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The People & Culture

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The native people of Batam are Malay origin, but with the rapid growth and development of the area various ethnic groups from all over Indonesia has come here in search for jobs and a better life. Traditionally, most of the people live in coastal villages, while the "Orang Laut" (sea people) continues to live on boathouses and boats and generally fish for a living. Some of their catches are sold to Singapore. 'Bahasa Indonesia' is the language used to communicate among the multi-ethnic population here, while many now also understand English, which is commonly used in business communication.

Culture
Even if Batam is multi-ethnic it is still the Malayan culture and Islam, which forms the root of the local culture. Both daily life and the ceremonies have religious and mythical elements, expressed in dance, music and other forms of art. Some of the most popular traditional dances are Jogi Dance, unique for Batam, Zapin Dance, which reflects strong Arabic influence, Persembahan Dance, to welcome honored guests and Ronggeng Dance, where the guests can be invited to come up and join the dance and song.The Mak Yong drama is a dance and song performance, which tells the story about a country named "Riuh", commonly believed to be the origin of Riau province name. This country is governed by a wise and popular king, who one day to his surprise and embarrassment is told that his princess have given birth to an animal called "Siput Gondang" (the gondang snail). Upset by this event he orders the newborn to be expelled to the jungle. A couple of years later he is told that the snail has begun to grow, and he asks for the snail to be brought to the Royal Palace where the shell is broken. To his surprise and joy he can see a beautiful princess appear from the broken shell, and he names her Putri Siput Gondang (Princess Siput Gondang), celebrations are then held for seven days and seven nights.

But also other cultures contribute to the Batam community, and in the "Padepokan Seni" art center in Sekupang we can see arts and crafts from all over Indonesia, as well as various kinds of performances, which are staged every day for the visitors and tourists. Another art center in Sekupang is "Desa Seni", Indonesian art village, which main objective is to "maintain, conserve and develop the Indonesian culture", and also to manage the Cultural Institute where qualified instructors conduct various shows and courses.

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