Maluku:: Wetar and Liran

Maluku, South East Maluku, Pulau Liran. Liran is located just north of East Timor. The larger island Wetar in the background, looking east (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, South East Maluku, Pulau Liran. Liran is located just north of East Timor. The larger island Wetar in the background, looking east (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Wetar is located just 56 km north of Timor’s northeastern coast. The island is 80 km long in east-west direction and 45 km wide in north-south direction, area about 3.600 sq. km. The interior of the island is mountainous and covered by rain forest, highest mountain is 1.412 m. The climate is in the wet season humid with lots of rain, while the rest of the year there can be long periods of drought.

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Maluku:: The Banda Islands

Maluku, Central Maluku, Banda Sea. This is a tiny island on a large reef in the Banda Sea, in the center of the reef a lagoon (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, Central Maluku, Banda Sea. This is a tiny island on a large reef in the Banda Sea, in the center of the reef a lagoon (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The Banda Sea is one of Indonesia’s deepest oceans, at the most more than 6.500 m deep. It spans a large area, all the way to Sulawesi in the west. At the center of the sea south of Seram there are a small group of ten islands plus some uninhabited small corral islands, called the Banda Islands. The most important are Banda Besar, Neira and Gunung Api (“the mountain of fire”). All of the islands are of volcanic origin.

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Maluku:: The Aru Islands

Maluku, South East Maluku, Aru. The Aru islands are low and covered with thick forests and swamps. This is one of the eastern islands (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, South East Maluku, Aru. The Aru islands are low and covered with thick forests and swamps. This is one of the eastern islands (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The group of islands called Aru are located just west of West Papua in the Arafura Sea, which stretches all the way to West Papua to the east and Australia to the south. Aru is the easternmost group of islands in Maluku, they consists of about 85 islands totaling an area of 8.563 sq. km. The largest island, Tanabesar (also called Wokam), is in reality six different islands, only separated by five narrow channels. Tanabesar is 177 km long and 77 km wide.

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Maluku:: North Maluku

Maluku, North Maluku, Halmahera. Small bamboo shelters on a beach close to Halmahera (from helicopter) (Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, North Maluku, Halmahera. Small bamboo shelters on a beach close to Halmahera (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Halmahera is the largest island in the Maluku archipelago. Because of the mountainous landscape it is however the most sparsely populated, considering the size. Population is about 130.000, and there are no large cities here. Only on the northern peninsula there are some infrastructure and villages of any significance, there are some villages on the southern peninsula as well.

The population are mainly Muslim with a mix of ethnic backgrounds; Arabs, Indians, Portuguese, Dutch and Malay.

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Maluku:: Pulau Buru

Maluku, Central Maluku, Buru. Buru is mainly high mountains and large forests. This is the east coast of Buru. (Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, Central Maluku, Buru. Buru is mainly high mountains and large forests. This is the east coast of Buru. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Pulau Buru is one of the largest islands in Maluku, it is part of central Maluku and is administered from Ambon just east of the island. Buru consists mainly of mountains covered with forest, the highest peak is Gunung Tomahu, 2.428 meter above sea level. Land area about 3.670 sq. km., it is 145 km long and 80 km wide. Along the coast there is a flat plateau, where most of the about 100.000 inhabitants live.

The most important city is Namlea at the north coast, which has an airport and a good harbor. Important products from Buru come from trees like ebony, teak, sago palms and coconut palms. The Dutch occupied the island in 1683, and it became a part of Indonesia in 1950. After the so-called communist coup in 1965 the Indonesian government used Buru as a detention camp. More than 10.000 people, mainly persons from Java who were accused of being communists, were imprisoned here. Most of them were released in 1980.

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Maluku:: Tanimbarese identity

Maluku, Central Maluku, Banda Sea. This is a tiny island on a large reef in the Banda Sea, in the center of the reef a lagoon (from helicopter). (Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, Central Maluku, Banda Sea. This is a tiny island on a large reef in the Banda Sea, in the center of the reef a lagoon (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

In the southeastern part of Maluku Province lived more than 60,000 residents of the Tanimbar archipelago in the early 1990s. They resided in villages ranging in size from 150 to 2,500 inhabitants, but most villages numbered from 300 to 1,000. Nearly all residents spoke one of four related, but mutually unintelligible, languages. Because of an extended dry season, the forests were much less luxuriant than in some of the more northerly Maluku Islands.

The effects of over-intensive swidden cultivation of rice, cassava, and other root crops were visible in the interior. Many Tanimbarese also engaged in reef and deep-sea fishing and wild boar hunting.

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Maluku:: Facts

Maluku, South East Maluku, Aru. Nice beach on one of the eastern Aru islands. Most of the coastline is however covered by swamps (from helicopter) (Bjorn Grotting)

Maluku, South East Maluku, Aru. Nice beach on one of the eastern Aru islands. Most of the coastline is however covered by swamps (from helicopter) (Bjorn Grotting)

The archipelago of Maluku cover almost 1.5 million sq. km, and stretches 1.200 km from north to south and about the same from east to west. Within this huge area there aren about 1.027 smaller and larger islands, of which more than 600 is uninhabited, total land area is about 87.000 sq. km. The largest islands are Seram, Halmahera and Buru, these three islands alone makes up half of the total land area of Maluku.

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