Pekanbaru is the capital of Riau Province and is the third largest city on the island of Sumatra, after Medan in the North and Palembang in South Sumatra. A large and clean city, Pekanbaru is better known as a business city for its exports of crude oil, palm oil, and pulp and paper. It is cut from west to east by the Siak river, which serves as river transport.
In the old days, the town was a main trade and distribution hub for commodities and goods that include coffee and coal produced in the highlands of the Minangkabau in West Sumatra, to be carried to the busy trading ports along the Straits of Malacca.
The palace of the Sultan of Siak also lies at the mouth of the Siak river by the Straits of Malacca in the town of Siak Sri Indrapura, some 130 km. northwest of Pekanbaru.
Lately the Riau province has come into international limelight when UK’s Steve King broke his own world record by surfing up the Kampar river on the Bono bore, covering the length of 20.65 km (12.8 miles) in 1 hour and 4 minutes, setting a new World Record for the Longest, Continuous Bore Ride.
Also by the Kampar Kanan river In a jungle clearing are the ruins of the enigmatic 9th century Muara Takus Buddhist temple complex. Muara Takus lies 122 km. from Pekanbaru.
At Indonesia’s Independence in 1945, Riau was one with its neighbouring province of the Riau Islands, situated south of Singapore and Malaysia. Together they formed part of the larger Johore-Riau kingdom. Today, Pekanbaru is capital of that part that lies on the larger island of Sumatra only, that is known as the province of Riau, while the town of Tanjung Pinang on Bintan island is capital of the Riau Islands province , which include among others, Batam, Bintan, Karimun and the Natuna islands.
Around Pekanbaru you will find miles of palm oil plantations, and a number of oil drillings in Dumai and Rumbai. The town also has a number of manicured Gof courses and boasts a large Sports Center.
Because of its history, Pekanbaru is a cosmopolitan city inhabited by a number of ethnic groups, including Malays, Minangkabau and a sizeable Chinese population.