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Maluku

The Maluku Islands are an archipelago in Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. 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 of Timor. The islands were also historically known as the Spice Islands by the Chinese and Europeans, but this term has also been applied to other islands.


Geology and ecology
Geology and ecology of the Spice Islands

The geology and ecology of the Maluku Islands share much similar history, characteristics and processes with the neighbouring Nusa Tenggara region. There is a long history of geological study of these regions since Indonesian colonial times; however, the geological formation and progression is not fully understood, and theories of the island's geological evolution have changed extensively in recent decades. The Maluku Islands comprise some of the most geologically complex and active regions in the world, resulting from its position at the meeting point of four geological plates and two continental blocks.

The islands lie in Wallacea, the region between the Sunda Shelf (part of the Asia block), and the Arafura Shelf (part of the Australian block). Wallacea also encompasses Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi, and within this region of small islands lies some of the world's deepest seas.

Malukan biodiversity and its distribution are affected by various tectonic activities; most of the islands are geologically young, being from 1 million to 15 million years old, and have never been attached to the larger landmasses. The Maluku islands differ from other areas in Indonesia; they contain some of the country's smallest islands, coral island reefs scattered through some of the deepest seas in the world, and no large islands such as Java or Sumatra. Flora and fauna immigration between islands is thus restricted, leading to a high rate of endemic biota evolving.

The ecology of the Maluku Islands has fascinated collectors for centuries; Alfred Wallace's famous book, The Malay Archipelago was the first significant recording of this natural history, and remains one of the most important sources on Indonesian natural history. Maluku is the source of two major historical works of natural history; George Everhard Rumpf wrote the Herbarium Amboinense and the Ambonische Rariatenkamer.

While many ecological problems affect both small islands and large landmasses, small islands suffer their particular problems. Development pressures on small islands are increasing, although their effects are not always anticipated. Although Indonesia is richly endowed with natural resources, the resources of the small islands of Maluku are limited and specialised; furthermore, human resources in particular are limited.


All text in this article is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Last revised on May 20, 2011
    
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