Maluku Islands

The Maluku Islands or the Moluccas (/məˈlʌkəz/) (Molukken) are an archipelago in eastern Indonesia. 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 and east of Timor. Lying within Wallacea (mostly east of the biogeographical Weber Line), the Maluku islands have been considered part of both Asia and Oceania.

Maluku Islands
February 2013 map of the Maluku Islands
Geography
LocationOceania, Southeast Asia
Coordinates3°9′S 129°23′E
Total islands~1000
Major islandsHalmahera, Seram, Buru, Ambon, Ternate, Tidore, Aru Islands, Kai Islands, Lucipara Islands
Area74,505 km2 (28,767 sq mi)
Highest elevation3,027 m (9931 ft)
Highest pointBinaiya
Administration
Provinces Maluku
 North Maluku
Largest settlementAmbon
Demographics
Population2,844,131[1] (2015)
Ethnic groupsAlfur, Nuaulu, Bugis

The islands were known as the Spice Islands because of the nutmeg, mace and cloves that were exclusively found there, the presence of which sparked colonial interest from Europe in the sixteenth century.[2]

The Maluku Islands formed a single province from Indonesian independence until 1999, when it was split into two provinces. A new province, North Maluku, incorporates the area between Morotai and Sula, with the arc of islands from Buru and Seram to Wetar remaining within the existing Maluku Province. North Maluku is predominantly Muslim, and its capital is Sofifi on Halmahera island. Maluku province has a larger Christian population, and its capital is Ambon. Though originally Melanesian,[3] many island populations, especially in the Banda Islands, were massacred in the seventeenth century during the Dutch–Portuguese War, also known as The Spice War. A second influx of immigrants primarily from Java began in the early twentieth century under the Dutch and continues in the Indonesian era, which has also caused a lot of controversy as the Transmigrant programs have done so and even thought to have led to the Maluku Riots.[citation needed]

Between 1999 and 2002, conflict between Muslims and Christians killed thousands and displaced half a million people.