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(məlŭk`əz, mō–) or

Spice Islands,

Bahasa Indonesia Maluku, Du. Molukken, island group and prov. (1990 pop. 1,856,075), c.32,300 sq mi (83,660 sq km), E Indonesia, between Sulawesi and New Guinea. The capital of the province is Ambon, on Ambon island. The group's many islands include HalmaheraHalmahera
or Jailolo
, island (1990 pop. 138,000), c.7,000 sq mi (18,100 sq km), E Indonesia, between New Guinea and Sulawesi, on the equator. The largest of the Moluccas and irregular in shape, it consists of two intersecting mountain ranges (rising to c.
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 (the largest), SeramSeram,
formerly Ceram
, island, c.6,600 sq mi (17,100 sq km), E Indonesia, W of New Guinea, second largest of the Moluccas; also called Seran or Serang. Its chief port and town is Masohi. Traversed by a central mountain range rising to 9,905 ft (3,019 m) at Mt.
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, Buru, AmbonAmbon
, island, c.300 sq mi (775 sq km), E Indonesia, one of the Moluccas, in the Banda Sea. It is mountainous, well watered, and fertile. Corn and sago are produced, and hunting and fishing supplement the diet.
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, TernateTernate
, volcanic island (c.40 sq mi/100 sq km), E Indonesia, in the Molucca Sea, one of the Moluccas. Forested and mountainous, the nearly conical Ternate rises to the summit of Gamalama, or the Peak of Ternate (5,627 ft/1,715 m), the volcano whose flanks form the entire
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, and Tidore and the AruAru Islands
or Aroe Islands
, group of about 95 low-lying islands, 3,306 sq mi (8,563 sq km), E Indonesia, in the Moluccas, in the Arafura Sea, SW of New Guinea. The largest island is Tanahbesar; Dobo, the chief port of the group, is on Wamar, just off Tanahbesar.
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 and KaiKai Islands
or Kei Islands
, island group (c.550 sq mi/ 1,420 sq km), E Indonesia, SE of Seram, in the Banda Sea, in the Moluccas. It is densely forested with valuable timber; the people are skilled boat builders. The chief island is Great Kai.
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 island groups. Of volcanic origin, the Moluccas are mountainous, fertile, and humid. They are the original home of nutmeg, mace, and cloves. Other spices, copra, and forest products are also produced. Sago is the staple food.

The islands were visited by the Portuguese in c.1512 and thereafter colonized by them; they established a trading center at Ternate. In the 17th cent. they were taken by the Dutch, who secured a monopoly in the clove trade. Twice the British gained a foothold in the islands, which passed definitively to the Dutch in the first quarter of the 19th cent. Local separatists declared a Southern Moluccas republic following Indonesia's independence, but they were crushed. The separatist movement experienced a resurgence following President Suharto's fall from power (1998). The islands have been the scene of Muslim-Christian violence in recent years.


See I. Burnet, Spice Islands (2011).

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References in periodicals archive ?
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An epilogue has been added to this English translation discussing developments for the Moluccas as well as theoretical and methodological issues since the German edition went to press in 2005.
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The map focuses on the Pacific but shows most of the American continent at the right, Magellan's Strait and the Southland as a series of large islands at the bottom, the Marianas islands and the Philippines including the coast of China at the upper left, and Borneo, the Moluccas and Java at the lower left of the map.