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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.

The Banda Islands
Remote tropical islands

The Banda group, about 132 kilometers southeast of Ambon, consist of three larger islands and seven smaller ones, perched on the rim of Indonesia’s deepest sea, the Banda Sea. Near Manuk Island the water reaches a depth of more than 6,500 meters. Gunung Api Islands is an active volcano, the last major eruption occurred only a few years ago.

The Banda Islands are a volcanic group of ten small volcanic islands in the Banda Sea, about 140 km south of Seram island and about 2000 km east of Java, and are part of the Indonesian province of Maluku. The main town and administrative centre is Bandanaira, located on the island of the same name.

They rise out of 4–6 km deep ocean and have a total land area of approximately 180 km2. They have a population of about 15,000. Until the mid 19th century the Banda Islands were the world's only source of the spices nutmeg and mace, produced from the nutmeg tree. The islands are also popular destinations for scuba diving and snorkeling.

The seas around Banda are the site of famous Maluku sea gardens with their fantasy-land coral reefs and kaleidoscopic array of multi-colored fish darting through the crystal clear water. Pulau Karaka, Pulau Pisang and Pulai Ai are particularly well-known for their amazing snorkeling and diving. Facilities for sightseeing, snorkeling and skin diving as well clean, comfortable cottages are available on some islands.

Banda was home to some of the bloodiest episodes of Maluku’s history. In 1609 the Dutch East Indies Company dispatched a new governor-general to the islands to obtain the contested spice trade monopoly at any cost. Confronted by superior power, the people of Banda were forced to allow the company to establish a fort, but in the same year Governor Verhoeff was killed, together with 45 of his men. The company retailed, but peace was not restored. In 1619, V.O.C. Governor-General Jan Pieterszoon Coen arrived at the head of penal expedition and exterminated the entire population of Banda.

The land was divided into lots, called “perken”, and given to former company employees, the “perkiniers”, who were obliged to grow nutmeg and sell them at predetermined prices to the company. Slaves did the actual work in the fields. The old “perkinier houses” , or what is left of them, an old churches still retain a peculiar colonial character to the port town of Bandaneira today. Two old forts Belgica and Nassau are inside the town limits. Others are found elsewhere on the islands. See also the former Dutch Governor’s mansion, the Museum of History in Neira, and the huge nutmeg plantation nearby.

General information on Pulau Banda

Banda archipelago consists of 13 islands, those are: Naira (usually known as Banda Naira), Banda Besar (Lonthoir), Run, Ay, Rozengain (or Hatta), Pisang (or Syahrir), Gunung Api island, Batu Kapal, Manuk, Karaka, Nailaka, Manukang, and Hatta Reef. All of this islands make an area of 44 sq km, with Naira as the sub district capital. The people's jobs are as farmers and sailors, and they sell their crops and fish in Naira, and if there are ships harbouring at piers.

The main products are: banana, pineapple, coconuts, pepper, and fuli, tuber, salty fist/ dried fish typical of Banda (Cakalang Banda). Pulau Naira is the sub district capital of Banda archipelago and also is the main city in Banda. It has an airport, an harbor, market, a lot of accommodation including restaurants, and governmental offices.

Naira city was built by the Portuguese in the early of 1500's, and about a century after that was built by the Dutch. At the time of the Dutch colony, de "Kleine Europeesch Stad" (Little European Town), Naira began to be known. Fortresses, pepper plantation, Dutch houses, and the residents of the supervisors and the first VOC General Governor (Vereenigde Oost Indische Companie) were built. Nowadays, the ruins of those buildings have become the mute witness which is very valuable from the spices trade, and has changed the world history.

The term "Perkenier" came from the Dutch word "perk" which is means garden. When the Dutch still conquered Indonesia, the VOC brought Dutch farmers to Banda to watch all of the pepper gardens. Each farmer was given some land which was called "perk" or "perken". This little landlords had become very famous in Dutch history and also in Banda history as "perkeniers" and their job is to manage and watch the pepper plantation at that time. The perken/ plantation is still existed in Banda, but most of them are now managed by the Government institution (P.D. Pala Banda).

The history of Banda

Some centuries ago, long before the coming of the European to Banda, these islands were the main source of pepper and fuli which were fought for by the nations in the world. On that era, these spices were brought by the Malayan merchant, Chinese merchant, and Arabic merchant, then shipped to Persian peninsula and by the merchant then were continued to Mediteranian/ Middle sea to be spread to all Europe through Constantinople, Genoa, and Venesia. Everytime these spices were moving from different hands, the prices became higher.

The European merchants were trying to look for the source area for these spices and they were competing to get and conquer these precious spices trade, which was then strengthened by the building of the fortresses and buildings in all Banda archipelago. These things could be seen from the ruins of the fortresses and buildings in Banda archipelago, with Naira as the oldest neighborhood in the East.

During the conflict of Indonesian-Dutch, Banda archipelago was used as the disposal place for national political prisoners and the national Indonesian heroes like: Dr. Moh. Hatta, St. Syahrir, F.Iwakusuma Sumantri, and Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo. Their houses are now being renovated and used as the museum. This spice island has become an interesting tourism destination.

The climate

The climate in Banda archipelago and around is the tropical aquatic climate with the average temperature between 25-26°C. The weather is influenced by the depth of Banda ocean and small islands which cause the weather become cooler. The dry season in Banda starts from August until November.

The west wind blows from November until the middle of March while the east wind blows from March to October. The rainy season in Banda starts around May until September. The right time to travel to Banda is on October, November until early December. On those time, the ocean is very calm and very fun to be sailed.

Location map of The Banda Islands

Last revised on May 20, 2011
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