chapter  1
10 Pages

Introduction

Borneo,1 the world’s third largest island (after Greenland and Papua New Guinea), straddles the equator, which slices the island’s 754,000 square kilometre (290,000 square miles) area into two almost equal halves. Geographically, the island, strategically located in a central position in archipelagic Southeast Asia, was (and still is) off the world’s major trade route. The Straits of Melacca prevented Borneo taking a role as a major player in the region. Historically Borneo had been the bridesmaid to more dominant territories. Java to the south and Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula to the southwest had greatly impacted on Southeast Asia’s past developments while Borneo, despite its size, stood on the sidelines. More than anything it was the physical environment that ensured that Borneo took a backseat in most fields of endeavour – urbanization, modernization, telecommunications, transportation, and others.