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In the 1970s, the island underwent a major transformation from a largely forested area into a major harbor and industrial zone. The population drastically grew from a few thousand in the 1960s into hundreds of thousands. Located close to Singapore and endowed with a much cheaper labour force, several Singaporean companies have established factories in Batam.
The official language on the island is Indonesian, but due to the sizeable Chinese population, Chinese dialects like Teochew and Mandarin are somewhat widely spoken. Apart from industrial zones, the islands have several resorts and tourist destinations.