Is Borneo A Country?

A cave in Borneo.

A country is a sovereign being independent of other nations. It has the legal capacity to transact business on behalf of the citizens. A country is distinct and independent in terms of governance, geography and legal jurisdiction. Borneo is the third largest island on Earth and the largest in Asia. The island is located east of Sumatra, North of Java and west of Sulawesi in Asia. Borneo is not classified as a country as it is governed by three separate sovereign political powers. The countries are Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia.

History Of Borneo

In the first millennium AD, the island was a trading port. The Spanish, Portuguese, Englishmen and Dutch merchants visited the island at different times on their trading and exploration missions. James Brooke, an Englishman established a kingdom in Sarawak leading to Borneo being declared a British Protectorate in 1888. During the Second World War, the Japanese took over though they were defeated by a combination of Australian army and allied forces.

Factors Leading To The Political Subdivision Of Borneo

Numerous countries have at one point in history laid claim on some parts of the island. Internally the island had inter tribal wars that kept the various tribal groups apart. In addition to Japanese invasion and claims by the Philippines, there were clashing Sultanates and wrangles between the Dutch and British. The turbulence did not end with Sukarno the first President of Indonesia gaining control of large parts of the island.

The island is vast and the numerous mountain ranges forms a barrier between the Indonesian side and Malaysian side. Different regions therefore allied themselves to nearby nations. The geographical barrier made it impossible for one colonizer to transverse and conquer the island for one country. Eventually, the Northern States of Sarawak and Sabah were allied to Malaysia, southern region was taken by Indonesia while the Small Sultanate region near the northern coast was taken by Brunei. In short, there was no unifying identity in the island.

Geography And Ecology Of Borneo

Borneo island covers an area of 743,330 square kilometers. Mount Kinabalu is the tallest point at an elevation of 4, 095 meters. Borneo island is surrounded by South China Sea, Makassar Strait, Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea, and the Java Sea. Karimata Strait is to the south while to the west is Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Long rivers include Kapuas, Mahakam, Barito, Rajang, and Kinabatangan. Numerous species of flora and fauna thrive in the vast habitat. Peat swamps are the natural feature along the coastline. Borneo island is home to the oldest rainforest dating over 140 million years.

Largest Cities In Borneo

The two largest cities are in the Indonesian region. They are Samarinda in East Kalimantan and Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan. Other towns are Kuching in Malaysia, Balikpapan in Indonesia, Pontianak in Indonesian and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

Economy Of Borneo

The island has become one of the leading oil producers in the region. Agriculture, ecotourism and fisheries are other foreign exchange earners. Timber exports is a lucrative business in Kalimantan province of Indonesia.

Demographics Of Borneo

The population stood at 21,258,000 as at 2014 census thus a population density of 29 people per square kilometer. Most of the people are on the Indonesian side, followed by Malaysian Region. Brunei region is the least populated. The dominant ethnic communities are the Banjar, Sama-Bajau, Bidayuh, Bruneian, Dayak, Rungus, Malay, Iban, Murut and Chinese. There was an increase in Muslim population in the 1970's after immigrants from Southern Philippines were given settlement. Coastal areas have the highest population density.


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