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Riau Islands Province (Indonesian: Provinsi Kepulauan Riau (Kepri or Riau Kepulauan) consists of the Riau Archipelago, Natuna Islands, Anambas, and Lingga Islands.




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.

As a result of the Anglo-Dutch treaty the Sultan of  Riau-Lingga settled on Lingga and his Viceroy at his stronghold in Riau. The State of Riau-Lingga however was extinguished in 1911 and Lingga became a district of the Residence of Riau and Dependencies (Riouw en Onderhoorigheden) under direct Dutch Rule and its successor the Indonesian Republic.

The Riau Islands were split off from Riau Province as a separate province in July 2004 with Tanjung Pinang as its capital, located at south of Bintan island.




As the last sultan has destroyed his palace before he took refuge to Singapore, little is known about its early national and royal emblems. According to muslim tradition however, these could have been a sun (the empire), a crescent (the state) and a star (the ruler). The flag of the sultan was white, the emblem of the last sultan, worn on his headdress as a kind of sarpech, consisted of a crescent and five-pointed star (head of state).



Flag of the Sultan  [1]


ğ See also: Provinsi Riau


In the time of Dutch Rule the achievement of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was used and later the achievement of the Indonesian Republic. This was succeeded by the arms of Riau Province. The present emblem of Kepulauan Riau is:


Emblem: A sailing vessel Or, its sail Argent, carrying a keris per pale Or, its hilt Sable, surrounded by a garland of rice and cotton issuing from a sirih dish Gules, on a base wavy Argent and Azure; in chief the name of the province PROVINSI KEPALAUAN RIAU in white lettering

Backshield: Azure, a bordure Vert, charged with a chain of 32 shakles Sable

Motto: BERPANCANG AMANAH BERSAUH MARWAH (With Trust as Foundation and Dignity as the Anchor) in black lettering on a scroll Or.


ğ See illustration in the head of this essay










Today Kepalauan Riau is controlled by

Kodam I/Bukit Barisan



The arms show, on a disk on the usual shield per bend sinister Or and Sable, a sailing vessel on five waves of the sea before Barelang bridge, a sirih dish and two fruited mango leaves.



The Tengku Fisabilillah bridge connects Batam and Tonton island. It stretches for 642 meters and is the most popular bridge of all, being a cable-stayed bridge with two 199 m high pylons and a main span of 350 m.


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© Hubert de Vries 2010-11-10

[1] ) Rühl, Dirk: Vlaggen van den Oost-Indischen Archipel (1600-1942). In: Jaarboek van het Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie. Dl. VI, 1952. pp. 136-148.


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