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Satellite photo of Borneo.
Satellite photo of Borneo.

Borneo (including the Kalimantan provinces of Indonesia, Sabah and Sarawak of Malaysia, and Brunei) is an island, the third largest island in the world, located at the center of the Malay archipelago and of Indonesia. Borneo is considered part of the geographic region of Southeast Asia.



Borneo is surrounded by the South China Sea to the north and northwest, the Sulu Sea to the northeast, the Celebes Sea and the Makassar Strait to the east, and the Java Sea and Karimata Strait to the south.

Satellite photo of Borneo.
Satellite photo of Borneo.
To the west of Borneo are the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. To the south is Java. To the east are Sulawesi (Celebes) and the Moluccas. To the northeast are the Philippines.

Borneo's highest point is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, with an elevation of 4 101 m above sea level.


Borneo is divided politically into:


Borneo was the main site of the confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia between 1962 and 1966.

The whole Borneo was controlled by Brunei Empire during its golden age from the 15th to 17th centuries.

Natural Resources

The island historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the area is shrinking rapidly due to heavy logging for the needs of the Malaysian plywood industry and also multinational companies such as Mitsubishi take their share. Actually one half of the annual tropical timber acquisition of the whole world comes from Borneo. Furthermore, palm plantations are rapidly encroaching on the last remnants of primary rainforest. The rainforest has also been greatly destroyed due to the forest fire in 1997-1998 which was started by men and apparently coincide with an exceptional draught season of El Niņo. During the great fire of 1997-1998, hotspots can be seen via satellite images and creating haze that affected Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.The remaining Borneo rainforest is the only natural habitat for the endangered Bornean orangutan. It is also an important refuge for many endemic forest species, and the Asian Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros and the Clouded Leopard.

Indigenous people (e.g. Kayan, Kenyah, Punan Bah and Penan) living on the island are not too happy about the logging and they try to fight for their rights to preserve their environment.

The type of rainforests found in Borneo include rare peat-swamp forests and heath forest.


  • Gudgeon, L. W. W. 1913. British North Borneo. Adam and Charles Black, London. (An early well-illustrated book on "British North Borneo", now known as Sabah.)

See also

Online Documentary

Last updated: 05-10-2005 03:28:20
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