Map Reference: Borneo, Java & The Philippines Geo006
Borneo and Java belong to the Sunda Islands - a group of islands extending from the Malay Peninsula to the Moluccas South East of the Asiatic mainland towards New Guinea. The Greater Sundas include Sunatra, Java, Borneo and Celebes and the Lesser Sundras Sumba, Flores and Timor.
Borneo, the largest island in Asia - larger than Germany & Britain combined, is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. The Borneo rainforest, at 130 million years old, is one of the few remaining natural habitats for the endangered Borneo Orangatan, & the world's largest limestone cave system can be found in Mulu National Park.
Formed mostly as a result of volcanic eruptions, Java is the fifth largest island in Indonesia. Land is created on Java as a result of lava flows and volcanoes are a major contributor to the immesnse fertility of Java and the lush green paddy fields that can be found there. Java is divided into four provinces - West Java, Central Java, East Java and Banten and two special regions - Jakarta and Yogyakarta.
The history of The Philippine's is believed to have begun with the arrival of the first humans, using rafts as boats, at least 67,000 years ago. The Philippines, comprising 7,641 islands, are classified as an archipelago - an expanse of water with many scattered islands. First discovered by Europeans in 1521 - the Magellan-Elcano Circumnavigation was the first voyage around the world in a single expedition. The Spanish fleet, under command of Ferdinand Magellan, consisted of five ships - Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepcion, Santiago and Victoria. The voyage first sighted the mountains of Samar, in March 1521, and claimed for the King of Spain possession of the islands they had seen, naming them the Arhipalego of St Lazarus, after making landfall on the unihabitated island of Homonhon on the Feast of St Lazarus Day.
Prior to Spanish colonisation, the Battle of Mactan was fought in The Philippine's in April 1521. Warriors of Lapu-Lapu, a native chiefton of the island of Mactan, fought to defend local interests - tribal wars common to the archipalego. They over powered and defeated the Spanish, killing Ferdinand Magellan, and delaying Spanish colonisation of the islands by forty years. Only one ship, the Victoria, completed the full circumnavigation back to Spain, under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano.