World map highlighting Malay Archipelago. New Guinea—not part of the Malay Archipelago by some definitions—is also included.
|Location||Southeast Asia, Oceania|
|Major islands||Borneo, Java, Luzon, Mindanao, New Guinea, Sulawesi, Sumatra|
|Area||2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Austronesian peoples, Malay, Overseas Chinese|
The Malay Archipelago refers to the archipelago between mainland Southeast Asia and Australia. It has also been called the Indo-Australian Archipelago, East Indies, Indonesian Archipelago, and other names over time. The name was taken from the 19th-century European concept of a Malay race.
Situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the group of over 25,000 islands is the largest archipelago by area, and fourth by number of islands in the world. It includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, East Malaysia and East Timor. The island of New Guinea or islands of Papua New Guinea are not always included in definitions of the Malay Archipelago. The term is largely synonymous with Maritime Southeast Asia.
Etymology and terminology
The term was derived from the European concept of a Malay race, which referred to the people who inhabited what is now Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia (excluding western New Guinea), Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. The racial concept was proposed by European explorers based on their observations of the influence of the ethnic Malay empire, Srivijaya, which was based on the island of Sumatra.
The 19th-century naturalist Alfred Wallace used the term "Malay Archipelago" as the title of his influential book documenting his studies in the region. Wallace also referred to the area as the "Indian Archipelago" and the "Indo-Australian" Archipelago. He included within the region the Solomon Islands and the Malay Peninsula due to physiographic similarities. As Wallace noted, there are arguments for excluding Papua New Guinea for cultural and geographical reasons: Papua New Guinea is culturally quite different from the other countries in the region, and the island of New Guinea is geologically not part of the continent of Asia, as the islands of the Sunda Shelf are (see Australia).
The archipelago was called the "East Indies" from the late 16th century and throughout the European colonial era. It is still sometimes referred to as such, but broader usages of the "East Indies" term had included Indochina and the Indian subcontinent. The area is called "Nusantara" in the Indonesian language. The area is also referred to as the "Indonesian archipelago". The term "Maritime Southeast Asia" is largely synonymous, covering both the islands in Southeast Asia and nearby island-like communities, such as those found on the Malay Peninsula.
The major groupings are:
- Philippine Archipelago
- New Guinea and surrounding islands (when included)
Geologically the archipelago is one of the most active volcanic regions in the world. Tectonic uplifts have produced large mountains, including the highest in Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, with a height of 4,095.2 m and Puncak Jaya on Papua, Indonesia at 4,884 m (16,024 ft). Other high mountains in the archipelago include Puncak Mandala, Indonesia at 4,760 m (15,617 ft) and Puncak Trikora, Indonesia, at 4,750 m (15,584 ft).
The climate throughout the archipelago is tropical, owing to its position on the equator.
Wallace used the term "Malay Archipelago" as the title of his influential book documenting his studies in the region. He proposed the "Wallace Line", a boundary that separated the flora and fauna of Asia and Australia. The ice age boundary was formed by the deep water straits between Borneo and Sulawesi; and through the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok. This is now considered the western border of the Wallacea transition zone between the zoogeographical regions of Asia and Australia. The zone has a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin, and its own endemic species.
Over 350 million people live in the region, with the most populated island being Java. The people living there are predominantly from Austronesian subgroupings and correspondingly speak western Malayo-Polynesian languages. The main religions in this region are Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and traditional animism.
- Indonesian Archipelago (disambiguation)
- Malay Peninsula
- Nanyang (geographic region)
- Moores, Eldridge M.; Fairbridge, Rhodes Whitmore (1997). Encyclopedia of European and Asian regional geology. Springer. p. 377. ISBN 0-412-74040-0. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- Wallace, Alfred Russel (1869). The Malay Archipelago. London: Macmillan and Co. p. 16. "Chapter II. Singapore. ...The native Malays are usually fishermen and boatmen..."
- Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2006). World Population Prospects, Table A.2 (PDF). 2006 revision. United Nations. pp. 37–42. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
- "Maritime Southeast Asia." Worldworx Travel. Accessed 26 May 2009.
- Reid, Anthony. Understanding Melayu (Malay) as a Source of Diverse Modern Identities. Origins of Malayness, Cambridge University Press, 2001. Retrieved on March 2, 2009.
- Wallace, Alfred Russel (1863). "On the Physical Geography of the Malay Archipelago". Retrieved 30 November 2009.; Wallace, Alfred Russel (1869). The Malay Archipelago. London: Macmillan and Co. p. 2.
"If we draw a line ... commencing to the east of the Philippine Islands, thence along the western coast of Gilolo, through the island of Bouru, and curving round the west end of Mores, then bending back by Sandalwood Island to take in Rotti, we shall divide the Archipelago into two portions, the races of which have strongly marked distinctive peculiarities. This line will separate the Malayan and all the Asiatic races, from the Papuans and all that inhabit the Pacific; and though along the line of junction intermigration and commixture have taken place, yet the division is on the whole almost as well defined and strongly contrasted, as is the corresponding zoological division of the Archipelago, into an Indo-Malayan and Austro-Malayan region."
- OED first edition A geographical term, including Hindostan, Further India, and the islands beyond with first found usage 1598
- Echols, John M.; Shadily, Hassan (1989). Kamus Indonesia Inggris (An Indonesian-English Dictionary) (6th ed.). Jakarta: Gramedia. ISBN 979-403-756-7.; Moores, Eldridge M.; Fairbridge, Rhodes Whitmore (1997). Encyclopedia of European and Asian regional geology. Springer. p. 377. ISBN 0-412-74040-0. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
- Friedhelm Göltenboth (2006) Ecology of insular Southeast Asia: the Indonesian Archipelago Elsevier, ISBN 0-444-52739-7, ISBN 978-0-444-52739-4
- Modern Quaternary Research in Southeast Asia, Volume 1
- Shaffer, Lynda (1996). Maritime Southeast Asia to 1500. M.E. Sharpe. p. xi. ISBN 1-56324-144-7.
- Philippines : General Information. Government of the Philippines. Retrieved 2009-11-06; "World Economic Outlook Database" (Press release). International Monetary Fund. April 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-05.; "Indonesia Regions". Indonesia Business Directory. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
- Coedes, G. (1968) The Indianized states of Southeast Asia Edited by Walter F. Vella. Translated by Susan Brown Cowing.Canberra : Australian National University Press. Introduction... The geographic area here called Farther India consists of Indonesia, or island Southeast Asia....
- Wallace, Alfred Russel. The Malay Archipelago, Volume I, Volume II.
- Art of Island Southeast Asia, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art