Open main menu

In′dian or Malay′ Arch′ipel′ago is the most important system of island groups in the world.  It is bounded on the north by the China Sea, on the east by the Pacific, south and west by Australia and the Indian Ocean.  There are three principal groups, the first comprising the Molucca Islands, Spice Islands and the Philippines; the second including Sumatra, Java and the Sunda Islands; the third being made up of Borneo, the Celebes and smaller islands.  The chief islands for trade are Java, Sumatra, the Moluccas and Borneo.  Native rajahs or princes rule over several of the islands, which are inhabited by Malays, but most of the islands belong to the Dutch.  The main products are sugar, coffee, indigo, rice and tea.  Gum elastic, resin, pepper, rattans, drugs, ivory and opium are also exported.  Fine timber trees abound, and the vegetation is most luxuriant.  See Malay Archipelago by Wallace and History of Java by Raffles.