Europeans first started visiting the archipelago in the Sixteenth Century. For example the famous British circumnavigator, Sir Francis Drake arrived in Ternate in the Moluccas Islands in November 1579. Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and British continued to arrive over the next century. Later, these countries demanded more than spices and began colonising the archipelago. The Dutch ruled the area for more than 300 years and, in 1942, the Japanese arrived in Indonesia and ruled for three years. Indonesia declared its independence on 17 August 1945. It is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation, with more than 250 million citizens.
The durian is the fruit of trees of the genusDurio. Durio zibethinus(pictured) is the only species available in the international market. The durian fruit is distinctive for its large size, unique odour (which some find offensive), and a formidable thorn-covered husk. Its name means "thorny fruit". Durian is widely known in Southeast Asia as the "King of Fruits". The fruit can grow up to 40 centimetres (16 in) long and 30 centimetres (12 in) in diameter, and typically weighs 1 to 5 kilograms (2.2 to 11.0 lb). The British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace described its taste as like a "rich custard highly flavoured with almonds", but with "occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes." (Read more...)
Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist known for independently proposing a theory of evolution due to natural selection. Wallace did extensive fieldwork in the Malay Archipelago 1854 to 1862. In the area he identified the Wallace Line that divides the Indonesia into two distinct parts, one in which animals closely related to those of Australia are common, and one in which the species are largely of Asian origin. He was considered the 19th century's leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and is sometimes called the "father of biogeography". Wallace was also a prolific author who wrote on both scientific and social issues; his account of his adventures and observations during his explorations in Indonesia and Malaysia, The Malay Archipelago, was one of the most popular and influential journals of scientific exploration published during the 19th century. (Read more...)