Incredible Islands – Borneo

Located at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, the island of Borneo is the world’s third biggest island and is occupied by the three countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

The majority of the island, 73%, is claimed by Indonesia and is called Kalimantan.  Malaysia lays claims to two parts of Borneo, the states of Sabah and Sarawak, with the small independent country of Brunei sandwiched between Sabah and Sarawak.

Borneo contains the world’s oldest rain forest.  With an age of 130 million years it is at least 60 million years older than the next oldest, the Amazon rain forest in Brazil.  Sadly, but much of the forest is being de-nuded by legal and illegal logging, mainly in Kalimantan.

The highest point on Borneo is Mt Kota Kinabulu in Sabah.  At 4,095 metres (13,435 ft) it is the world’s third highest island after New Guinea and Hawaii.

Both Indonesia’s longest river, the Kapuas, and Malaysia’s longest river, the Rajang, are found on Borneo.  Kalimantan is further divided into four provinces which hold a population of 12 million people.

The country of Brunei occupies just 1% of Borneo and has a permanent population of just 400,000.  An oil rich Islamic nation, the Sultan of Brunei was once considered to be the world’s wealthiest man and the country is considered to be the fourth richest nation on Earth in terms of per capita purchasing power.     

The richness of the flora and fauna that is found on Borneo is quite incredible.  The island is estimated to contain about 15,000 species of flowering plants and 3,000 species of trees.  Living amongst this vibrant plant life are 221 different types of mammals and 420 types of birds.  Some of those species are considered to be endangered due to rapid deforestation, and included amongst that decline are Orang-utans, Asian Elephants, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Bornean Clouded Leopard and the Dayak Fruit Bat.

Because much of Borneo consists of limestone, it has come very interesting cave systems, the biggest of which are located in Sarawak.

The Clearwater Cave, with approximately 60 kilometres of known passages, is considered as the longest cave system in Southeast Asia. It is recognised for its clear underground stream, which is one of the world’s longest underground rivers.

The Wind Cave is located on the same trail leading to Clearwater cave. It is known for its blowing wind. It contains a chamber called King’s Room, a cavern composed of huge columns coming from the ceiling down and from the ground up.

Deer Cave is another massive cave system with impressively large chambers and passages which are many kilometres long.  Deer cave is also home to 3 million bats, which are so dense they have deposited piles of bat guano that are about 30 metres (100 ft) deep.

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