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Jakarta Post

Banda, the nutmeg treasure islands

  • Peter Milne

    Contributor

Jakarta   /   Sun, January 16 2011   /  12:21 pm

The departing ship operated by state-run shipping firm PT Pelni is seen under the shadow of Gunung Api, Banda’s active volcano.The seven tiny Banda Islands in Maluku, located some 250 kilometers southeast of the province capital Ambon, have become such a backwater in recent decades that few people in the country or beyond either know of their existence and of their major historical importance.It’s hard to imagine that 500 years ago they probably held a similar kind of status in international trading importance as the Gulf States do today with regard to oil.As a result of their commercial value, they became the center of developing European colonial geopolitical tensions in the 16th century that led to an amazing land-swap involving one of the Banda Islands and another area of island real estate.As the only source of the world’s supply of nutmeg and mace in the middle ages, the Band...