|The least visited and
wildest of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are in the east, gathered
in two great archipelagos north and south of the treacherous Banda
Also referred to as the Maluku Archipelago, it is made up of over
1,000 islands, several uninhabited and others so isolated from each
other and (since the decline of the spice trade) from the outside
world that every one has its own culture and very often its own
Halmahera is the largest of the islands in the Moluccan
group and 1 of the most diverse. On the coast are the remaining
populations of all the great powers who competed for power of the
Spice Trade – Dutch, Arabs,
Gujuratis, Malays and Portuguese.
Inland the people speak a unique language that has slight or nothing
in common even with other unique languages on the more remote islands.
Morotai, situated to the north, was home to a Japanese
air base during World War II, but is now engaged
in the production of copra and
Tidore and Ternate, tiny volcanic
islands off the west coast of Halmahera, were once the
world’s most important source of cloves. It consequently combined
far more wealth and power than their size would seem to merit. The
Sultanate of Ternate was an independent military
force of substantial muscle before the arrival of the Portuguese,
applying influence over a lot of South-East Asia. Both islands attract
more tourists than their larger neighbour.
Ambon was another significant centre of the clove
trade and has over 40 old Dutch fortresses dating
from the early 17th century. Banda, in the middle
of the Banda Sea, known as the original ‘Spice Island’
and is well known as a nutmeg-growing centre.
Nusa Penida was once a penal colony, but now draws
visitors to its spectacular seascapes and beaches. Komodo
is home to the world’s largest and rarest species of the monitor
lizard, while Sumba is famous for its stunning
Ikat cloth. Mount Keli Mutu is 1 of Indonesia’s
most spectacular natural sights, the famous 3 crater lakes, whose
striking colours change with the light of the day.
The islands north of Timor including Adonara,
Lembata, Alor, Pantar, Solor and Wetar – are seldom
visited by tourists. There are several old fortresses on the islands,
from where seafarers used to set sail on whale hunts. The cultures
on Ndau, Roti and Sawu
have seemingly changed little since the Bronze Age.
The islands’ inhabitants are renowned as musicians and palm
Terawangan Islands is a small
cluster with beautiful beaches and coral gardens. Lucipara
has great waters for snorkeling.Bone Rate, Kangean,
Tukand Besi and Tenggaya is a
group of isolated atolls in the Flores and Banda seas, epitomising
a tropical paradise.
The western part of the island of New Guinea is 1 of the last great
unexplored areas of the world. Even today, visiting
boats are often greeted by flotillas of warriors in war canoes.
All those wanting to visit Irian Jaya must acquire
special permits from State Police Headquarters
Travellers are advised to avoid this area.