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Banda Islands

Date of Submission: 07/02/2005
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Emvironment
Coordinates: S 40°28' - 40°39' E 129°39' - 130°04'
Ref.: 2004
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Description

The Banda Islands were one of two islands groups comprising the fabled ‘Spice Islands’ of the East Indies. Banda was the original and only source of the once precious spices, nutmeg and mace, whose trade had a significant impact on global history up to the 19th century, but particularly in the 15th-19th centuries. It was the ‘Spice Islands’ that Christopher Columbus was seeking when, under the sponsorship of the King and Queen of Spain, he sailed westward across the Atlantic. He discovered that his westward rout to the Spice Islands was blocked by the Americas. It remained for the Portuguese to be the first European explorers to reach Banda after the long route around Africa and eastward across the Indian Ocean. The early European reports of the tropical Banda Islands described them as a jewel-like cluster surrounded by crystal waters and brilliant coral reefs, containing hills lined with aromatic spice trees on which perched flocks of green and red parrots, suggested to be the most beautiful cluster of islands in Maluku. That description could equally apply today. The Banda Islands, are situated in the eastern part of the Indo-Malayan archipelago, are a group of eleven small volcanic islands, namely Neira, Gunung Api, Banda Besar, Rhun, Ai, Hatta, Syahrir, karaka, Manukan, Nailaka and Batu Kapal, with an approximately land area of 8,150ha. Since the entire mini-archipelago of Banda Islands was of volcanic origin, the islands were originally dominated by lush rainforest on volcanic soils. Being so close to the equator 4 deg 31’ S, the islands have a high temperature (circa 29°C)throughout the year, though the surrounding sea buffers the islands from extreme temperature. These conditions, in addition to the island’s geological and climatic history have facilitated speciation and high species diversity. Consequently, Banda Islands creates a spectacular habitat for marine biota to live, grow and reproduce, representing some of the most species rich marine environment on Earth not withstanding the small total area of the Banda reef environment.