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Tidore is in the Maluku Islandsmarker of eastern Indonesiamarker, west of the larger island of Halmaheramarker. It is a city, island, and archipelago. In the pre-colonial era, the kingdom of Tidore was a major regional political and economic power, and a fierce rival of nearby Ternatemarker, just to the north.

Tidore island

Tidore island off of central Halmahera, just south of Ternate
It consists of a large stratovolcano which rises from the seafloor to an elevation of above sea level at the conical Kiematabu Peak on the south end of the island. The northern side of the island contains a caldera, Sabale, with two smaller volcanic cones within it.


The island constitutes a municipality (kotamadya) within the province of North Maluku. The municipality covers an area of 1,550 square kilometres (598 square miles) and had an estimated population of 78,617 in July 2003.

The municipality covers 2 larger islands, Oba and Tidore. It is divided into 5 sub-districts (kecematan), namely Oba, Oba Utara, Tidore, South Tidore, and North Tidore.


The sultans of Tidore ruled most of southern Halmahera, and, at times, controlled Burumarker, Ambonmarker and many of the islands off the coast of New Guineamarker. Tidore established a loose alliance with the Spanishmarker in the sixteenth century, and Spain had several forts on the island. While there was much mutual distrust between the Tidorese and the Spaniards, for Tidore the Spanish presence was helpful in resisting incursions by their Dutch enemy on Ternate, as well as their Dutchmarker ally, that had a fort on that island.

Before the Spanish withdrawal from Tidore and Ternate in 1663, Tidore became one of the most independent kingdoms in the region, resisting direct control by Dutch East India Company (VOC). Particularly under Sultan Saifuddin (r. 1657-1689), the Tidore court was skilled at using Dutch payment for spices for gifts to strengthen traditional ties with Tidore's traditional periphery. As a result he was widely respected by many local populations, and had little need to call on the Dutch for military help in governing the kingdom, as Ternate frequently did.

Tidore remained an independent kingdom, albeit with frequent Dutch interference, until the late eighteenth century. Like Ternate, Tidore allowed the Dutch spice eradication program (extirpatie) to proceed in its territories. This program, intended to strengthen the Dutch spice monopoly by limiting production to a few places, impoverished Tidore and weakened its control over its periphery.


  • Andaya, Leonard Y. 1993. The world of Maluku: eastern Indonesia in the early modern period. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1490-8.

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