is the third largest island in the world
and is located at the centre of Maritime Southeast Asia
Indonesians refer to the entire island as Kalimantan
usually refer to the island by the names of either of its two
Malaysian states, Sarawak and Sabah.
independent nation of Brunei occupies the
remainder of the island.
surrounded by the South China
Sea to the north and northwest, the Sulu Sea to the
northeast, the Celebes
Sea and the Makassar Strait to the east and the Java Sea and Karimata Strait to the south.
It has an area of .
west of Borneo are the Malay
Peninsula and Sumatra.
south is Java.
east is the island of Sulawesi . To the northeast is the Philippines.
highest point is Mount
Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, with an elevation of above sea level.
This makes it the world's
largest river systems are the Kapuas
River, with approximately the longest river in Indonesia, the
Rajang River in Sarawak with some the
longest river in Malaysia, the Barito
River about long and the Mahakam River about long.
Borneo is also known for its extensive cave systems. Clearwater
Cave has one of the world's longest underground rivers.
Deer Cave, thought to be the largest cave passage in the
world, is home to over three million bats and
guano accumulated to over high.
The following is a list of urban areas in Borneo by population
based on 2008 calculations compiled by The World Gazetteer
||Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
||Bandar Seri Begawan
Political divisions of Borneo
The island of Borneo is divided administratively into 3 parts, the
only island in the world that is a recognised part of 3 countries:
Brunei: Census of Population 2001
strictly speaking not on Borneo, but on nearshore
islands (2.5 km off the main island of Borneo)
According to ancient Chinese, Indian and Javanese manuscripts,
western coastal cities of Borneo had become trading ports, part of
their trade routes, since the first millennium. In Chinese
, lakawood (a scented
heartwood and root wood of a thick liana
, edible bird's nests
and various spices were among the
most valuable items from Borneo. The Indians named Borneo as
Suvarnabhumi (the land of gold) and also
Karpuradvipa (the Camphor Island), which includes the
western part of the island shared with Sumatra island.
named Borneo as Puradvipa
, or the Diamond Island.
Archaeological findings in the delta river of
Sarawak reveal that
the area was once a thriving trading centre between India and China
from the 6th century until about 1300
AD. One of the earliest evidence of Hindu
influence in Southeast Asia were
stone pillars which bears inscriptions in the Pallava script found in Kutai along the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan dated around the second half of the 4th century
In the fourteenth century, almost all coastal part of Borneo were
under the control of Majapahit kingdom
is written in Javanese Nagarakretagama
document (circa 1365 AD) and
it was called Nusa Tanjungnagara
. The name of a trading
port city in Borneo is Tanjungpura
in Nagarakretagama; the
same name written in another Javanese Pararaton
document (circa 1355 AD).
In the 15th century
, the Majapahit
rule exerted its influence in Borneo.
Princess Junjung Buih, the queen of the Hindu kingdom of Negara
Dipa (situated in Candi Agung area of Amuntai) married a Javanese
prince, Prince Suryanata, and together they ruled the kingdom which
is a tributary to the Majapahit Empire (1365). In this way, it
became a part of Nusantara
. Along the way,
the power of Negara Dipa weakened and was replaced by the new court
of Negara Daha. When Prince Samudra (Prince Suriansyah) of Negara
Daha converted to Islam and formed the Islamic kingdom of Banjar,
it inherited some of the areas previously ruled by the Hindu
kingdom of Negara Daha.
Brunei Sultanate during its golden age from the 15th to 17th
centuries ruled a large part of northern Borneo.
(other sources say 1658), the Sultanate
received North Borneo from the Sultan of Brunei, after
Sulu sent aid against a rebellion in Brunei. During the 1450s,
Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab born in Johor, arrived in
Sulu from Malacca. In 1457, he founded the Sultanate of Sulu; he
then renamed himself "Paduka Maulana Mahasari Sharif Sultan Hashem
Abu Bakr". Subsequently HM Sultan Jamalul Ahlam Kiram
(1863-1881) the 29th reigning Sultan of Sulu leased North Borneo in
1878 to Gustavus Baron de Overbeck & Alfred Dent representing
the British North Borneo
Company in what is now Sabah part of
The company also exerted control on inland
territories that were inhabited by numerous tribes. In the 19th century coastal areas ruled by the
Sultanate in the west of the island were gradually taken by
the Brooke dynasty. The Brooke dynasty
ruled Sarawak for a
hundred years and became famous as the "White Rajahs".
18th century, the area from Sambas to Berau were tributaries
to the Banjar Kingdom, but this eventually shrunk to the size of
what is now South
Kalimantan as a result of agreements with the Dutch.
In the Karang Intan Agreement during the
reign of Prince Nata Dilaga (Susuhunan Nata Alam) (1808-1825), the
Banjar Kingdom gave up its territories to the Dutch Indies which
included Bulungan, Kutai
, Pasir, Pagatan and
Kotawaringin. Other territories given up to the Dutch Indies were
Landak, Sambas, Sintang and Sukadana.
early-19th century, British and Dutch governments signed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 to
exchange trading ports under their controls and assert spheres of
influences, in which indirectly set apart the two parts of Borneo
into British and Dutch controlled areas. China has had
historical trading links with the inhabitants of the island.
Some of the Chinese beads and wares found their way deep into the
interior of Borneo. The Malay
and Sea Dayak
pirates preyed on maritime
shipping in the waters between Singapore and Hong Kong from their
haven in Borneo. In 1849 James Brooke
and his Malays attacked the Sea-Dayaks and wiped out 800 of the
Moreover in the 19th century
, the Dutch
admitted the founding of district kingdoms with native leaders who
were under the power of the Dutch (Indirect Bestuur
Dutch assign a resident to head their rule over Kalimantan. List of
the residents and governors of Kalimantan:
1938, Dutch-Borneo (Kalimantan) was one administrative territory
under a governor (Governor Haga) whose seat was in Banjarmasin.
- C.A. Kroesen (1898), resident
- C.J. Van Kempen (1924), resident
- J. De Haan (1924-1929), resident
- R. Koppenel (1929-1931), resident
- W.G. Morggeustrom (1933-1937), resident
- Dr. A. Haga (1938-1942), governor
- Pangeran Musa Ardi Kesuma (1942-1945), Ridzie
- Ir. Pangeran Muhammad Noor (1945), governor
In 1957 following the independence of
Indonesia, Kalimantan was divided into 3 provinces which is South
Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and West Kalimantan. The province of
Central Kalimantan separated from South Kalimantan to have their
own territory in 1958.
During the Second World War
forces gained control of Borneo (1941–45). They decimated many
local populations and Malay intellectuals, including the
elimination of the Malay Sultanate of Sambas
. During the Japanese
occupation the Dayaks played a role in guerilla warfare against the
occupying forces, particularly in the Kapit Division where headhunting
was temporarily revived towards the
end of the war. Borneo was the main site of the confrontation between
Indonesia and Malaysia between 1962 and 1966, as well as the communist revolts to gain control of the whole
area. Before the formation of Malaysian
Federation, the Philippines claimed that the Malaysian state of Sabah in north Borneo is within their territorial rights
based on historical facts of the Sultanate of Sulu's leasing
agreement with the North Borneo Company, is presently an unresolved
claim against Malaysia. Several other territorial claims such as
Sipadan were resolved at The Hague international
Borneo is very rich in biodiversity
compared to many other areas (MacKinnon et al. 1998). There are
about 15,000 species of flowering
with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps
), 221 species of terrestrial
mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo (MacKinnon et
al. 1998). It is also the centre of evolution and radiation of many
endemic species of plants and animals. The remaining Borneo
is the only natural habitat
for the endangered
. It is also an
important refuge for many endemic
forest species, as the Asian
, the Sumatran
, the Bornean
, and the Dayak Fruit
.It is one of the most biodiverse places on earth. The
World Wildlife Fund
that 361 animal and plant species have been discovered in Borneo
since 1996, underscoring its unparalleled biodiversity. In the 18
month period from July 2005 until December 2006, another 52 new
species were found.
Satellite image of the island of
Borneo on August 19, 2002, showing smoke from burning peat swamp
The World Wildlife Fund
the island into seven distinct ecoregions
The Borneo lowland rain
cover most of the island, with an area of . Other
lowland ecoregions are the Borneo peat swamp forests
or Sundaland heath
forests, the Southwest Borneo
freshwater swamp forests
, and the Sunda Shelf mangroves
. The Borneo
mountain rain forests lie in the central highlands of the island,
above the elevation. The highest elevations of Mount
Kinabalu are home to
the Kinabalu mountain alpine meadow,
an alpine shrubland notable for its numerous endemic species,
including many orchids.
The island historically had extensive rainforest
cover, but the area shrank rapidly due
to heavy logging
for the needs of the
Malaysian plywood industry. Two forestry
researchers of Sepilok Research Centre
, Sandakan, Sabah in the early
'80s identified four fast-growing hardwoods and a breakthrough on
seed collection and handling of Acacia
and Gmelina arborea
fast growing tropical trees were planted on huge tract of formerly
logged and deforested areas primarily in the northern part of
Borneo Island. Half of the annual global tropical timber
acquisition comes from
Borneo. Furthermore, Palm oil
are rapidly encroaching on the last remnants of primary rainforest.
The rainforest was also greatly destroyed from the forest fires of
1997 to 1998, which were started by the locals to clear the forests
for crops and perpetuated by an exceptionally dry El Niño
season during that period. During the great
fire, hotspots could be seen on satellite images and the haze thus created affected the surrounding countries of
Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
In February 2008, the Malaysian government
announced the Sarawak Corridor of
plan to harvest the virgin hinterlands of
Northern Borneo. Further deforestation and destruction of the
biodiversity are anticipated in the wake of logging commissions,
hydroelectric dams and other mining of minerals and
to combat overpopulation and AIDS in Java, the
Indonesian government started a massive transmigration (transmigrasi) of poor farmers and landless
peasants into Borneo in the 70's and 80's, to farm the logged
areas, albeit with little success as the fertility of the land has
been removed with the trees and what soil remains is washed away in
Borneo has 15,721,384 inhabitants (January 2005) and thus a
population density of 16 inhabitants per km. The population lives
mainly on the coast, furthermore in the cities. The hinterland is
occupied at most in small towns and villages along the rivers. The
population consists mainly of Malays
ethnic groups. The Chinese,
who make up 29% of the population of Sarawak and 17% of
total population in West Kalimantan, originally migrated from southeastern
The majority of the population in Kalimantan is
animism. Approximately 15% of the Dayak are Christian, a religion
introduced by missionaries in the 19th Century. In the interior of
Borneo are also the Penan
, some of who still
practice a nomadic hunter-gatherer
existence. In some coastal areas of marginal settlements are also
, who were historically associated
with a sea-oriented, boat-dwelling, nomadic existence. In the
northwest of Borneo, the Dayak ethnic group is represented by the
with about 710,000 members.
There are over 30 Dayak sub-ethnic
living in Borneo, making the population of this island
one of the most varied of human social
. Some sub-ethnicities are now represented by only 30-100
individuals and are threatened with extinction. Ancestral knowledge
is useful in drug discovery (for
plant for AIDS
) or as future alternative food sources (such as
starch for lactic
production and sago maggots as a protein source). Certain
indigenous Dayak people (such as the Kayan
, Punan Bah
) living on the island have been
struggling for decades for their right to preserve their
environment from loggers and transmigrant settlers and
Kalimantan was the focus for an intense transmigration program
the relocation of poor landless families from Java, Madura, and
Bali. In 2000, transmigrants made up 21% of the population in
. Since the
1990s, violent conflict
between some transmigrant and indigenous populations; in
Kalimantan, thousands were killed in fighting between Madurese transmigrants
indigenous Dayak people.
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