Pedra Branca

Being the furthest eastern point of Singapore, the Pedra Branca Island was for a long time known as a notorious shipwreck island. The name of the island is Portuguese and really fitting on the island meaning “white rocks”.

Pedra Branca does not have any touristic value yet it has been causing long years of conflict and arguments between Singapore and Malaysia. The island is the furthest lying island of Singapore located 54 kilometres from the city. The role of Pedra Blanca this way is somehow similar to that of Cape Verde Islands have on the Pacific Ocean. Pedra Branca is an approximately 8,560 square metres, which during the low tide has its maximum length at 137 metres. The island lies on the border of South China Sea and Singapore Strait. Two Malaysian islets, one of which is only visible during the low tide, surround the island.

Pedra Branca is a very hard place for ships as its underlying reef is quite big; therefore, it has caused numerous shipwrecks which did not only result with the loss of the ships but also in the loss of high quantity and high value goods taken by the many Silk Road ships toward all the nearby and further continents. Therefore, it has become more and more important that this rocky island should be shown on the maps as an area to avoid. Pedra Branca first shown and enlisted as a seriously dangerous area for boats by the Portugal sailor maps made in the 14th century. Yet no steps were taken to make the island more visible also in the night only much later.

Being on the border also meant several battles for the ownership of these islets, Pedra Branca used to be lying in the territory of the Johore Sultanate originally but the full area of the sea has belonged under the British Empire’s control. The Johor Sultanate was created under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty signed between the British Empire and the Netherlands. In 1953, Johore stated that they do not declare ownership over Pedra Blanca Island and thanks to a Singapore issued map, which showed that the island is located on their waters Singapore declared the ownership over the rocky island together with the two former Malaysian islands that lie close to it. This edged in an altogether 29 year long sovereignty battle against Malaysia. The two countries have established a so-called Joint Technical Committee especially for their island and water issues and the current state of several islands is still unsure.

The most important installation on Pedra Branca that is also called Pulau Batu Puteh or Batu Puteh is the Horsburgh Lighthouse built in order to avoid the island from far because of the increased danger its low-lying rocks mean for all the boats that want to get closer to it.

The Pedra Branca Island is not the island for tourists to visit; even if you do, there would be not much to do there, and it is still a very heavily sailable area because of the reefs, which ships prefer to avoid. Pedra Branca acts as the eastern border of Singapore.

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