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The flora and fauna of Kalimantan’s montane and lowland forests is amazing and each is an important genetic resource and wildlife habitat.  The "green gold" exploitation that began in the late 1960s has destroyed more then half its forests, but a turning point is in process. Now the Indonesian government and the local people understand the beauty and wealth of Kalimantan's tropical forests and efforts are being made to preserve them.
Kalimantan’s coastline features mangrove swamps and lowland rainforest. An inland belt of gentle hills and alluvial plains mark the start of the deep jungle. Towering Dipterocarpus trees, valuable ebony, and ironwood trees are scattered throughout. More then a half of the world’s hardwood tree species are here. Climbing rattan palms, vines, orchids, ferns, and pitcher plants are also common.
The wildlife is exotic and unusually diverse, with orangutans only found on Sumatra and Borneo Islands, along with the endemic proboscis monkeys, and other forest denizens including Malaysian sun bears, clouded leopards, leaf monkeys, macaques, and pangolins. Many lizard varieties and pythons live in Kalimantan’s jungles, while crocodiles and the last freshwater dolphins on earth ply the rivers.
More then 600 bird species make the Kalimantan forests their home, such as the sun birds, pheasants, cockatoos, and spectacular hornbills. Also many kinds of beautiful butterflies and metallic beetles, color this world, along poisonous polypods, brightly colored millipedes, and giant walking sticks.

Wildlife spotting opportunities are the best in the heart of Kalimantan or in the national parks or nature reserves. While seeing creatures in the wild is never guaranteed, visitors can at least get a glimpse of their habitats and experience their environment while waiting to see a rare animal or bird.
Kalimantan as a Tourism Destination

Kalimantan is divided into four provinces East, South, Central and West. It has a total territory of 539,500 sq km, roughly 28% of Indonesia’s total land area, but it has only 7% of the total population,  about 14 million.

Kalimantan has an intriguing history of sultanates and traditional Dayak tribes, with a wealth of ecological and cultural treasures that survive deep within the rainforests of the world’s second/third – instead of saying Indonesia’s largest island, I’d say the world’s largest islands, but I don’t remember which is it - largest island. With its legacy of Chinese, Malay, Hindu, Muslim, and Dutch influences, there is a virtual mosaic of traditions flourishing in the bustling seaports and riverside cities to be discovered.

Despite exploration and development, many areas of Kalimantan are still untouched by the Western world. Tourist facilities are relatively undeveloped and visitors are few. Many Westerners you meet are from the oil and wood booms which began in the 1970s. Good roads are only found near the big coastal cities (there are paved roads between Samarinda and Banjarmasin and around Pontianak), but rivers are the main transportation arteries.

There is no volcanic activity here. The island’s central mountain ranges heavily eroded over thousands of years and are separated by broad river valleys. Kalimantan is crisscrossed by giant rivers including the Mahakam, Barito, Kapuas, and the Kayan.

The population of Kalimantan is diverse, thanks to the booming oil, coal, gold and timber industries. Many Indonesians – along with foreigners – have come to Kalimantan searching for work in the last two decades. The native Dayak people live deeper inland along the river banks throughout the interior. Each Dayak tribe has its own dialect and culture, thriving as hunters and gatherers. Other Indonesians consider the Dayaks to be backward because of their previous headhunting and other animist customs. The truth is that they are scrupulously honest by nature, though exposure to Christianity and modern values has muted this trait.

Even with today’s airstrips and boat connections, Dayak territory is still among the most inaccessible on earth. Headhunting doesn’t “officially” exist anymore, though isolated jungle beheadings are still reported – are you sure you want to put this on your website? - as a symbol par excellence of the procreative power of nature, the traditional belief being that a head can save a village from plague and evil spirits.


The province of East Kalimantan serves as a gateway to other destinations on Kalimantan Island. Most destinations, such as the Dayak settlements in the hinterland along the big rivers, can be reached from here, moreover, a visit to Kalimantan does not seem complete without a visit to East Kalimantan.The province of East Kalimantan occupies an area of 211,440 square kilometres. It is the biggest province of Indonesia since Irian Jaya has been officially divided into three. It has a population of more than two million.The forests of East Kalimantan contain a wealth of rare flora and fauna. The black Orchid (Clogena pandurata), Nephents Amularia and Rattan vines growing up to 200 meters long, grow in these forests. So do various species of valuable tropical hardwoods.
Among the animal species typical of Kalimantan, living in the forests are chimpanzees (Pongee pygmaeus), bekantan (Nasalis Larvatus), Mahakam fresh - water dolphins or pesut (Orcela fluminalis) and many bird varieties.
The cultural and artistic traditions of the island's indigenous Dayak population are still preserved in this region, especially in the hinterland of East Kalimantan. Sailing up the streams near the Malaysian border, one can still meet Traditional Dayak settlements than seem to have been little touched by the advent of modernity.


South Kalimantan province lies at the southern end of island and is one of four provinces on Kalimantan. This region known as the Land of a Thousand Rivers, Big and small rivers, wide swamps and lowlands are characteristic of this southern province. Some of those rivers, such as the Barito, Martapura and Negara mark the boundary between South Kalimantan and the neighboring Central Kalimantan with dense tropical rain forests and covered mountainous sparsely inhabited territory. The southern region is a coastal plain, lined by vast mangrove forests. This coastal area is rich in fresh and salt-water fishes.Those three regions are practically separated from each other by the Meratus mountain which spread from the north to south through the center of the province. Many villages and plantations lie along the Barito river course, which runs from the north to south. Like most other regions in South Kalimantan has two seasons, a dry and a rainy. The rainy season lasts from October to April, and dry season from May to September. South Kalimantan covers an area of about 37,000 square kilometers. The population of South Kalimantan consists of two main groups: the Banjar who live along the coasts and make up the majority, and the Dayaks who inhabit the upstream regions of the rivers. The Banjar people are devout Moslems. They are friendly, like to help one another, and have a good sense of humor. They also are tolerant of other religions and respect one another.The friendly attitude of the Banjar, and their hospitality, tends to make visitors immediately feel at home in their midst. The daily languages spoken by the Banjar people Malay and Indonesian although in a distinct local dialect.

Central Kalimantan, is 153,800 square kilometers large, covered with mostly jungle (82 %), while swamps, rivers, lakes take approximately 2 % and agriculture land is about 3 %. Palangkaraya is the capital of this province, on the upper reaches of the Kahayan river.The northern area is mountainous and reaches far into the hinterland, it is difficult to reach. Transportation facilities are limited and much of the terrain is rough. Many rapids are found here. The central area is dense and fertile tropical forest. Almost four-fifths of Central Kalimantan is made up of tropical forests, producing valuable commodities such as rattan, resin and the best woods. 
Central Kalimantan is inhabited by two million people, the indigenous inhabitants are the Dayaks, comprising the sub-tribes Ngaju, Ot Danum, Ma'anyan Ot Siang, Lawangan, Katingan and others. Ot Olong-olong and Penyawung people live in the upstream areas of the Barito and Mahakam rivers. Their livelihood is hunting, moving from one region to another. They have no fixed settlement. They adhere to the old Kaharingan religion, which is a form of ancestor worship, mixed with elements of animism and dynamism. The Ot Danum inhabit the upstream regions of the Kahayan, Barito, Kapuas or Timbering Miri, in the upstream reaches of the Kahayan river. They live in longhouses with sometimes as many as 50 rooms. They are called "betang". The Sandung, is a wooden building to keep the ashes of the family's dead, after cremation. Generally, the bigger sandung belong to members of the aristocracy, such as the descendants of chieftains. The smaller sandung are called kariring. They are found at Tuwung, in the upstream area of the Kahayan River. The roof of a sandung is ornamented with the enggang (hornbill) or dragon motif. The enggang is a ruler's symbol. The dragon is a symbol of the lower aristocracy, or of common people. Sandungs are found in the upstream regions of the Kahayan river, at the villages of Tuwung, Bukit Rawi (north of Palangkaraya) and Pohandut (near Palangkaraya).

West Kalimantan covers an area of over 146.807 sq km, rich in a variety of minerals and precious stones, and remains largely unexplored. Coastal areas are mainly swamp lands with more than 100 rivers sculpting the flat plains. In the mountainous eastern parts of the province, away from the city and plains, there are many Dayak villages. The Dayaks have ancient traditions and beliefs which are expressed in various forms; earlobes elongated by heavy earnings, tattoos, intricate paintings, designs and carvings and wonderful dances of respect, heroism, welcome cure.  West Kalimantan is easily accessible from Jakarta, Semarang, Batam or Kucing at Sarawak by air. Boat and overland journeys provide a rare opportunity to see the interior of one of the world's largest and richest island West Kalimantan is an important and very attractive province. It is rich in history, culture and places of interest for the tourist. The province borders on Sarawak, East Malaysia, to its west are the South China Sea and the Karimata Strait.
There is the well-known Muller mountain range in the east and the Schwaner mountains in the southeast. Various valuable minerals are found on and around those mountains, such as gold, mercury, manganese, bauxite, gypsum and kaolin.
The lowland areas are found around Sambas, Pontianak and Ketapang, the most important towns. Around these towns are the wide lowlands and swamps.
West Kalimantan has a number of important rivers for the transportation of goods and people. However, there are rivers that can be navigated only during the rainy season, when the water is high. During the dry season, these rivers run empty and cannot sailed. The most important rivers are the Kapuas River, Sambas River, Sekayam River, Landak River, Melawi River and Pawan River.  There are floating houses called bandung on those rivers. Bandung are not only houses, but also important transportation means for the people. In it, they move from place to place, sailing up and down the river, stopping at villages to trade.
The hinterland of West Kalimantan is covered with jungle, and still not much trodden by human beings. In the past decades, however, loggers have come to exploit the province's timber resources. The West Kalimantan jungle is rich in tropical hardwoods, rattan, candlenut trees, and various raw materials for industrial and popular needs
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