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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Economy of Weh Island economy on Weh Island is dominated by agriculture. The main products are cloves and coconuts. Small-scale fisheries operate in the area, and fishermen have used explosives and cyanide fishing extensively. Therefore since 1982, a wildlife protection area (suaka alam) has been declared by the Indonesian government that includes 34 square kilometres (13 sq mi) inland and 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi) of surrounding sea.
The two main cities are Sabang and Balohan. Balohan is a ferry port that serves as a hub between the island and Banda Aceh on the mainland Sumatra. Sabang has been an important quay since the late nineteenth century, because the city overlooks the entry to a busy shipping route, Malacca Strait.
Before the Suez Canal was opened in 1869, the Indonesian archipelago was reached via the Sunda Strait from Africa. From the Suez Canal, the route to Indonesia is shorter via the Malacca Strait. Due to its natural harbour with relatively deep and well sheltered water, the Dutch East Indies government decided to open Sabang as a quay. In 1883, Sabang quay was opened for ships to dock by the Atjeh Associate. At first, the harbour was intended as a coal station for the Dutch navy, but later also served merchant vessels and for the transfer of export goods from northern Sumatra.
Each year, 50,000 vessels pass through Malacca Strait. In 2000, the Indonesian government declared Sabang a Free Trade Zone and Free Port, to gain economic benefit by establishing the port as a logistic hub for international vessels passing through the strait. Infrastructures for a deep water harbour, port, warehousing and refuelling facilities, were developed.
Weh Island is served by the Maimun Saleh Airport located in Sabang. Currently there is no airlines serving that airport. Thus, the nearest airport to get into Sabang is the Sultan Iskandarmuda Airport which is located at Banda Aceh. From the airport of Banda Aceh, it's about a half hour drive to Ulee Lheu, close to the center of Banda Aceh, from where the ferries to Balohan (Pulau Weh's ferry harbour) are leaving.
Weh Island is also known for ecotourism. Underwater diving, hiking through the volcanic mountain and beach resorts are the main attractions. A small village, Iboih, is known as a location for scuba diving. A few meters from Iboih is the Rubiah islet that is known for its coral reefs. There are also several dive operators in Gapang.


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