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THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF KALIMANTAN

In English, the term Kalimantan refers to the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo,while in Indonesian, the term "Kalimantan" refers to the whole island of Borneo. The Indonesian territory makes up 73 percent of the island by area, and 70 percent (12,000,000) by population. The non-Indonesian parts of Borneo are of Brunei (609,000) and East Malaysia (6,000,000). The region is also known as Indonesian Borneo. Kalimantan's total area is 582,593 square kilometres (224,940 sq mi).


East Kalimantan
A major producer of oil and timber, East Kalimantan is at present the most industrially advanced province of the island. Its population numbers less than two million, and the density figure of seven people per kilometer is among the lowest of Indonesia, although relatively high for Kalimantan. More than 80 percent of the area, or over 17 million hectares is covered by forest.
This is where the "Black Orchid" and many other orchid varieties grow within the sheltered confines of nature reserves.
The Banjarnese and Kutainese are mostly the coastal population, living in the town and cities. The Dayak peoples form the overwhelming majority of the population of the hinterland, live in long houses called umaq daru. It is customary for one whole extended family or even one clan to occupy on long house. Each family is given a separate compartment with the chief of the clan occupying the central chamber.
Guardian statues are normally placed in front of the long house to protect it against evil spirits who bring disease and bad fortune. Such long houses, however, are gradually disappearing and many have been converted into meeting halls or stages for dance and music performances.
The Dayaks are also known for their artistry, making beautiful cloths and ornaments for their traditional houses. The Tunjung Dayaks still make a kind of cloth called doyo, which is woven from certain plant fibers and was used in the past in rituals. But now they are offered for sale to visitors. Oil and natural gas are found along the entire east coast, with refineries centered at Balikpapan and Bontang.

West Kalimantan
West Kalimantan is easily accessible from Jakarta or Singapore by air. One of its main attractions is the culture of its Dayak ethnic groups. Most Dayaks live in long houses along rivers which crisscross the province. The province covers an area of 146.807 square km. Its low plains are swampy with more than 100 rivers playing a vital role in communications and the economy. Scattered across the swamps are several lakes and villages, often linked by bridges. The provincial capital, Pontianak lies exactly on the Equator. It is a fast growing city divided into three parts by the Kapuas and Landak rivers. Pontianak is the main gate to enter this province through Supadio Airport, 18 km from the city. The Kapuas river, about 1.143 km, is the longest river in Indonesia, connecting Pontianak with the Sanggau, Sintang and Kapuas Hulu Regencies. Among the branches of the Kapuas river are the Landak, Kubu, Punggur, Melawi, and Sekayam rivers.
The population of West Kalimantan consist of the Dayaks, Malays, Chinese and some other Indonesian ethnic groups. Dayak dances express respect, heroism, welcome and cure. It is recommended to take a river trip and make overnight stops at villages where dance performances are organized on advance notice.

South Kalimantan
South Kalimantan is one of the 27 provinces in Indonesia and is one of the 4 provinces in Kalimantan (formerly called Borneo).
South Kalimantan is often called the Province of the a Thousand Rivers. One is Barito river, the largest and the longest river in Indonesia which is more than 6,000 km long.
One of its tributary rivers is the Martapura river, which in turn has two tributary rivers of its own, the Riam Kanan and Riam Kiwa rivers. Barito connects with the Negara rivers which branches out in to lesser rivers.
Other important river are Maluku, Tabanio, Sawangan, Asam-Asam, Jorong, Kintap, Satui, Sebamban, Kusan, Batulicin, Sampahan, and Cengal. All these rivers run right from Meratus range and go the out to the Java sea, Maccasar Straits and the Selat Sea.
In 1990 the total population of South Kalimantan was 2.463.792 with a growth rate of about 1.8% annually, 54% of the population earn their living from agricultural, 15% from public services, 13% from the commercial sector and the rest from industry, transport, construction and so on. The minority consists of some Javanese, Maduranese, Banjau, Bugenese, Chinese and Arabs.
The culture and traditions are the assimilation through ages of the indigenous Dayaks, Malays, and Javanese. Then came the influence of Islam which was introduced by Arab and Persians traders. These can be seen from the people's way of life, especially in arts, such as dance, music, tradition dress, games and ceremonies. Handicraft are made from local raw materials. Jewelries made of precious and semi-precious stones are mostly made and sold in Martapura. Rattan and bamboo weaving are from the Tapin district, handicraft made of gold, silver, brass and iron are from the Hulu Sungai Selatan region.Sasirangan is a specific textile design where its specialty of South Kalimantan. The design and method are different from those of other parts of Indonesia. Local fruits are among others : durian, rambutan, pineapple, watermelon, bananas, and kesturi (sweet small manggo).
Kesturi is one of the rare mango species in South Kalimantan. It is a seasonal fruit, available once a year only. It's a small size mango, very sweet, with a specific aroma. Durian, rambutan, butter fruit, pineapple, watermelon, banana, all grow well in the region.
High rate of rainfall and adequate sunshine have made South Kalimantan fertile. Extensive forests with a large variety of tress make South Kalimantan one among the large wood producers in Indonesia. The region is wellknown for its ironwood, meranti, pinus and rubber.
South Kalimantan is connected with cities all over Indonesia through Syamsuddin Noor airport which is 25 km from Banjarmasin. This airport can serve DC-9's and lesser aircraft. Airlines serving Banjarmasin are Merpati Nusantara, Bouraq, Sempati and Dirgantara Air Service. About 66 are routine flights per day. South Kalimantan can also be reached through seaport of Trisakti and Banjarmasin harbour. To towns in Kalimantan there are plenty of good roads. If waterways are preferable, go by boat along large rivers which go to almost every direction.

 

Central Kalimantan
Since the eighteenth century, the central region of Kalimantan and its Dayak inhabitants were ruled by the Muslim Sultanate of Banjar. Following Indonesian independence after World War II, Dayak tribes demanded a province separate from South Kalimantan province.
In 1957, South Kalimantan was thus divided to provide the Dayak population greater autonomy from the Muslim population in that province. It was approved by the Indonesian Government on 23 May 1957 under Presidential Law No. 10 Year 1957, which declared Central Kalimantan the seventeenth province of Indonesia. President Sukarno appointed the Dayak-born national hero Tjilik Riwut as the first Governor and Palangka Raya the provincial capital.
The three major Dayak tribes in Central Kalimantan are the Ngaju, Ot Danum and Dusun Ma'anyan Ot Siang. The three major tribes extended into several branches of prominent Dayak tribes in Central Kalimantan such as Lawangan, Taboyan, Dusun Siang, Boyan, Bantian, Dohoi and Kodorin.
In addition to the indigenous Dayak tribes, the province also groups from other areas of Indonesia, including Javanese, Maduranese, Batak, Toraja, Ambonese, Bugis, Palembang, Minang, Banjarese, Makassar, Papuan, Balinese, Acehnese and also Chinese

Recommended tour package: KALIMANTAN UNCOVERD