were for long considered the center of Malay culture.
But history changed the fate of Riau as a political, cultural or economic center when European powers struggled to control the regional trade routes and took advantage of political weaknesses within the sultanate. Singapore island, that had been for centuries part of the same greater Malay kingdoms and sultanates, and under direct control of the Sultan of Johor, came under control of the British.
The creation of a European-controlled territory in the heart of the Johor-Riau natural boundaries broke the sultanate into two parts, destroying the cultural and political unity that had existed for centuries. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 consolidated this separation, with the British controlling all territories north of the Singapore strait and the Dutch controlling territories from Riau to Java.
After the European powers withdrew from the region, the new independent governments had to reorganize and find balance after inheriting 100 years of colonial boundaries. Before finding their current status, the territories of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Borneo struggled and even came into military conflict against each other, and the Riau islands once again found themselves in the middle of a regional struggle.
The strong cultural unity of the region with Riau in the heart of this region never returned, and the line drawn by the British in 1819 remained, dividing the area into three new countries in 1965: Singapore, the Malaysian federation in the north, and Indonesia in the south.
Some level of unity returned in the Riau region for the first time after 150 years, with the creation of the Sijori Growth Triangle in 1989. But while bringing back some economical wealth to Riau, the Sijori Growth Triangle somewhat further broke the cultural unity within the islands. With Batam island receiving most of the industrial investments and dramatically developing into a regional industrial center, it attracted hundreds of thousands of non-Malay Indonesian migrants, changing forever the demographic balance in the archipelago.
There have been various attempts at both independence and autonomy for this part of Indonesia since the founding of Indonesia in 1945.
Administrative division 
This province is divided into five regencies (kabupaten) and two cities (kota), listed below with their (provisional) populations at the 2010 Census:
|Batam (city)||1,010.88||455,103||949,775||Batam||includes Bulan, Galang and Rempang islands,
as well as all of Batam Island
|Tanjung Pinang (city)||153.66||142,929||187,687||Tanjung Pinang||on Bintan Island|
|Bintan Regency||1,335.08||110,068||142,382||Bandar Seri Bentan|
|Karimun Regency||920.64||171,405||212,812||Tanjung Balai||including Karimun and Kundur Islands|
|Lingga Regency||2,205.95||79,451||86,230||Daik||covering the Lingga Islands|
|Anambas Islands Regency
- Central Bureau of Statistics: Census 2010, retrieved 17 January 2011 (Indonesian)
- Kepulauan Riau, Keberagaman Identitas dalam Kesatuan Kultur. http://epaper.kompas.com. February 6, 2009.
- Sneddon 2003, "The Indonesian Language: Its History and Role in Modern Society", p. 70
- The Riau Islands and economic cooperation in the Singapore Indonesian border zone Karen Peachey, Martin Perry, Carl Grundy-Warr, Clive H Schofield, University of Durham. International Boundaries Research Unit, illustrated, IBRU, 1997, ISBN 1-897643-27-6, ISBN 978-1-897643-27-3, pg. 6-10
- paper on the Riau Independence movement
- Riau Islands Province travel guide from Wikivoyage