BORNEO is the third largest island in the world, covering an area of 743,330 square kilometres (287,000 square miles), or a little more than the twice the size of Germany. The range of highland in Borneo is not volcanic — the whole of Borneo has only a single extinct volcano — but does feature the highest mountain in Southeast Asia: Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, which reaches 4,095 meters (13,435 feet).
There are several distinct ecosystems found across Borneo; mangroves are found in estuaries and coastal regions; peat swamp forests are the dominant form of remaining lowland forest in Borneo today (These swamp forests appear in places where dead vegetation becomes waterlogged and, too wet to decompose, accumulates as peat. These tropical peat lands, formed over hundreds of years, are giant stores of carbon. Draining and/or burning these lands, releases tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Under the dry el Niño conditions of 1997-1998, thousands of fires raged in the peat swamps and they are extraordinarily difficult to extinguish because they can burn for months virtually undetected in the deeper layers of peat);montane forests are generally found at an elevation from 900 meters to 3300 meters in Borneo (Trees in these forests are typically shorter than those of lowland forest, resulting in a less-developed forest canopy). Heath or kerangas forest are found on well-drained, sandy soils that are extremely nutrient-poor (“kerangas” is the indigenous Iban word for “land that will not grow rice”). These forests are characterised by certain tree species tolerant of the poor, acidic soil conditions and are considerably “stunted” in comparison with typical rainforest.
Borneo has a tropical climate and holds some of the most diverse biological repository of flora andfauna on the planet. The Borneo rainforest is 130 million years old, making it the oldest rainforestin the world and 70 million years older than the Amazon rainforest. Borneo is very rich inbiodiversity compared to many other areas (MacKinnon et al. 1998). There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps), 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo (MacKinnon et al. 1998). It is also the centre of evolution and radiation of many endemic species of plants and animals.
Due to mass deforestation, Borneo is undoubtedly the last remaining natural habitat for some highly endangered species such as the gentle great red-ape the Orang-Utan, Sumatran Rhino,Clouded Leopard,, Pygmy Elephant, Sun Bear, Tembadau and Proboscis Monkey; some marine life such as Dugong, Green Turtle and Hawksbill Turtle; and also some plants such as Pitcher Plant, Orchid, Rafflesia and Tetrastigma to name a few.
Politically, the island is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Indonesian Borneo is known as Kalimantan, while Malaysian Borneo is known as East Malaysia. Borneo is surrounded by the South China Sea to the north and northwest, the Sulu Sea to the northeast, the Celebes Sea and the Makassar Strait to the east, and the Java Sea and Karimata Strait to the south. It is the largest island in the Malay archipelago, with an area of 743,330 square kilometres (287,000 sq mi). To the west of Borneo are the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. To the south is Java. To the east is Sulawesi, and to the northeast, the Philippines. Borneo’s highest point is Mount Kinabalu inSabah, Malaysia, with an elevation of 4,095 m (13,435 ft) above sea level. It is the third highest peak in South East Asia, making Borneo the world’s third highest island.
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