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Borneo or Kalimantan
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located at the centre of Maritime Southeast Asia. Administratively, this island is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Indonesians refer to the island as "Kalimantan."

The largest river systems are the Kapuas River, with approximately 1,143 km (710 mi) the longest river in Indonesia, the Barito River about 880 km (550 mi) long and the Mahakam River about 980 km (610 mi) long.

According to ancient Chinese, Indian and Javanese manuscripts, western coastal cities of Borneo have become trading ports, part of their trade routes, since the first millenium. In Chinese manuscripts, gold, camphor, tortoise shells, hornbill ivory, rhinoceros horn, crane crest, beeswax, lakawood (a scented heartwood and root wood of a thick liana, Dalbergia parviflora), dragon's blood, rattan, edible bird's nests and various spices were among the most valuable items from Borneo.

The Indians named Borneo as Suvarnabhumi (the land of gold) and also Karpuradvipa (the Camphor Island), which includes the western part of the island shared with Sumatra island. The Javanese named Borneo as Puradvipa, or the Diamond Island. Archaeological findings in the delta river of Sarawak reveal that the area was once a thriving trade center between India and China from the sixth century until about 1300 AD.

In the fourteenth century, part of Borneo were under the control of Majapahit kingdom as is written in Javanese Nagarakretagama document (circa 1365 AD). The name of a trading port city in Borneo is Tanjungpura in Nagarakretagama; the same name written in another Javanese Paraton document (circa 1355 AD).

By the 18th century, the area from Sambas to Berau were tributaries to the Banjar Kingdom, but this eventually shrunk to the size of what is now South Kalimantan as a result of agreements with the Dutch. In the Karang Intan Agreement during the reign of Prince Nata Dilaga (Susuhunan Nata Alam) (1808-1825), the Banjar Kingdom gave up its territories to the Dutch Indies which included Bulungan, Kutai, Pasir, Pagatan and Kotawaringin.

Other territories given up to the Dutch Indies were Landak, Sambas, Sintang and Sukadana.
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 influences, in which indirectly set apart the two parts of Borneo into British and Dutch controlled areas. China has had historical trading links with the inhabitants of the island. Some of the Chinese beads and wares found their way deep into the interior of Borneo.

Moreover in the 19th century, the Dutch admitted the founding of district kingdoms with native leaders who were under the power of the Dutch (Indirect Bestuur). The Dutch assign a resident to head their rule over Kalimantan.
Since 1938, Dutch-Borneo (Kalimantan) was one administrative territory under a governor (Governor Haga) whose seat was in Banjarmasin. In 1957 following the independence of Indonesia, Kalimantan was divided into 3 provinces which is South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and West Kalimantan. The province of Central Kalimantan separated from South Kalimantan to have their own territory in 1958.

Borneo is very rich in biodiversity compared to many other areas. It is also the centre of evolution and radiation of many endemic species of plants and animals. 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, as the Asian Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Bornean Clouded Leopard, and the Dayak Fruit Bat.

The World Wildlife Fund divides the island into seven distinct ecoregions. The Borneo lowland rain forests cover most of the island, with an area of 427,500 square kilometres (165,100 sq mi). Other lowland eco-regions are the Borneo peat swamp forests, the Kerangas or Sundaland heath forests, the Southwest Borneo freshwater swamp forests, and the Sunda Shelf mangroves. The Borneo mountain rain forests lie in the central highlands of the island, above the 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) elevation.

The island historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the area shrank rapidly due to heavy logging for the needs of the Malaysian plywood industry. One half of the annual tropical timber acquisition of the whole world comes from Borneo. Furthermore, Palm oil plantations are rapidly encroaching on the last remnants of primary rainforest. The rainforest was also greatly destroyed due to the forest fires in 1997 to 1998 which were started by people and coincided with an exceptional drought season of El Ni�o.
Biological Diversity

Researchers scouring swamps in the heart of Borneo island have discovered a venomous species of snake that can change its skin color. Scientists named their find the Kapuas mud snake, and speculated it might only occur in the Kapuas River drainage system.
Borneo is the third largest island in the world. In prehistoric time it was related to the Asian mainland due to geological and climate changes. The recent ice age during the Pleistocene and the Holocene separation from the mainland had caused extinction and speciation of fauna on the island.

The high complexity of the Bornean tropical rain forest has created many niches to accommodate rich diversity of fauna. Some fauna are specialised and some coexisted by having niche separation to avoid inter and intra-specific competition within the same habitat. Ecological separation can be in the form of different feeding guilds, niche separation by stratification and different utilisation strategies by being diurnal or nocturnal. For example, vertebrate fauna (birds and mammals) can be defined into six communities based on vertical stratification of the rainforest. First, the small mammals and birds use the forest ground floor and underground.

Second, the large herbivours and carnivorous animals range the ground floor of the forest searching for food, shelter and breed. Third, omnivorous and carnivorous mammals range up and down tree trunk from forest floor to the canopy level. Fourth, are mainly volant mammals such as bats and birds using the middle canopy. Fifth, are top canopy birds and mammals that feed on leaves, fruits, nectar and insects. Sixth, are the fast flying birds and bats using the above canopy area.


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