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MALUKU (MOLUCCAS)

The Maluku Islands, also known as the Moluccas or the Spice Islands, are a region of Indonesia lying between Sulawesi and Papua. This region is largely very off-the-beaten track for travelers.

Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, and north and east of Timor.

Most of the islands are mountainous, some with active volcanoes, and enjoy a wet climate. The vegetation of the small and narrow islands, encompassed by the sea, is very luxuriant; including rainforests, sago, rice, and the famous spices—nutmeg, mace and cloves, among others.

The name Maluku is thought to have been derived from the Arab trader's term for the region, Jazirat al-Muluk ("the island of the kings")

Information provided by Wikitravel

UNDERSTAND MALUKU

In the Dutch era, the Moluccas were known as the Spice Islands and were the only place on earth where nutmeg, mace, cloves and several other valuable spices were grown.

The over 632 islands Maluku are sprawled across a vast expanse of ocean, sitting astride one of the world’s most volatile volcanic belts. Maluku is blessed with incredible sea gardens, idyllic, tropical beaches and rugged, forest-coated volcanic mountains.

These are the famous ‘ spice islands’ which drew Indian, Chinese, Arab and eventually European traders in search of cloves and nutmeg. In 1511, the Portuguese built their first fort in the area on the island of Ternate, and cornered the clove trade. The Dutch, who arrived in 1599, mounted the first serious threat to Portuguese control of Maluku’s treasures. Armed conflicts broke out, taking a heavy toll from the island populations as well as the rival European powers. When the Dutch finally emerged as victors they enforced their trade monopoly with an iron fist. Whole villages were razed to the ground and thousands of islanders died, especially on the island of Banda.

The British briefly occupied Maluku during the Napoleonic Wars, but Dutch rule was restored in 1814 and it wasn’t until 1863 that the compulsory cultivation of spices was abolished in the province. Now fish and other sea products are Maluku’s major sources of revenue, but nickel, oil, manganese and various kinds of timber also contribute to the province’s wealth.

The main gateway into Maluku is through the provincial capital Ambon, which is served by regular flights to most parts of the archipelago. Air and sea transportation connect the islands with 79 seaports and 25 airports. Roads on many of the islands provide access to the more remote places of interest.  


CULTURE

Due to its history, the people here are very mixed. Malay, Indian, Arab, Chinese, Portuguese, Bugis, Javanese are found anywhere. Tribal communities of Ua-ulu choose not to garb themselves in traditional outfits. Ua-ulu men can be distinguished with red head scarves that they wear. And as for their head hunting habit? It all belongs to folklore and legend.


CLIMATE

Central and southern Maluku Islands experience the dry monsoon between October to March and the wet monsoon from May to August, which is the reverse of the rest of Indonesia. The dry monsoon's average maximum temperature is 30°C while the wet's average maximum is 23°C. Northern Maluku has its wet monsoon from December to March in line with the rest of Indonesia. Each island group have their own climatic variations, and the larger islands tend to have drier coastal lowlands and their mountainous hinterlands are wetter.


LANGUAGE

Indonesian, Ambonese, other languages


HOW TO GET THERE

By plane

Direct flights to Ambon are available from Jakarta with Lion Air (IDR 1,200,000) and Garuda Indonesia(IDR 1,800,000). You can also fly direct from Bali with Sriwijaya Air (IDR 2,400,000)

By boat

PELNI Ferries are going also to Ambon, but are rather adventurous.

A current schedule is available on the Pelni website.


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