Borneo Pulau Borneo, Indonesian: Kalimantan) is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java, west of Sulawesi, and east of Sumatra.
The island is politically divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia to the south. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory. In the north, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up about 26% of the island. Additionally, the Malaysian federal territory of Labuan is situated on a small island just off the coast of Borneo. The sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about 1% of Borneo's land area.
The island is known by many names. Internationally it is known as Borneo, after Brunei, derived from European contact with the kingdom in the 16th century during the Age of Exploration. The name Brunei possibly derives from the Sanskrit word "váru?a", meaning either "water" or the mythological Varuna, the Hindu god of rain. Indonesian natives called it Kalimantan, which was derived from the Sanskrit word Kalamanthana, meaning "burning weather island" (to describe its hot and humid tropical weather).
In earlier times, the island was known by other names. In 977, Chinese records began to use the term Po-ni to refer to Borneo or Brunei. In 1225, it was also mentioned by the Chinese official Chau Ju-Kua (???). The Javanese manuscript Nagarakretagama, written by Majapahit court poet Mpu Prapanca in 1365, mentioned the island as Nusa Tanjungnagara, which means the island of the Tanjungpura Kingdom.
It is the centre of the evolution and distribution of many endemic species of plants and animals, and the rainforest is one of the few remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean orangutan. It is an important refuge for many endemic forest species, including the Borneo elephant, the eastern Sumatran rhinoceros, the Bornean clouded leopard, the hose's palm civet and the dayak fruit bat.
Peat swamp forests occupy the entire coastline of Borneo.The soil of the peat swamp are comparatively infertile, while it is known to be the home of various bird species such as the hook-billed bulbul, helmeted hornbill and rhinoceros hornbill. There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps), 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo.There are about 440 freshwater fish species in Borneo (about the same as Sumatra and Java combined). In 2010, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) stated that 123 species have been discovered in Borneo since the "Heart of Borneo" agreement was signed in 2007.
The WWF has classified the island into seven distinct ecoregions. Most are lowland regions:
- Borneo lowland rain forests cover most of the island, with an area of 427,500 square kilometres (165,100 sq mi);
- Borneo peat swamp forests;
- Kerangas or Sundaland heath forests;
- Southwest Borneo freshwater swamp forests; and
- Sunda Shelf mangroves.
- The Borneo montane rain forests lie in the central highlands of the island, above the 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) elevation.
- The Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands on South Kalimantan.
The island historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the area was reduced due to heavy logging by the Indonesian and Malaysian wood industry, especially with the large demands of raw materials from industrial countries along with the conversion of forest lands for large-scale agricultural purposes. Half of the annual global tropical timber acquisition comes from Borneo. Palm oil plantations have been widely developed and are rapidly encroaching on the last remnants of primary rainforest. Forest fires since 1997, started by the locals to clear the forests for plantations were exacerbated by an exceptionally dry El Niño season, worsening the annual shrinkage of the rainforest. During these fires, hotspots were visible on satellite images and resulting haze that frequently affecting Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and if turns much worse the haze will also reaching to southern Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines as evidenced on the 2015 Southeast Asian haze.
According to ancient Chinese (977),Indian and Japanese manuscripts, western coastal cities of Borneo had become trading ports by the first millennium AD. In Chinese manus cripts, gold, camphor, tortoise shells, hornbill ivory, rhinoceros horn, crane crest, beeswax, lakawood (a scented heartwood and root wood of a thick liana, Dalbergia parviflora), dragon's blood, rattan, edible bird's nests and various spices were described as among the most valuable items from Borneo. The Indians named Borneo Suvarnabhumi (the land of gold) and also Karpuradvipa (Camphor Island). The Javanese named Borneo Puradvipa, or Diamond Island. Archaeological findings in the Sarawak river delta reveal that the area was a thriving centre of trade between India and China from the 6th century until about 1300.
Stone pillars bearing inscriptions in the Pallava script, found in Kutai along the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan and dating to around the second half of the 4th century, constitute some of the oldest evidence of Hindu influence in Southeast Asia. By the 14th century, Borneo became a vassal state of Majapahit (in present-day Indonesia),later changing its allegiance to the Ming dynasty of China. The religion of Islam entered the island in the 10th century, following the arrival of Muslim traders who later converted many indigenous peoples in the coastal areas.
The Sultanate of Brunei declared independence from Majapahit following the death of Majapahit Emperor in mid-14th century. During its golden age under Bolkiah from the 15th century to the 17th century, the Bruneian Empire ruled almost entire coastal area of Borneo (lending its name to the island due to its influence in the region) and several islands in the Philippines. During the 1450s, Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab born in Johor, arrived in Sulu from Malacca. In 1457, he founded the Sultanate of Sulu; he titled himself as "Paduka Maulana Mahasari Sharif Sultan Hashem Abu Bakr". Following their independence in 1578 from Brunei's influence, the Sulu's began to expand their thalassocracy to parts of the northern Borneo. Both the sultanates who ruled northern Borneo had traditionally engaged in trade with China by means of the frequently-arriving Chinese junks. Despite the thalassocracy of the sultanates, Borneo's interior region remained free from the rule of any kingdoms.
Borneo has 19.8 million inhabitants (in mid-2010), a population density of 26 inhabitants per square km. Most of the population lives in coastal cities, although the hinterland has small towns and villages along the rivers. The population consists mainly of Dayak ethnic groups, Malay, Banjar, Orang Ulu, Chinese and Kadazan-Dusun. The Chinese, who make up 29% of the population of Sarawak and 17% of total population in West Kalimantan, Indonesia are descendants of immigrants primarily from southeastern China.