Destination Information Borneo

Your stay abroad in Borneo

Country information

Borneo

As the third largest island in the world, Borneo offers a wide range of different habitats such as rainforest, mangrove swamps or mountain landscapes. You have the chance to visit a unique country with a culture rich in traditions and close to nature.


Projects

Geography

Geography

Borneo covers a surface of around 751.940 km² and is the third largest island in the world, more than twice the size of Germany. The island is situated at the equator in the midst of the Malaysian Archipelago. The island is divided between the states of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Borneo is subdivided into the Sultanate Brunei, the North-, East-, West-, South and Central Kalimantan and Labuan (Indonesia) as well as the federal states Sarawak and Sabah (Malaysia). The largest and most famous cities of Borneo are the Cat City Kuching (Malaysia) such as the River City Banjarmasin (Indonesia). Other well-known cities are Kota Kinbalu (Malaysia), Pontianak (Indonesia), Sandakan (Malaysia), Balikpapan and Samarinda (both Indonesia).


Flora & fauna

Flora and fauna

Due to its isolated location many fascinating species can be found in Borneo. They have developed over the centuries and do not exist in any other place on the planet. There are many animal and plant species which are typical for the Asian region, but due to the isolation of the island many species which are native to other Asian countries cannot be found in Borneo and the other way around. This is also why in Borneo the oldest and most species-rich rainforests on earth can be visited. Over 15.000 plants can be found in these forests from which most are endemic, which means they can only be found on this island. Borneo is also home to the most orchid species in the world, from which over 750 species are located in the mountain range of the Kinabalu. Between 2005 and 2006 more than 20 new plant species have been discovered in Borneo.

In the past there have been several cases of unknown animal species which have been discovered in Borneo. Among these is, as an example, the Borneo Pygmy Elephant which was discovered in 2003. Moreover, 30 new fish and two new tree frogs species have been discovered between 2005 and 2006. Other endemic species are the proboscis monkey, the orangutan (except for the north of Sumatra), the Bornean ground cuckoo and the Borneo bay cat.


Climate

Climate

Since Borneo is situated at the equator, the climate in Borneo is extremely tropical with a high humidity. Seasons such as we know them in Europe or North America do not exist. There is a dry season and a rain season. The dry season usually starts in October and ends in April, the rain season lasts from May until September. Usually the dry season is a lot warmer than the rain season, but both can last longer then expected. Sudden rainfalls and tropical storms can happen any time.


Social geography

Social Geography

Population

Borneo is home to around 18,6 million inhabitants, whose ancestors mainly come from Malaysia, China, or the indigenous Dayak Tribes. Most of the people live in cities along the coast, but there are also smaller cities along different rivers in the back country of Borneo.

Language

There is no official uniform language; in the different parts of the federal states many different languages are spoken. In the south of the island the inhabitants speak Indonesian and in the northwestern parts you will hear mostly Malayan. In Malaysia and Brunei English is a second official language, in Indonesia most of the population can understand English as well.

Economy

The most important economic sector for Borneo is agriculture, next to the mining of mineral resources like coal and oil. The forestry industry and ecotourism are important sectors, as well.

Religion

The majority of the inhabitants follow the Islam. Due to the political fragmentation in Borneo there are still many different religions which are actively practiced. In the Malaysian part for example, more than half of the population is catholic.


Travel Tips and Trivia

Timezone

Central Indonesia Time UTC+8 hours, no change to summertime

Currency

The currency in the Indonesian parts of Borneo are Rupiah, in the Malaysian part Ringgit and in the Bruneian part Brunei Dollar.

Transportation

In Borneo’s bigger cities the taxi is your best choice, but bikes and small boats are also a good option. For the coastal areas busses and trains are available. Bigger airports are located in Kuching, Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia), Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) and Pontianak and Samarinda (Indonesia).

 

Dos and Don’ts

Dos:

  • You should take off your shoes in/close to temples/mosques.
  • When you are offered a drink as a guest you should take it.
  • Always use your right hand when you eat or hand our/receive a present.

Don'ts:

  • Do not touch anyone on the head as this is considered as impolite.
  • Do not drink and smoke in public. Most muslims refuse these substances.
  • Be aware of the local dress code and do not wear a bikini or shorts when on public beaches.
  • Do not interrupt people when they are praying.
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