—Moluccan, adj., n./meuh luk"euhz/, n. (used with a pl. v.)a group of islands in Indonesia, between Sulawesi (Celebes) and New Guinea. 995,000; ab. 30,000 sq. mi. (78,000 sq. km). Also called Molucca Islands, Spice Islands.
* * *Island group (pop., 1999 est.: 2,223,000), eastern Indonesia, lying between Sulawesi and New Guinea.The Moluccas comprise three large islands (Halmahera, Ceram, and Buru) and many smaller ones. Their combined area is about 30,066 sq mi (77,871 sq km). They constitute the Indonesian provinces of Maluku and North Maluku; the provincial capitals are, respectively, Ambon and Ternate. The population is ethnically diverse, including Malays and Papuans and people of Dutch, Portuguese, and Javanese descent. Known as the "Spice Islands," the Moluccas were part of the Asian spice trade before being discovered by the Portuguese in 1511, and they were fought over by the Spanish, English, and Dutch, eventually coming under the Dutch. Occupied by the Japanese during World War II, the islands were afterward incorporated into the state of East Indonesia and then into the Republic of Indonesia in 1949.
* * *▪ islands, IndonesiaIndonesian islands of the Malay Archipelago, lying between Celebes on the west, New Guinea on the east, the Arafura Sea and Timor on the south, and the Philippines, Philippine Sea, and Pacific Ocean on the north. Their combined area is about 28,767 square miles (74,505 square km). The islands constitute the Indonesian provinsi (province) of Maluku (q.v.), which is subdivided as follows: (1) Maluku Utara kabupaten (regency), comprising Ternate, Morotai, Bacan, Sula, and Obi islands and the northern and southern portions of Halmahera island; (2) Halmahera Tengah regency, which includes the islands of Tidore and Gebe and the central and eastern parts of Halmahera; (3) Maluku Tengah regency, which includes Ceram, Baru, Haruku, Saparua, the Ceram Sea, the Banda Sea islands, and the island of Ambon outside the kotamadya (municipality) of Ambon; (4) the municipality, or city, of Ambon, which is the capital of Maluku provinsi; and (5) Maluku Tenggara regency, embracing the Kai, Aru, and Tanimbar islands, the islands of Wetar and Barbar, and the other small islands between these.The cloves of the northern Moluccas and the nutmeg of the central islands were traded in Asia long before Europeans heard of the Spice Islands. The Portuguese arrived in 1511, beginning many decades of conflict, first with the reigning sultans of Ternate and Tidore, later among the Spanish, English, and Dutch, with the latter eventually triumphing. The struggles for control of the region caused great losses of life during this period. The victorious Dutch earned large profits, but by the end of the 18th century, the spice trade had greatly diminished, and the Moluccas became an economic backwater. The islands were incorporated into the state of East Indonesia set up by the Dutch as they attempted to reestablish themselves in the East Indies after World War II. It was incorporated into the Republic of Indonesia in 1949. In 1950 the Christian Ambonese led the southern Moluccas in a temporary revolt against the new republic.Earthquakes are frequent in the Moluccas, and most of the islands are mountainous. Several islands, especially Ternate and Banda, have active volcanoes. The Tanimbar and Aru island groups, however, are low and swampy. The climate of the Moluccas is tropical, with rainfall varying from 80 to 150 inches (2,000 to 3,800 mm) annually in various locations. In some areas the evergreen rain forest, formerly covering most of the islands, has been leveled and the land cultivated. There are patches of open savanna, and the coasts are often fringed with mangrove swamps. The Moluccas are a transition zone between Asian and Australian fauna and flora, and the animal life and vegetation of the islands include many locally unique species.Because the area is a human transition zone between the west (Malays) and the east (Papuans), and because of intermarriage with Dutch, Portuguese, and Javanese, there is great diversity of population in the Moluccas. Christianity and Islām are dominant faiths in the coastal areas, but in the interior most people are animists. Except in north Halmahera, Tidore, Ternate, and Morotai, all languages used belong to the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) family. Food is obtained by hunting, fishing, and collecting the starch sago. Coconuts are widely grown, and the main exports are copra, forest products, spices, and fish. Ceram island contains an oil field. Pop. (1988 est.) 1,741,800.
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