Borneo, an island of the East Indian or Malay archipelago, situated directly under the equator, which divides it into two nearly equal parts. It is the largest island in the world with the exception of Australia, and possibly of Papua or New Guinea. Its native name is Pulokalamantin. It extends from about the 7th parallel of N. latitude southward a little further thanlat. 4° S., and from its most western point, near the 109th meridian of E. longitude, eastward to Kaniungan point in Ion. 119° 20' E.; its greatest length, which is from N. N. E. to S. S. W., is about 850 m., and its greatest width about 680 m. It is bounded N. and W. by the China sea, E. by the Sooloo sea, the Celebes sea, and Macassar stfait, which separates it from the island of Celebes, and S. by the Java sea. Its estimated area is from 284,000 to 300,000 sq. m. The northern portion of Borneo is a peninsula with an average width of 120 m., trending from lat. 2° 30' upward of 300 m. in a northeasterly direction. The population is variously estimated at from 2,500,000 to 3,000,000. - Borneo has about 2,000 m. of sea-coast, in which there are comparatively few important bays or indentations, and no great inlets, but many rivers and small creeks.
Along the entire S. coast the shores are low and generally marshy; the features of the E. coast up to Kaniungan Point, and of the W. coast up to Cape Datu, nearly opposite, are similar. The shores of the peninsula, however, are bolder, being rocky and lined with islets perilous to navigation. They enclose several bays of considerable extent, of which the more important are:
Maludu bay, which is sheltered by Cape Sam-panmanjo, the N. extremity of the island, and was formerly a favorite resort of pirates; and Labok bay and Gyong bay, on the E. side of the peninsula, with the Unsang promontory between them, where edible birds' nests are gathered in large quantities for the Chinese market. Off the W. coast of the peninsula, in lat. 5° 22' N., lies the little island of Labuan, the seat of a small but important British colony. - An inland range extending from S. W. to N. E., with an average elevation of from 3,000 to 4,000 ft., forms the watershed of the great northern peninsula. At its extremities it curves outward toward the sea, and terminates in Cape . Datu and Cape Sampanmanjo respectively. Its name changes, in proceeding northward, from the Krimbang mountains, which form the inland boundary of the territory of Sarawak, in the northwest, to the Batang-Lupar, and finally to the Madi mountains, whence the region comprised in the kingdom of Borneo proper slopes down to the Chinese sea. The chain attains its greatest height in Mt. Kina-Balu, the loftiest peak yet discovered in Borneo, 13,698 ft. above the level of the sea. It is near the northernmost end of the island, and as seen from the coast presents the appearance of a vast truncated cone.
The summit, which has been thrice reached by Europeans, consists of syenitic granite, and is about 2 m. in length. Lofty detached mountains are visible to the eastward, apparently at least 7,000 ft. high, and a long chain stretches away in a S. S. \V. direction. The main peninsular range is prolonged beyond Mt. Kina-Balu, and terminates in Cape Sampanmanjo. Apparently unconnected with it and much nearer the sea is Mt. Malu, in about lat. 4° N. with an altitude of 8,000 ft. In the central portion of the island, the Madi mountains form a group whence radiate several ranges toward different parts of the coast. Of these, one extends from Mt. Berin-gin, in about lat. 2° 30' N., easterly to Kaniungan point, and a second, the high Anga-Anga mountains, southward to Cape Salatan, the southern extremity of Borneo; there is also a third range which separates from the Anga-Anga mountains not far from their junction with the central group, and runs westward, as the KamintiRg and Pembaringan mountains, until it is broken up into detached masses as it approaches the 110th meridian. - The navigable rivers of Borneo are numerous. Many of them are deep enough to admit of navigation by larger craft than can pass the bars which in most instances obstruct their entrance.
It is said that on the N. W. coast, between Cape Datu and Cape Sampanmanjo, 23 rivers enter the sea, each navigable for vessels drawing 12 ft. of water to a distance of 100 m. above its mouth. Among these may be mentioned the Sarawak, which has two outlets, its western mouth being situated in about lat. 1° 20' N., Ion. 110° 30' E. The anchorage near the town of Sarawak is 17 m. from the sea. The Batang-Lupar is another large stream which drains the Sarawak territory. Its embouchure, which is 4 m. wide, is near lat. 1° 25' N. and Ion. 111° E. Flowing seaward from within the confines of the same state are the rivers Rejang and Bintulu. Further N. E., in Borneo proper, is the Limbang, Kadayan, or Brunai, with the capital of the kingdom, a town of 25,000 inhabitants, known as Brunai or Borneo, on its left bank. The island of Labuan lies just without the bay or gulf into which it flows. Malu-du bay, which indents the most northern portion of Borneo, receives a stream said to flow out of Lake Kina-Balu, a sheet of water near the mountain of that name, the existence of which is positively asserted by the natives, but which has not been seen by any European. The principal rivers which enter the Celebes sea are the Bulongan, which rises in the Anga-Anga range and flows eastward through the Sooloo dominions, reaching the coast near lat. 3° 10' N., Ion. 117° 30' E., and the Pantai, which has its sources in the same mountain group, and pursues a parallel course down to its mouth, which is about 2° N. of the equator.
The only river of any considerable length which flows into Macassar strait is the Koti, a stream which waters the region bearing its own name, and which is fed by numerous affluents. Its general course is S. E., and its delta occupies the coast region from 10 to 50 m. S. of the equator. The Banjer is the chief of the rivers having their outlet in the Java sea on the S. coast. It takes its rise near the middle of the island, and is a tortuous stream, flowing southward along or near the 115th parallel, and eventually separating into two branches, one of which is known as the Little Dayak river, the other and principal arm being the avenue to the important Dutch settlement of Banjermassin, which stands on its left bank. Other rivers on this coast are the Great Dayak, the Mendawi, the Sampit, the Pembuan, the Kotta-Waringen, and the Jelli. The great river of western Borneo is the Simpang, which drains the extensive region comprised between the peninsular range on the north and the western offshoot of the Anga-Anga mountains, portions of which are known as the Kaminting and Pembaringan ranges.
Its general course is in a westerly direction almost under the equator, from its source in Ion. 114° 10' E. to Ion. 109° 20' E., where the Chinese town of Pon-tianak is situated on one of its main outlets just above the mouth. In 1823 a Dutch expedition in search of gold and diamond fields explored this river for a distance of 300 m. inland. The Sambas territory, further N., is watered by the Sambas river. - The greater part of Borneo belongs to recent geological formations. The shallow seas which separate the island from Asia, and the resemblance between Bornean and Asiatic natural productions, indicate that at no very distant epoch the continent extended further S. W. than at present, and included Borneo as well as Sumatra and Java. No trace of recent volcanic action has been observed in Borneo, though the island is almost surrounded by one of the most important belts of volcanoes in the world, near which earthquakes (also wholly unknown in Borneo) are of weekly or monthly occurrence. The island is notably rich in mineral productions, among which are diamonds, gold, antimony, coal, tin, iron, copper, and lead.
Diamonds occur in the sand and gravel of the river beds, at depths from 6 to 15 ft. below the surface, and in strata occasionally several feet in thickness, whence they are obtained by Malays, who sink shafts in the rivers for this purpose. The largest diamond ever found in Borneo weighs 367 carats. Diamond washing is carried on to some extent in the Sarawak river, which yields small stones of brilliant water; but the largest product is in the Landak district, in the Dutch dominions, 40 in. N. of the equator. Gold is found in Sarawak as well as the districts under the government of the Netherlands, but only as small grains in alluvial deposits. The antimony exported from Borneo through Sarawak constitutes the chief supply of Great Britain. The principal mines are at Bidi, near which some traces of silver have been discovered. Coal of good quality occurs abundantly at the British island of Labuan, and in the Dutch Banjermassin district. It has also been found in Sarawak, and on the Koti river. Excellent iron ore abounds in the south, and is also met with in the northwest. The natives manufacture it into the best cutting blades to be found in the archipelago. A copper mine is worked by the Dutch in the Sambas country.
Small quantities of platinum have been obtained in some localities, but this metal has never been profitably extracted. - The climate of Borneo is remarkably salubrious for an equatorial island. The low regions of coast land and extensive forest are hot and moist, with an average temperature throughout the year of about 70° F. between 6 and 7 o'clock A. M., and an annual rainfall in some places estimated at 300 inches. The wet season on the western side of the island is synchronous with the dry season on the eastern shores, from April to September, at the time of the S. E. monsoon; with the beginning of the N. E. monsoon in September the wet season sets in along Macassar strait and the shores of the Java sea, lasting till April. In the higher districts the climate is temperate and healthy. - The vegetation of Borneo is rich, luxuriant, and varied. The island is essentially a forest country, and abounds in gigantic trees. Brilliant liowers are scarce. The most striking vegetable productions are the wonderful pitcher plants of the botanical genus nepenthes, which here attain their highest development in form and color. They grow on the mountains, and vary greatly in size and appearance. The pitcher of one species will hold two quarts of water.
They are usually green, with red, brown, and purple markings and linings. There are probably 100 species of ferns on the island, and the orchids are well represented. The finest fruit is furnished by the abundant durian tree, which resembles the elm in general appearance. A spiny oval mass contains the fruit in the form of a cream-colored pulp. Other fruit trees are the mangosteen, lansat, rambu-tan, jack, jambon, and blimbing. The bamboo is put to many important uses in the native economy. Among the valuable products of the Bornean forests are bananas, betel nuts, breadfruit, camphor, cocoanuts, ebony, gutta percha, rattan, and sandal wood. The soil is generally very fertile, and yields rice, sago, manioc, cotton, sugar, cloves, nutmegs, poppies, and ginger. Melons and gourds are produced in large quantities, and in addition to the more distinctive fruits already mentioned are found the orange, lemon, mango, tamarind, and pomegranate. - The orang-outang or mias (simia satyrus) occupies the most prominent place in the fauna of Borneo, which, with the exception of Sumatra, where it is rarely met with, is believed to be its exclusive habitat. These creatures frequent the dense virgin forests of the low country, and are not to be found in the dry and elevated districts.
The quadru-mana are further represented by the long-nosed monkey and at least ten other species. There are four species of lemur-like animals. The carnivora are sparingly represented, a species of arboreal panther (felis macrocelis) being the most noteworthy animal of this order. The elephant is occasionally encountered in the north, and is believed to be identical with that of India. The only other large quadrupeds are deer and wild cattle (bos Sondiacus). Wild hogs roam through the forests in vast numbers. There are numerous bats and many characteristic species of squirrels. A curious representative of the insectivora is the small feather-tailed ptilocercas Lowii. Of birds there are parrots, woodpeckers, trogons, pheasants, partridges, hornbills, cuckoos, bee-eaters, and ga-p.ers. Of insects there are honey bees, 2,000 species of beetles, and no fewer than 29 species of papilionidce or gorgeous swallow-tailed butterflies. Crocodiles, tortoises, and pythons and other serpents are met with. The adjacent seas and the rivers abound in fish, which form a considerable article of consumption and com merce. - The principal territorial divisions of Borneo are as follows: 1, Sarawak, an independent state under an English rajah, extending about 300 m. along the N. W. coast, with a population of 300,000; 2, Borneo proper, one of the few Malay kingdoms which remain in the archipelago, embracing the N. W. coast of the peninsula to Maludu bay, population unknown; 3, the Dutch territories on the S., E., and W. coasts, comprising Sambas, Banjermassin, and Pontianak, with an aggregate area of 201,541 sq. m., and a total population in 1869 of 1,189,303. These dependencies are included under the administration of the Dutch governor of Java. - The inhabitants comprise the aboriginal Dyaks and the immigrant Malays, Javanese, Chinese, and Bughis or natives of Celebes. The Dyaks are closely allied to the Malay race, but are more simple and honest, and morally superior in almost every respect.
Their average stature somewhat exceeds that of the Malays; their hair is straight, coarse, and black, and they are well proportioned without any tendency to obesity. Agriculture is their principal means of subsistence. They are distinguished by many excellent traits of character, and when kindly treated are docile, industrious, and faithful. They formerly gained great notoriety as daring pirates and head-hunters, seeking to decapitate others under the belief that every person beheaded would become the slave of the hunter in the next world. The greater portion of them have substantial dwellings, and cultivate rice, the banana, sugar cane, and some cotton and tobacco for their own consumption. They are skilled artificers in iron, and understand spinning and weaving, but have no written language. Dogs and fowls are their only domesticated animals. The distinction between Land Dyaks and Sea Dyaks is founded not upon the localities which they inhabit, but upon the favorite pursuits of the respective tribes, which lead some to cultivate the soil and others to a life on the water. Chinese settlers are found in all parts of the island, and engage in trade, local manufactures, and mining.
The most active traders, however, are the Bughis, who are superior sailors, and visit every section of the coast in their light vessels. - Antimony, spices, camphor, gold, and diamonds are the principal articles of export from Borneo to Europe. The British and Dutch carry on a considerable commerce with the island, the former mainly through the free port of Singapore. - Borneo appears to have been visited by the Portuguese very early in the 16th century. Nearly 200 years later, in 1690, they acquired a temporary foothold in Banjermassin, which they were soon compelled to relinquish. The Dutoh subsequently established themselves on the same coasts, and in 1787 gained supremacy over Banjermassin by a treaty with its sultan. The sway thus inaugurated has been maintained almost continually up to the present time. In 1823 they settled Pontianak. Great Britain made unsuccessful attempts to establish commercial factories in Borneo in the years 1702 and 1774; but owing to the foundation of the state of Sarawak under an English ruler, and the acquisition of Labuan as a colony, British influence is now paramount in the N. W. part of the island. (See Sarawak).