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Borneo Island Facts for Kids

Gathered by: Will

  • Borneo is the third largest island in the world and the largest island of Asia.
  • The Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak in the north occupy about 26% of the island.
  • The sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about 1% of Borneo’s land area.
  • 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.
  • Its highest point is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, with an elevation of 13,435 ft.
  • Deeper waters separating Borneo from neighboring Sulawesi prevented a land connection to that island, creating the divide between Asian and Australia-New Guinea biological regions known as Wallace’s Line.
  • There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps), 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo.
  • The Borneo rainforest is one of the only remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean orangutan.
  • It is an important refuge for many endemic forest species, including the Asian elephant, the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Bornean clouded leopard, the Hose’s civet and the dayak fruit bat.
  • Other lowland ecoregions are the Borneo peat swamp forests, the Kerangas or Sundaland heath forests, the Southwest Borneo freshwater swamp forests, and the Sunda Shelf mangroves.
  • The highest elevations of Mount Kinabalu are home to the Kinabalu mountain alpine meadow, an alpine shrubland notable for its numerous endemic species, including many orchids.
  • During the great fire, hotspots could be seen on satellite images and the haze thus created affected the surrounding countries of Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
  • According to ancient Chinese, Indian and Japanese manuscripts, western coastal cities of Borneo had become trading ports by the first millennium.
  • Archaeological findings in the Sarawak river delta reveal that the area was once a thriving trading centre between India and China from the 500’s until about 1300 AD.
  • One of the earliest evidence of Hindu influence in Southeast Asia were stone pillars which bear inscriptions in the Pallava script found in Kutai along the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan, dating to around the second half of the 300s AD.
  • By the 14th century Borneo was under the control of the Majapahit kingdom.
  • In 1703 (other sources say 1658), the Sultanate of Sulu received North Borneo from the Sultan of Brunei, after Sulu sent aid against a rebellion in Brunei.
  • In the early 19th century, British and Dutch governments signed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 to exchange trading ports under their controls and assert spheres of influence, which indirectly set apart the two parts of Borneo into British and Dutch controlled areas.
  • The Malay and Sea Dayak pirates preyed on maritime shipping in the waters between Singapore and Hong Kong from their haven in Borneo.
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