Thursday, July 26, 2007

About Borneo

From Wikipedia. Edited by Malaysiana1.

Borneo is the third largest island in the world. It has an area of 743,330 square km and is located at the centre of the Malay Archipelago. Borneo is considered part of Southeast Asia. Administratively, this island is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

In Indonesia, Borneo is called Kalimantan.

Borneo is surrounded by the South China Sea to the north and northwest, the Sulu Sea to the northeast, the Sulawesi (Celebes) Sea and the Makassar Strait to the east, and the Java Sea and the Karimata Strait to the south.

To the west of Borneo are the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. To the south is Java. To the east is the island of Sulawesi. To the northeast is the Philippines.

Borneo's highest point is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, at 4,097 m above sea level. This makes it the world's third highest island.

The largest river is the Kapuas River, which at 1,143 km is the longest river in Indonesia. The Rejang River in Sarawak at 563 km is the longest river in Malaysia. Other major rivers are the Barito River (880 km) and the Mahakam River (980 km).

Borneo is also known for the extensive Mulu cave system in Marudi, Miri, Sarawak, a world heritage.

Clearwater Cave has the world's longest underwater river. Deer cave, the largest cave passage in the world, is home to over 3 million bats, and has a pile of guano over 100 metres high.

The island of Borneo is divided administratively into:

- The Indonesian provinces of East, South, West and Central Kalimantan;
- The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Malaysian Federal Territory of Labuan which is an offshore island of Sabah ;
- The independent sultanate of Brunei (divided into western and eastern Brunei by the Limbang district of Sarawak).

Borneo gets its name from Brunei Ur meaning Greater Brunei in Sanskrit.

The whole island was ruled by the sultan of Brunei who hailed from the Kedayan tribe of Sarawak.

The tribe’s name is derived from the Sanskrit word Varunai which means Sea People.

Sarawak was governed by a son of the Brunei ruler with the title of Datuk Patinggi (Prime Minister) while Sabah was governed by his vassal, the Sultan of Sulu, the paramount ruler of the state’s indigenous Bajau tribe.

The Sultan of Sulu also ruled the islands of Sulu, Mindanao, Palawan, Visayas and Luzon which today make up the Philippines, and Taiwan which is today the Republic of China Taiwan.

Indonesian Borneo or Kalimantan was the Sultanate of Banjarmasin which was governed by a son of the Brunei ruler.

In 1824, Holland made Banjarmasin its protectorate and the kingdom was soon absorbed into the Dutch East Indies (or Dutch Johor). The Dutch East Indies became the independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945.

Britain acquired Sarawak in 1842, Brunei 4 years later and Sabah in 1881.

Sulu, a protectorate of Brunei, ceded Luzon and the Visayas to Spain in the 1500s and these islands became the Spanish colony of the Philippines.

In 1900, the islands of Sulu, Palawan and Mindanao which were ruled by the Sultan of Sulu were conquered by the United States and absorbed into the Philippines.

Borneo is very rich in biodiversity. There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants, 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo.

It is also the centre of evolution and radiation of many endemic species of plants and animals. The remaining Borneo rainforest is the only natural habitat for the endangered Bornean orang utan. It is also an important refuge for the Asian elephant, the Sumatran rhinoceros and the Bornean clouded leopard.

The World Wildlife Fund divides the island into seven distinct ecoregions. The Borneo lowland rain forests cover most of the island, with an area of 427,500 square km.

Other lowland ecoregions are the Borneo peat swamp forests, the Kerangas 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 1000 metre elevation.

The highest elevation of Mount Kinabalu is home to the Kinabalu mountain alpine meadows, an alpine shrubland notable for its numerous endemic species, including many orchids.

The island historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the area is shrinking rapidly due to heavy logging for the needs of the Malaysian plywood industry.

One half of the annual tropical timber acquisition of the world comes from Borneo.

Oil palm plantations are rapidly encroaching on the last remnants of primary rainforest.

The rainforest was also greatly destroyed in the forest fires from 1997 to 1998 which coincided with the El Nino drought.

The indigenous people of Borneo are the Ibans, who are found in Sarawak and West Kalimantan, the Kedayans or Bruneians (or Brunei Malays) who are found along the coasts of Sarawak, Brunei, Sabah, Labuan and Kalimantan [the largest tribe], the Bidayuhs who are found in Sarawak and West Kalimantan, the Melanaus, Kayans and Kenyahs who are found in Sarawak and the interior of Kalimantan, the Kadazan-Dusuns, Muruts and Bajaus who are found in Sabah, and the Kelabits who are found in Sarawak and Sabah.