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.
Halmahera (also Jilolo or Gilolo) is the largest island in the Maluku Islands. It is part of the North Maluku province of Indonesia. Halmahera has a land area of 17,780 km˛ (6,865 sq mi) and a population in 1995 of 162,728. About half of its inhabitants are Muslim and about half are Christian.
Sparsely-populated Halmahera's fortunes have long been closely tied to those of the smaller islands of Ternate and Tidore, both off its west coast. These islands were both the sites of major kingdoms in the era before Dutch East India Company colonized the entire archipelago.
During World War II, Halmahera was the site of a Japanese military base at Kao Bay. In 1999 and 2000 Halmahera was the site of violence between Christians and Muslims that began as a purely ethnic dispute between residents of (mainly Christian) Kao and (entirely Muslim) Malifut sub-districts and then took on a religious nature as it spread through much of the North Moluccas.
Today, much transportation to the rest of Indonesia is through connections on the provincial capital, Ternate island; although Tobelo, the largest town on Halmahera, also has direct ferry and cargo sea links to Surabaya and Manado.
Particularly since the inauguration of the first ever directly elected Bupati (Regent or District Head), Tobelo is undergoing rapid development and is aiming at rivaling Ternate's historical dominance. Tobelo has the advantage of expansion potential, being surrounded by flat land. Ternate is limited by its size, being a small island which can be driven around in 45 minutes. Also, the provincial government has plans to move the provincial capital to Sofifi, a small village on the Halmahera coast opposite Tidore island.
North Maluku province consists of 8 districts, 6 of which include a part of Halmahera island. They are: North Halmahera, West Halmahera, East Halmahera, Central Halmahera, South Hamahera, Ternate Municipality, Tidore City and Islands and Sula Islands. Only Ternate Municipality and Sula Islands do not include any part of Halmahera.
Location map of Halmahera Island
Last revised on May 20, 2011
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