Special Air Service
The Special Air Service is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, reconstituted as a corps in 1950; the unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue. Much of the information and actions regarding the SAS is classified, is not commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the sensitivity of their operations; the corps consists of the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component under operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, as well as the 21st Special Air Service Regiment and the 23rd Special Air Service Regiment, which are reserve units under operational command of the 1st Intelligence and Reconnaissance Brigade. The Special Air Service traces its origins to the Second World War, it was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment. The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, part of the regular army, gained fame and recognition worldwide after its televised rescue of all but one of the hostages held during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.
The Special Air Service was a unit of the British Army during the Second World War, formed in July 1941 by David Stirling and called "L" Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade—the "L" designation and Air Service name being a tie-in to a British disinformation campaign, trying to deceive the Axis into thinking there was a paratrooper regiment with numerous units operating in the area. It was conceived as a commando force to operate behind enemy lines in the North African Campaign and consisted of five officers and 60 other ranks, its first mission, in November 1941, was a parachute drop in support of the Operation Crusader offensive. Due to German resistance and adverse weather conditions, the mission was a disaster, its second mission was a major success. Transported by the Long Range Desert Group, it attacked three airfields in Libya, destroying 60 aircraft with the loss of 2 men and 3 jeeps. In September 1942, it was renamed 1st SAS, consisting at that time of four British squadrons, one Free French, one Greek, the Folboat Section.
In January 1943, Colonel Stirling was captured in Tunisia and Paddy Mayne replaced him as commander. In April 1943, the 1st SAS was reorganised into the Special Raiding Squadron under Mayne's command and the Special Boat Squadron was placed under the command of George Jellicoe; the Special Raiding Squadron fought in Sicily and Italy along with the 2nd SAS, formed in North Africa in 1943 in part by the renaming of the Small Scale Raiding Force. The Special Boat Squadron fought in the Aegean Islands and Dodecanese until the end of the war. In 1944 the SAS Brigade was formed from the British 1st and 2nd SAS, the French 3rd and 4th SAS and the Belgian 5th SAS, it was tasked with parachute operations behind the German lines in France and carried out operations supporting the Allied advance through France, the Netherlands, into Germany. As a result of Hitler's issuing of the Commando Order on 18 October 1942, the members of the unit faced the additional danger that they would be summarily executed if captured by the Germans.
In July 1944, following Operation Bulbasket, 34 captured SAS commandos were summarily executed by the Germans. In October 1944, in the aftermath of Operation Loyton another 31 captured SAS commandos were summarily executed by the Germans. At the end of the war the British government saw no further need for the force and disbanded it on 8 October 1945; the following year it was decided there was a need for a long-term deep-penetration commando unit and a new SAS regiment was to be raised as part of the Territorial Army. The Artists Rifles, raised in 1860 and headquartered at Dukes Road, took on the SAS mantle as 21st SAS Regiment on 1 January 1947. In 1950, a 21 SAS squadron was raised to fight in the Korean War. After three months of training in Britain, it was informed that the squadron would no longer be required in Korea and so it instead volunteered to fight in the Malayan Emergency. Upon arrival in Malaya, it came under the command of "Mad Mike" Mike Calvert, forming a new unit called the Malayan Scouts.
Calvert had formed one squadron from 100 volunteers in the Far East, which became A Squadron—the 21 SAS squadron became B Squadron. The Rhodesians were replaced by a New Zealand squadron. By this time the need for a regular army SAS regiment had been recognised. In 1959 the third regiment, the 23rd SAS Regiment, was formed by renaming the Reserve Reconnaissance Unit, which had succeeded MI9 and whose members were experts in escape and evasion. Since serving in Malaya, men from the regular army 22 SAS Regiment have taken part in covert reconnaissance and surveillance by patrols and some larger scale raiding missions in Borneo. An operation against communist guerillas included the Battle of Mirbat in the Oman, they have taken part in operations in the Aden Emergency, Northern Ireland, Gambia. Their Special projects team assisted the West German counterterrorism group GSG 9 at Mogadishu; the SAS counter terrorist wing famously took part in a hostage rescue operation dur
Sir John Vincent Hurt was an English actor whose screen and stage career spanned more than 50 years. Hurt was regarded as one of Britain's finest actors. Hurt came to prominence for his role as Richard Rich in the film A Man for All Seasons and gained BAFTA Award nominations for his portrayals of Timothy Evans in 10 Rillington Place and Quentin Crisp in television film The Naked Civil Servant – winning his first BAFTA for the latter, he played Caligula in the BBC TV series I, Claudius. Hurt's performance in the prison drama Midnight Express brought him international renown and earned Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards, along with an Academy Award nomination, his BAFTA-nominated portrayal of astronaut Kane, in science-fiction horror Alien, yielded a scene, named by several publications as one of the most memorable in cinematic history. Hurt earned his third competitive BAFTA, along with his second Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, as Joseph Merrick in David Lynch's biopic The Elephant Man. Other significant roles during the 1980s included Bob Champion in biopic Champions, Mr. Braddock in the Stephen Frears drama The Hit, Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four and Stephen Ward in the drama depicting the Profumo affair, Scandal.
Hurt was again BAFTA-nominated for his work in Irish drama The Field and played the primary villain, James Graham, in the epic adventure Rob Roy. His films include the Harry Potter film series, the Hellboy films, supernatural thriller The Skeleton Key, western The Proposition, political thriller V for Vendetta, sci-fi adventure Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the Cold War espionage film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Hurt reprised his role as Quentin Crisp in An Englishman in New York, which brought his seventh BAFTA nomination, he portrayed the War Doctor in BBC TV series Doctor Who in 2013. Hurt possessed what was described as the "most distinctive voice in Britain", his voice acting career encompassed films such as Watership Down, The Lord of the Rings, The Plague Dogs, The Black Cauldron and Dogville, as well as BBC TV series Merlin. In 2012, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement BAFTA Award, in recognition of his "outstanding contribution to cinema", he was knighted in 2015 for his services to drama.
Hurt was born on 22 January 1940 in Chesterfield, the son of Phyllis, an engineer and one-time actress, Arnold Herbert Hurt, a mathematician who became a Church of England clergyman and served as vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Derbyshire. Hurt's father was Vicar of St John's parish in Sunderland, County Durham. In 1937, he moved his family to Derbyshire, where he became Perpetual Curate of Holy Trinity Church; when Hurt was five, his father became the vicar of St Stephen's Church in Woodville and remained there until 1952. At the age of eight, Hurt was sent to the Anglican St Michael's Preparatory School in Otford, where he developed his passion for acting, he decided he wanted to become an actor after his first role as a girl in a school production of The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck. Hurt stated that while he was a pupil at the school he was abused by a senior master who would remove his two false front teeth and put his tongue in the boys' mouths, would rub their faces with his stubble, that the experience affected him hugely.
Hurt, when aged 12, became a boarder at Lincoln School because he had failed the entrance examination for admission to his brother's school. His headmaster at Lincoln School laughed when Hurt told him he wanted to be an actor, telling him "Well, you may be alright in school plays but you wouldn't stand a chance in the profession". Hurt's father moved to St Aidan's Church in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire. In a Guardian interview Hurt states the family lived in a vicarage opposite a cinema but he was not allowed there to see films, as these were "frowned upon". However, watching theatre was considered "fine" and encouraged by his mother who took him to the repertory theatre in Cleethorpes, his parents disliked his acting ambitions and encouraged him to become an art teacher instead. Aged 17, Hurt enrolled in Grimsby Art School, where he studied art. In 1959, he won a scholarship allowing him to study for an Art Teacher's Diploma at Saint Martin's School of Art in London. Despite the scholarship, paying his tuition fees and living expenses was difficult, so he persuaded some of his friends to pose naked and sold the portraits.
In 1960, he won a scholarship to RADA, where he trained for two years. Hurt's first film was The Wild and the Willing, but his first major role was as Richard Rich in A Man for All Seasons, he played Timothy Evans, hanged for murders committed by his landlord John Christie, in 10 Rillington Place, earning him his first BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His portrayal of Quentin Crisp in the TV play The Naked Civil Servant gave him prominence and earned him the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor; the following year, Hurt won further acclaim for his bravura performance as the Roman emperor Caligula in the BBC drama serial, I, Claudius. In a much documentary about the series, I Claudius: A Television Epic, Hurt revealed that he had declined the role when it was first offered to him, but that series director Herbert
Sir Roger George Moore was an English actor best known for playing British secret agent James Bond in seven feature films from 1973 to 1985, beginning with Live and Let Die. He was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for services to charity. In 2007, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in film. In 2008, the French government appointed him a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Roger Moore was born on 14 October 1927 in London, he was the only child of George Alfred Moore, a policeman, Lillian "Lily". His mother was born in India, to an English family, he attended Battersea Grammar School, but was evacuated to Holsworthy in Devon during the Second World War, attended Launceston College in Cornwall. He was further educated at Dr Challoner's Grammar School in Buckinghamshire. Moore apprenticed at an animation studio, but was fired after he made a mistake with some animation cells; when his father investigated a robbery at the home of film director Brian Desmond Hurst, Moore was introduced to the director and hired as an extra for the 1945 film Caesar and Cleopatra.
While there, Moore attracted an off-camera female fan following, Hurst decided to pay Moore's fees at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Moore spent three terms at RADA, where he was a classmate of his future Bond co-star Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenny. During this time there, he developed the Mid-Atlantic accent and relaxed demeanour that became his screen persona. At 18, shortly after the end of the Second World War, Moore was conscripted for national service. On 21 September 1946, he was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps as a second lieutenant, he was given the service number 372394. He was an officer in the Combined Services Entertainment section becoming a captain commanding a small depot in West Germany. There he looked after entertainers for the armed forces passing through Hamburg. Moore had some early uncredited appearances in Perfect Strangers and Cleopatra, Gaiety George, Piccadilly Incident, Trottie True appearing alongside an uncredited Christopher Lee. In the early 1950s Moore worked as a model, appearing in print advertisements for knitwear and a wide range of other products such as toothpaste—work that many critics have used to underscore his lightweight credentials as an actor.
In his book Last Man Standing: Tales from Tinseltown, Moore states that his first television appearance was on 27 March 1949 in The Governess by Patrick Hamilton, a live broadcast, in which he played the minor part of Bob Drew. Other actors in the show included Betty Ann Davies, he had a small role in TV in A House in the Square had uncredited parts in films including Paper Orchid and The Interrupted Journey. He was in Drawing-Room Detective on TV and appeared in the films One Wild Oat and Honeymoon Deferred. Moore began to work in television, he appeared in adaptations of Julius Caesar and Black Chiffon, in two episodes of Robert Montgomery Presents, as well as the TV movie The Clay of Kings. In March 1954, MGM signed him to a long-term contract. Moore started his MGM contract with a small role in The Last Time I Saw Paris, flirting with Elizabeth Taylor, he appeared in Interrupted Melody, a biographical movie about opera singer Marjorie Lawrence's recovery from polio, in which he was billed third under Glenn Ford and Eleanor Parker as Lawrence's brother Cyril.
That same year, he played a supporting role in the swashbuckler The King's Thief starring Ann Blyth, Edmund Purdom, David Niven and George Sanders. In the 1956 film Diane, Moore was billed third again, this time under Lana Turner and Pedro Armendariz, in a 16th-century period piece set in France with Moore playing Prince Henri, the future king. Moore was released from his MGM contract after two years following the film's critical and commercial failure. In his own words, "At MGM, RGM was NBG." Moore freelanced for a time, appearing in episodes of Ford Star Jubilee, Lux Video Theatre and Matinee Theatre'. Moore's first success was playing the eponymous hero, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, in the 1958–59 series Ivanhoe, a loose adaptation of the 1819 romantic novel by Sir Walter Scott set in the 12th century during the era of Richard the Lionheart, delving into Ivanhoe's conflict with Prince John. Shot in England at Elstree Studios and Buckinghamshire, some of the show was filmed in California due to a partnership with Columbia Studios' Screen Gems.
Aimed at younger audiences, the pilot was filmed in colour, a reflection of its comparatively high budget for a British children's adventure series of the period, but subsequent episodes were shot in black and white. Christopher Lee and John Schlesinger were among the show's guest stars, series regulars included Robert Brown as the squire Gurth, Peter Gilmore as Waldo Ivanhoe, Andrew Keir as villainous Prince John, Bruce Seton as noble King Richard. Moore suffered broken ribs and a battle-axe blow to his helmet while performing some of his own stunts filming a season of 39 half-hour episodes, reminisced, "I felt a complete Charlie riding around in all that armour and damned stupid plumed helmet. I felt like a medieval fireman." After that, he spent a few years doing one-shot parts in television series, including an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1959
Sir Derek George Jacobi is an English actor and stage director. A "forceful, commanding stage presence", Jacobi has enjoyed a successful stage career, appearing in such stage productions as Hamlet, Uncle Vanya, Oedipus the King, he has twice been awarded a Laurence Olivier Award, first for his performance of the eponymous hero in Cyrano de Bergerac in 1983 and the second for his Malvolio in Twelfth Night in 2009. He received a Tony Award for his performance in Much Ado About Nothing in 1984 and a Primetime Emmy Award in 1988 for The Tenth Man, his stage work includes playing Edward II, Richard III and Thomas Becket. In addition to being a founder member of the Royal National Theatre and winning several prestigious theatre awards, Jacobi has enjoyed a successful television career, starring in the critically praised adaptation of Robert Graves's I, for which he won a BAFTA. Jacobi portrayed a version of The Master in the long running science fiction series Doctor Who. Though principally a stage actor, Jacobi has appeared in a number of films, including The Day of the Jackal, Henry V, Dead Again, Gosford Park, The Riddle, The King's Speech, My Week with Marilyn and Murder on the Orient Express.
He was knighted in 1994 and has been made a member of the Danish Order of the Dannebrog. Jacobi, an only child, was born in Leytonstone, England, the son of Daisy Gertrude, a secretary who worked in a drapery store in Leyton High Road, Alfred George Jacobi, who ran a sweet shop and was a tobacconist in Chingford, his patrilineal great-grandfather had emigrated from Germany to England during the 19th century. His working-class family was of Huguenot origin. Jacobi describes his childhood as happy. In his teens he went to Leyton County High School for Boys, now known as the Leyton Sixth Form College, became an integral part of the drama club, The Players of Leyton. While in the sixth form, he starred in a production of Hamlet, taken to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and well regarded. At 18 he won a scholarship to the University of Cambridge, where he read history at St John's College and earned his degree. Younger members of the university at the time included Trevor Nunn. During his studies at Cambridge, Jacobi played many parts including Hamlet, taken on a tour to Switzerland, where he met Richard Burton.
As a result of his performance of Edward II at Cambridge, Jacobi was invited to become a member of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre upon his graduation in 1960. Jacobi's talent was recognised by Laurence Olivier, who invited the young actor back to London to become one of the founding members of the new National Theatre though at the time Jacobi was unknown, he played Laertes in the National Theatre's inaugural production of Hamlet opposite Peter O'Toole in 1963. Olivier cast him as Cassio in the successful National Theatre stage production of Othello, a role that Jacobi repeated in the 1965 film version, he played film of Three Sisters, both featuring Olivier. On 27 July 1965, Jacobi played Brindsley Miller in the first production of Peter Shaffer's Black Comedy, it was presented by the National Theatre at Chichester and subsequently in London. After eight years at the National Theatre, Jacobi left in 1971 to pursue different roles. In 1972, he starred in the BBC serial Man of Straw, an adaptation of Heinrich Mann's book Der Untertan, directed by Herbert Wise.
Most of his theatrical work in the 1970s was with the touring classical Prospect Theatre Company, with which he undertook many roles, including Ivanov, Prince of Tyre and A Month in the Country opposite Dorothy Tutin. Jacobi was busy with stage and screen acting, but his big breakthrough came in 1976 when he played the title role in the BBC's series I, Claudius, he cemented his reputation with his performance as the stammering, twitching Emperor Claudius, winning much praise. In 1979, thanks to his international popularity, he took Hamlet on a theatrical world tour through England, Greece, Australia and China, playing Prince Hamlet, he was invited to perform the role at Kronborg Castle, known as Elsinore Castle, the setting of the play. In 1978, he appeared in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Richard II, with Sir John Gielgud and Dame Wendy Hiller. In 1980, Jacobi took the leading role in the BBC's Hamlet, made his Broadway debut in The Suicide, joined the Royal Shakespeare Company.
From 1982 to 1985, he played four demanding roles simultaneously: Benedick in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, for which he won a Tony for its Broadway run. In 1986, he made his West End debut in Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore, starring in the role of Alan Turing, written with Jacobi in mind; the play was taken to Broadway. In 1988, Jacobi alternated in West End the title roles of Shakespeare's Richard II and Richard III in repertoire, he appeared in the television dramas Inside the Third Reich, where he playe
Lord Banquo, the Thane of Lochaber, is a character in William Shakespeare's 1606 play Macbeth. In the play, he is at first an ally to Macbeth and they meet the Three Witches together. After prophesying that Macbeth will become king, the witches tell Banquo that he will not be king himself, but that his descendants will be. Macbeth in his lust for power sees Banquo as a threat and has him murdered by two hired assassins. Banquo's ghost returns in a scene, causing Macbeth to react with alarm during a public feast. Shakespeare borrowed the character of Banquo from Holinshed's Chronicles, a history of Britain published by Raphael Holinshed in 1587. In Chronicles Banquo is an accomplice to Macbeth in the murder of the king, rather than a loyal subject of the king, seen as an enemy by Macbeth. Shakespeare may have changed this aspect of his character to please King James, thought at the time to be a descendant of the real Banquo. Critics interpret Banquo's role in the play as being a foil to Macbeth, resisting evil where Macbeth embraces it.
Sometimes, his motives are unclear, some critics question his purity. He does nothing to accuse Macbeth of murdering the king though he has reason to believe Macbeth is responsible. Shakespeare used Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England and Ireland—commonly known as Holinshed's Chronicles—as a source for his plays, in Macbeth he borrows from several of the tales in that work. Holinshed portrays Banquo as an historical figure: he is an accomplice in Mac Bethad mac Findlaích's murder of Donnchad mac Crínáin and plays an important part in ensuring that Macbeth, not Máel Coluim mac Donnchada, takes the throne in the coup that follows. Holinshed in turn used an earlier work, the Scotorum Historiae by Hector Boece, as his source. Boece's work is the first known record of his son Fleance. In Shakespeare's day, they were considered historical figures of great repute, the king, James I, based his claim to the throne in part on a descent from Banquo; the House of Stuart was descended from Walter fitz Alan, Steward of Scotland, he was believed to have been the grandson of Fleance and Gruffydd ap Llywelyn's daughter, Nesta ferch Gruffydd.
In reality, Walter fitz Alan was the son of a Breton knight. Unlike his sources, Shakespeare gives Banquo no role in the King's murder, making it a deed committed by Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. Why Shakespeare's Banquo is so different from the character described by Holinshed and Boece is not known, though critics have proposed several possible explanations. First among them is the risk associated with portraying the king's ancestor as a murderer and conspirator in the plot to overthrow a rightful king, as well as the author's desire to flatter a powerful patron, but Shakespeare may simply have altered Banquo's character because there was no dramatic need for another accomplice to the murder. There was, however; when Jean de Schelandre wrote about Banquo in his Stuartide in 1611, he changed the character by portraying him as a noble and honourable man—the critic D. W. Maskell describes him as "... Schelandre's paragon of virtue" -- for reasons similar to Shakespeare's. Banquo's role in the coup that follows the murder is harder to explain.
Banquo's loyalty to Macbeth, rather than Malcolm, after Duncan's death makes him a passive accomplice in the coup: Malcolm, as Prince of Cumberland, is the rightful heir to the throne and Macbeth a usurper. Daniel Amneus argued that Macbeth as it survives is a revision of an earlier play, in which Duncan granted Macbeth not only the title of Thane of Cawdor, but the "greater honor" of Prince of Cumberland. Banquo's silence may be a survival from the posited earlier play, in which Macbeth was the legitimate successor to Duncan. Banquo is as both a human and a ghost; as significant as he is to the plot, he has fewer lines than the insignificant Ross, a Scottish nobleman who survives the play. In the second scene of the play, King Duncan describes the manner in which Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, Banquo, Thane of Lochaber, bravely led his army against invaders, fighting side by side. In the next scene and Macbeth, returning from the battle together, encounter the Three Witches, who predict that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor, king.
Banquo, sceptical of the witches, challenges them to predict his own future, they foretell that Banquo will never himself take the throne, but will beget a line of kings. Banquo remains sceptical after the encounter, wondering aloud if evil can speak the truth, he warns Macbeth that evil will offer men a small, hopeful truth only to catch them in a deadly trap. When Macbeth kills the king and takes the throne, Banquo—the only one aware of this encounter with the witches—reserves judgment for God, he is unsure whether Macbeth committed regicide to gain the throne, but muses in a soliloquy that "I fear / Thou play'dst most foully for't". He pledges loyalty. Worried that Banquo's descendants and not his own will rule Scotland, Macbeth sends two men, a Third Murderer, to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. During the melee, Banquo holds off the assailants so that Fleance is himself killed; the ghost of Banquo returns to haunt Macbeth at the banquet in Act Three, Scene Four. A terrified Macbeth sees him
Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java, west of Sulawesi, east of Sumatra; the island is politically divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, Indonesia to the south. 73% of the island is Indonesian territory. In the north, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up about 26% of the island. Additionally, the Malaysian federal territory of Labuan is situated on a small island just off the coast of Borneo; the sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about 1% of Borneo's land area. A little more than half of the island is in the Northern Hemisphere including Brunei and the Malaysian portion, while the Indonesian portion spans both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world; the island is known by many names. Internationally it is known as Borneo, after Brunei, derived from European contact with the kingdom in the 16th century during the Age of Exploration.
The name Brunei derives from the Sanskrit word váruṇa, meaning either "water" or Varuna, the Vedic god of rain. Indonesian natives called it Kalimantan, derived from the Sanskrit word Kalamanthana, meaning "burning weather island". In earlier times, the island was known by other names. In 977, Chinese records began to use the term Bo-ni to refer to Borneo. In 1225, it was mentioned by the Chinese official Chau Ju-Kua; the Javanese manuscript Nagarakretagama, written by Majapahit court poet Mpu Prapanca in 1365, mentioned the island as Nusa Tanjungnagara, which means the island of the Tanjungpura Kingdom. 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, the Java Sea and Karimata Strait to the south. To the west of Borneo are the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. To the south and east are islands of Indonesia: Java and Sulawesi, respectively. To the northeast are the Philippine Islands. With an area of 743,330 square kilometres, it is the third-largest island in the world, is the largest island of Asia.
Its highest point is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, with an elevation of 4,095 m. Before sea levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age, Borneo was part of the mainland of Asia, with Java and Sumatra, the upland regions of a peninsula that extended east from present day Indochina; the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand now submerge the former low-lying areas of the peninsula. Deeper waters separating Borneo from neighbouring Sulawesi prevented a land connection to that island, creating the divide known as Wallace's Line between Asian and Australia-New Guinea biological regions; the largest river system is the Kapuas in West Kalimantan, with a length of 1,000 km. Other major rivers include the Mahakam in East Kalimantan, the Barito in South Kalimantan, Rajang in Sarawak and Kinabatangan in Sabah. Borneo has significant cave systems. In Sarawak, the Clearwater Cave has one of the world's longest underground rivers while Deer Cave is home to over three million bats, with guano accumulated to over 100 metres deep.
The Gomantong Caves in Sabah has been dubbed as the "Cockroach Cave" due to the presence of millions of cockroaches inside the cave. The Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak and Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Karst in East Kalimantan which a karst areas contains thousands of smaller caves; the Borneo rainforest is estimated to be around 140 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world. It is the centre of the evolution and distribution of many endemic species of plants and animals, the rainforest is one of the few remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean orangutan, it is an important refuge for many endemic forest species, including the Borneo elephant, the eastern Sumatran rhinoceros, the Bornean clouded leopard, the hose's palm civet and the dayak fruit bat. Peat swamp forests occupy the entire coastline of Borneo; the soil of the peat swamp are comparatively infertile, while it is known to be the home of various bird species such as the hook-billed bulbul, helmeted hornbill and rhinoceros hornbill.
There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo. There are about 440 freshwater fish species in Borneo; the Borneo river shark is known only from the Kinabatangan River. In 2010, the World Wide Fund for Nature stated that 123 species have been discovered in Borneo since the "Heart of Borneo" agreement was signed in 2007; the WWF has classified the island into seven distinct ecoregions. Most are lowland regions: Borneo lowland rain forests cover most of the island, with an area of 427,500 square kilometres; the Borneo montane rain forests lie in the central highlands of the island, above the 1,000 metres elevation. The Tropical and subtropical grasslands and shrublands on South Kalimantan; the highest elevations of Mount Kinabalu are home to the Kinabalu mountain alpine meadow, an alpine shrubland notable for its numerous endemic species, including many orchids. The island had extensive rainforest cover, but the area w