Selat panjang which is one of the 21,000 islands of Indonesia is located south of Singapore within the province of Riau. It is a small but interesting island. My maternal great-grandfather first arrived here from Thittacherry village of Tamil Nadu state in India, in late 19th century and traded in spices and textiles. He later started 38 businesses and invited his children, relatives and friends to join him. Until 1970s everyone remained till some political instabilites caused undue anxiety amongst them to flee to India. The island remains beautiful, laid back and friendly today. The large Islamic island of Muslim inhabitants live in harmony with the significantly large chinese community of merchants. The island’s main activities are fishing, agriculture, timber and retail. This island is rather safe, islanders are very close knit, warm and friendly. However one must be mindful during the transit cities(islands) of batam and tanjong balai karimun.
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