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Belitung Island

Tanjung Pandan - Belitung, Indonesia

Belitung though not yet as popular as Bali or Lombok in fact possesses some of South East Asia’s finest beaches, as well as offering refreshing sea breeze, clean sea water and easy to access as only about 400 km North of Jakarta or 500 km South of Singapore. It is only less than one-hour flight from Jakarta. When there will be direct flight from Singapore it will the less that 90 minutes’ flight.

Belitung island is one of the two large islands and several small islands belong to Bangka Belitung Province or local shorten as BABEL Province. It is the 31st province of Indonesia separated from North Sumatera since 2001. Before Bangka and Belitung belongs to South Sumatera Province following the history of 7th Century Srivijayan stone inscription testifies those two island links with Palembang. During the era of 14th to 17th centuries the area including Palembang managed under Javanese influence.

Bangka and Belitung are two verdant islands lying in the placid South China Sea to the east of Sumatera. Geologically Bangka and Belitung are more closely related to Malaya and Borneo that the Sumatera – forming part of the older, non-volcanic core of Sunda Shelf.

There are several different ways of writing concerning the name of this island, before the Dutch occupation people wrote as Belitong, during the Dutch era it was written as Billiton as also written in English way, after our independence it should be written as Belitung and now during the era of millennium people write as anyway but officially it is written as Belitung.


Bangka Belitung and Palembang had been noticed overseas at least already since the 7th century, the name Shri Vijaya Kingdom with the city called Shri Bhoja (or Sri Boja) had been visited by I-Tsing a 7th century Chinese Buddhist pilgrim who has left behind an account of his travels to India. In between the year of 671-673 on his sailing journey from China to India. Later from 685 to 689 he stayed in Shri Vijaya Kingdom for 5 years he devoted himself to the translation of Buddhist Sanskrit texts.

At least until 1710 there were already transaction of sea, forest and iron products were the island’s principle export controlled by the Sultan through the Chinese Moslem agents living of the island.

Then in 1710 they found tin deposits in Bangka and Belitung make these two Islands become the tin producers. The Sultan abandoned attempts to work the mines with local recruits and began bringing in coolies from China. The early coolies were mainly hardy, hark-working Hakka from a mountainous Guangdong Province. Ingenious Chinese mining technique increased production and the Chinese soon organized themselves into cooperatives (kongsi) which developed new mines managed labors, smelted and sold the ore and shared the profits.

Those Hakka Chinese most of them stayed and married with local women once their contracts were up, and Hakka displaced Malay as the main language in the mining communities. The decedents, the local born Chinese or Peranakan Chinese or Chinese Huáqiáo live much the same way as local people.

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