North Maluku

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North Maluku

Maluku Utara
Maluku Islands Wikivoyage Banner.jpg
Fort Tolukko.jpg
Keindahan Alam Pulau Morotai (27510097198).jpg
Halmahera Island.jpg
Pulau Mala-mala.jpg
Festival Teluk Jailolo, Halmahera Barat, 16 Mei 2011.jpg
Duma Lake Area - panoramio.jpg
From top, left to right: Maitara Island and Tidore Island, Fort Tolukko, Morotai Island, Landscape of Halmahera, Mala-mala Island,Teluk Jailolo Festival in Halmahera, Lake Duma in Ternate
Coat of arms of North Maluku
Coat of arms
Moloku Kie Raha (Four Mountain sultanates in Maluku)
Marimoi Ngone Futuru
(Ternatese: United we are strong)
Location of North Maluku in Indonesia
Location of North Maluku in Indonesia
Coordinates: 0°47′N 127°22′E / 0.783°N 127.367°E / 0.783; 127.367Coordinates: 0°47′N 127°22′E / 0.783°N 127.367°E / 0.783; 127.367
Country Indonesia
Largest cityTernate
 • BodyNorth Maluku Regional Government
 • GovernorAbdul Ghani Kasuba (PKS)
 • Vice GovernorMuhammad Natsir Thaib
 • Total31,982.50 km2 (12,348.51 sq mi)
Area rank23rd
 (mid 2019)[1]
 • Total1,235,700
 • Density39/km2 (100/sq mi)
 • ReligionIslam (74.28%), Protestantism (24.9%), Roman Catholicism (0.52%)
 • LanguagesIndonesian (official), Ternate Malay (lingua franca)
Ternate (regional), Galela (regional), Tobelo (regional)
Time zoneUTC+09 (Indonesia Eastern Time)
Area codes(+62) 9xx
ISO 3166 codeID-MU
Vehicle registrationDG
HDIIncrease 0.672 (Medium)
HDI rank27th (2017)

North Maluku (Indonesian: Maluku Utara) is a province of Indonesia. It covers the northern part of the Maluku Islands; the provincial capital is Sofifi, on Halmahera, and the largest population center is the island city of Ternate. The population of North Maluku was 1,038,087 in the 2010 census,[2] making it one of the least-populous provinces in Indonesia; at the latest estimate (July 2019) the population number had risen to 1,235,700.[3]

The movement of the regional economy in North Maluku is largely derived from the people's economy which relies on the agricultural sector, fisheries and other types of marine products; the main commodities that support economic pulse in North Maluku include copra, nutmeg, cloves, fisheries, gold and nickel. North Maluku's natural products include rice, corn, roasted sweet potatoes, beans, coconut, potatoes, nutmeg, sago, and eucalyptus; the regional economy mostly comes from the people's economy which relies on the agricultural sector, fisheries and other types of marine products.

This area was originally the former region of the four largest Islamic kingdoms in the eastern part of the archipelago known as the Moloku Kie Raha (Four Mountain Sultanates in Maluku), they are the Bacan Sultanate, Jailolo Sultanate, Tidore Sultanate and the Ternate Sultanate respectively. Europeans began arriving in the region at the beginning of the 16th century. North Maluku became the site of competition between the Portuguese, Spanish and the Dutch to control the trade in the region. In the end, the Dutch emerged victorious, beginning the three-century Dutch rule in the region; the Japanese invaded the region during World War II, ousting the Dutch from the region. In the era of Japanese occupation (1942–1945), Ternate became the center of the Japanese ruler's position for the Pacific region; the Japanese surrendered in 1945, briefly returning the area to Dutch control, before being handed over to the Republic of Indonesia after a war between the Dutch and the Indonesians.

The North Maluku province was created by the division of Maluku Province from which it was officially separated on 12 October 1999; as one of the youngest provinces in 34 provinces in Indonesia, North Maluku was officially formed on 4 October 1999, through Republic of Indonesia Law Number 46 of 1999 and Republic of Indonesia Law Number 6 of 2003. Before officially becoming a province, North Maluku was part of Maluku Province, namely North Maluku Regency. At the beginning of its establishment, North Maluku, whose capital was Ternate, was located at the foot of Mount Gamalama, for 11 years. Precisely on 4 August 2010, after 11 years of transition and infrastructure preparation, the capital of North Maluku Province was moved to Sofifi, located on Halmahera Island, which is the largest island.



Historically, the term Maluku referred to the four sultanate centers in North Maluku, namely Ternate, Tidore, Bacan and Jailolo. A certain form of confederation of the four kingdoms which most likely emerged in the 14th century, was called Moloku Kie Raha or "Four Mountain Sultanates in Maluku". Although then the four kingdoms expanded and covered the entire North Maluku region (now) and parts of Sulawesi and New Guinea, the expansion area was not included in the term Maluku which only referred to the four sultanate centers of North Maluku.

The etymology of the word Maluku is not very clear, and it has been a matter of debate for many experts. A common theory says that the term Maluku originates from the Arabic phrase Jaziratul Muluk (جزيرة الملوك), which means "Country of the Kings" (muluk is the plural form of malik, which means king), thus the Ambon archipelago, the Banda archipelago and island groups to the south were at that time not included in the original sense of the term.

Pre-colonial era[edit]

The island of Ternate began to bustle in the early 13th century. Early Ternate residents were residents of the exodus from Halmahera. Initially in Ternate there were 4 villages, each headed by a momole (head of the clan), it was they who first made contact with merchants who came from all directions looking for spices. The population of Ternate became increasingly heterogeneous with settlements of Arab, Javanese, Malay and Chinese traders; because of the increasingly busy trading activities were added with threats that often came from pirates, the Momole Guna Tobona leaders held a conference to form a stronger organization and appoint a single leader as king.

In 1257, Momole Ciko, Sampalu's leader was elected and appointed as the first kolano (king) with the title Baab Mashur Malamo (1257-1272); the Kingdom of Gapi is centered in the village of Ternate, which in later developments is getting bigger and more crowded so that the population is also referred to as Gam Lamo or the big village (later people call Gam Lamo with Gamalama). The greater and more popular Ternate, so that people would rather say Ternate kingdom than the kingdom of Gapi. Under the leadership of several generations of the next ruler, Ternate developed from a kingdom which only served a small island to become the most influential and largest empire in eastern Indonesia, especially the Moluccas.

In the early days of Ternate people was led by the momole. After forming a kingdom, a leadership position was held by a king called Kolano. Starting in the mid-15th century, Islam was totally adopted by the kingdom and the application of Islamic law was put in place. Sultan Zainal Abidin left the Kolano title and replaced it with the title of Sultan; the scholars became important figures in the kingdom.

Opposite of Ternate lies the island of Tidore, the seat of the Kingdom of Tidore. According to the genealogies of the kings of Ternate and Tidore, the first King Tidore was Muhammad Naqil who ascended the throne in 1081, it was only at the end of the 14th century that Islam was made the official religion of the Kingdom of Tidore by 11th King Tidore, Sultan Djamaluddin, who was willing to enter Islam thanks to the preaching of Sheikh Mansur from Arab.

Dutch being entertained by the king of Ternate

Colonial era[edit]

The first European to land in the Moluccas is Ludovico di Varthema, an Italian exploler. In 1512, the Portuguese set foot in Ternate for the first time under the leadership of Francisco Serrão, with the approval of the sultan, Portugal was allowed to establish a trading post in Ternate. Portugal came not only to trade but to control the trade in spices, nutmeg and cloves in Maluku. For this reason, they must first conquer Ternate.

Sultan Bayanullah died leaving the heirs who were still very young; the widow of the sultan, Consort Nukila and Prince Taruwese, sister of the deceased sultan acted as guardian. Empress Nukila from Tidore intended to unite Ternate and Tidore under one crown, one of his two sons, Pangeran Hidayat (later Sultan Dayalu) and prince Abu Hayat (later Sultan Abu Hayat II). While Prince Tarruwese wanted a throne for himself.

The Portuguese took advantage of this opportunity and pitted both of them until a civil war broke out. Empress Nukila's side was supported by Tidore while Prince Taruwese was supported by Portugal. After winning the victory Prince Taruwese was betrayed and killed by Portugal; the governor of Portugal acted as an adviser to the kingdom and with influence had succeeded in persuading the royal council to appoint prince Tabariji as sultan. But when Sultan Tabariji began to show hostility, he was slandered and exiled to Goa, India. There he was forced by Portugal to sign an agreement to make Ternate a Christian kingdom and a royal vassal of Portugal, but the agreement was flatly rejected by Sultan Khairun.

Portugal's treatment of his brothers made Sultan Khairun furious and determined to drive Portugal from Maluku. Portugal's actions caused anger among the people who finally stood behind Sultan Khairun. In response, the Portuguese governor, Lopez de Mesquita invited Sultan Khairun to a conference to negotiate before cruelly murdering the sultan who came without his bodyguard.

The assassination of Sultan Khairun increasingly encouraged the people of Ternate to expel Portugal, even the entire Moluccas now supported the leadership and struggle of Sultan Baabullah, the fortress of Portugal throughout Maluku and the eastern regions of Indonesia were attacked. After 5 years of war, Portugal finally were expelled from Maluku in 1575. Under the leadership of Sultan Baabullah, Ternate reached its peak, the area stretched from North and Central Sulawesi in the west to the Marshall Islands in the east, from the southern Philippines in the north to the Lesser Sunda Islands in the south.

After Sultan Baabullah died, the sultanate began to weaken, the Spanish which had united with Portugal in 1580 tried to regain control of Maluku by attacking Ternate. With Spain's new power strengthening its position in the Philippines, Ternate also formed an alliance with Mindanao to drive Spain away but failed, even Sultan Said Barakati was captured by the Spaniards and thrown into exile in Manila.

The sultanate requested the help of the Netherlands in 1603; the Dutch expelled the Spanish from Maluku. On June 26, 1607 the Sultan of Ternate signed a monopoly contract in Maluku in return for Dutch assistance against Spain. In 1607, the Dutch also built the Fort Oranje on Ternate, which was their first stronghold in the archipelago. From the beginning, unhealthy and unbalanced relations between the Netherlands and Ternate caused dissatisfaction with the rulers and nobles of Ternate. Among them are Prince Hidayat, the Ambonese young king who was also a former regent of Ternate, leading the opposition who opposed the position of the sultan and the Dutch, he ignored the Dutch trade monopoly agreement by selling spices to Javanese and Makassar traders. Meanwhile, the Sultanate of Tidore, succeeded in rejecting Dutch presence in their territory and remained an independent area until the end of the 18th century, but this did not last long because the Dutch East India Company formed by the Dutch to control the spice trade in Maluku succeeded in conquering Ternate and Tidore with an orderly, neat and controlled strategy and procedure in the form of a strong organization. In the end, both Ternate and Tidore as well as other kingdoms in Maluku were annexed into the Dutch East Indies. For the next three century, the archipelago would remain under Dutch control.

Modern era[edit]

The Empire of Japan invaded Maluku early in 1942 as part of its Dutch East Indies Campaign of World War II, ousting the Dutch from the region. Halmahera became the site of a Japanese naval base at Kao Bay. 2 years later, US forces and their allies launched the Battle of Morotai in 1944; bombing the island in August and invading it in September. Imperial Japanese forces on Morotai held out until 1945 but failed to expel the Allied invaders. In the latter part of 1944, 61,000 personnel landed on Morotai.[4] Two thirds of them were engineers, who rapidly established facilities including harbors and two airstrips[4] plus extensive fuel stores; the formal surrender of the Second Japanese Army took place at Morotai on 9 September 1945. The last Japanese holdout from the war, Private Teruo Nakamura (Amis: Attun Palalin), was discovered by the Indonesian Air Force on Morotai, and surrendered to a search patrol on December 18, 1974.[5]

After the Japanese surrendered, the Dutch regained control of the region, before handing it over to the Indonesian government in 1949. In 1957, the Permesta movement was declared in Manado, North Sulawesi, aiming to overthrow the Indonesian government, The movement received support from the United States and Taiwan. In January 1958 the CIA began developing covert support networks to the PRRI and Permesta rebels. Supported by the American, Permesta forces captures Morotai and Halmahera as well as several islands. On May 1958 Indonesian National Armed Forces started to gather amphibious forces to retake both Morotai and the rebel-held town of Jailolo on the island of Halmahera.[6] By May 16 the assault fleet started to gather in Ambon harbour and on May 20 its troops landed on Morotai while élite Pasukan Gerak Tjepat (PGT or "Quick Reaction Force") troops parachuted onto the island;[7] the Permesta force's surrender was as quick as its capture of the island less than a month before.[7] It alarmed the Permesta rebels who had captured Jailolo, many of whom promptly fled back to North Sulawesi.[7] Thereafter the rebellion was largely confined to the Minahassa Peninsula of Sulawesi, where Permesta remnants waged a guerilla campaign until the last unit surrendered in January 1962.[8]

Indonesian Navy Commando Corps on Morotai Beach during the Permesta insurgency

During the administration of President B. J. Habibie, the idea emerged to accelerate development in several potential regions by forming new provinces. Maluku is one of the potential areas for accelerating development through the expansion of the province, mainly because of the pace of development between the northern and southern regions and or between the middle and southeast regions that are not harmonious. On that basis, the government established North Maluku Province (with the temporary capital in Ternate) which was confirmed by Law Number 46 of 1999 concerning the division of North Maluku Province, Buru Regency and Tanimbar Islands Regency.[9]

North Maluku was also the site of the Maluku sectarian conflict. Although the area is more peaceful than the neighbouring Maluku province, there were several clashes between Christians and Muslims in Ternate and Halmahera. Several people were killed in Kao, Halmahera as residents of both faiths and Makianese Muslim migrants fought for three days, and the majority of sources state that the violence had started with the invasion of Sosol, one of the two villages destroyed by the Makianese gang.[10][11] A team of leaders was tasked with securing peace by the regional government, however no modifications were made to the redistricting decision and tension remained;[11] the conflict spread from Halmahera to neighbouring Ternate and Tidore. On 6 November 1999, a several-hundred strong Muslim gang, led by local Makianese political elite and thought to be mostly Makianese refugees, raged through Ternate attacking the Christian minority there also;[12] the police forces of Ternate were only able to guard their own institutions from attack, yet the traditional guards of the Sultan of Ternate, mostly composed of local Ternate Muslims, were particularly effective at protecting the local Christian population from attack.[13][14] The Sultan's guard had both established secure perimeters around areas of the city, including the mostly Chinese-owned business district, and physically stood between the mobs and possible victims in some cases and were later commended for preventing a potential massacre. At least 4 people died, however, and the Indonesian Navy later evacuated the several thousand Christian residents of both islands to Bintung and Manado in North Sulawesi.

The conflict was finally resolved after the Malino II Accord was signed by both parties.


The islands of North Maluku are mostly of volcanic origin, with the volcanoes of Dukono on Halmahera, Gamalama on Ternate still active and the whole of Tidore consisting of a large stratovolcano; the rainforests of Halmahera, Morotai, the Obi Islands, the Bacan islands and other islands of North Maluku have been described by the World Wildlife Fund as the "Halmahera rain forests" ecoregion and are home to a number of plant and animal species unique to the islands, which are in the Wallacea transition zone, containing a mixture of species of Asian and Australasian origin. The predominant trees of the forest are Anisoptera thurifera, Hopea gregaria, Hopea iriana, Shorea assamica, Shorea montigena, Shorea selanica, and Vatica rassak.

The endemic mammals found here include the Obi mosaic-tailed rat (Melomys obiensis), masked flying fox (Pteropus personatus), and three arboreal marsupials, the ornate (Phalanger ornatus), Rothschild's (P. rothschildi), blue-eyed (P. matabiru) and Gebe (P. alexandrae) cuscuses. There are over two hundred different birds on the islands, twenty-six of which are endemic, a large number for this small island group; the endemics include four birds which are the only species in their genera, including the elusive invisible rail (Habroptila wallacii), the white-streaked friarbird (Melitograis gilolensis), and two birds of paradise, the paradise-crow (Lycocorax pyrrhopterus) and Wallace's standardwing (Semioptera wallacii). The islands are also home to the largest bee in the world, Wallace's giant bee (Megachile pluto).[15]

The islands have a tropical rainforest climate.

Most of the natural forest remains on these mountainous islands, although much of the coastal and lowland areas have been cleared for clove-planting since the sixteenth century, especially on the islands of Ternate and Tidore. Logging has occurred more recently on Halmahera and Morotai.

The North Maluku Islands are formed by the movement of three tectonic plates, namely Eurasia, the Pacific and Indo-Australia which have occurred since the time of lime. this movement formed the archipelago volcanic archipelago that stretched from north to south in western Halmahera, including Ternate Island, Tidore Island, Moti Island, Mare Island and Makian Island. Halmahera Island itself is a volcanic island even though volcanic activity occurs only in a part of its territory.

Administrative divisions[edit]

North Maluku Province was subdivided into seven regencies and two autonomous cities, listed below with their areas and their populations at the 2010 Census and at the latest (2014) Estimates. An eighth regency, covering Taliabu Island, was formed in 2013 from the westernmost island in the Sula Islands Residency.

Name Area (km2) Population
Capital HDI[16]
2014 Estimates
Ternate (city) 111.4 185,705 212,527 - 0.771 (High)
Tidore (city) 1,645.7 90,055 96,910 - 0.667 (Medium)
Central Halmahera Regency
(Halmahera Tengah)
2,653.4 42,815 49,698 Weda 0.614 (Medium)
East Halmahera Regency
(Halmahera Timur)
6,571.4 73,109 84,970 Maba 0.632 (Medium)
Morotai Island Regency
(Pulau Morotai)
2,476.0 52,697 60,606 Daruba 0.583 (Low)
North Halmahera Regency
(Halmahera Utara)
3,896.9 161,847 179,783 Tobelo 0.641 (Medium)
South Halmahera Regency
(Halmahera Selatan)
8,148.9 198,911 219,559 Labuha 0.603 (Medium)
Sula Islands Regency
(Kepulauan Sula)
1,783.6 85,215 95,086 Sanana 0.601 (Medium)
Taliabu Island Regency
(Pulau Taliabu)
2,991.0 47,309 50,608 Bobong 0.573 (Low)
West Halmahera Regency
(Halmahera Barat)
1,704.2 100,424 110,528 Jailolo 0.620 (Medium)
Total Province 31,982.5 1,038,087 1,160,275 0.651 (Medium)


In the 2010s, efforts were undertaken to further develop the province. Governor Abdul Ghani Kasuba designated South Halmahera as a tourism region for the province,[17] inaugurating the Widi International Fishing Tournament for that purpose.[18] Kasuba also successfully negotiated with the China-based Jinchun Group to build a nine-trillion rupiah smelter in the Obi Islands.[19]



The population of North Maluku in mid 2019 was 1,235,700 people spread across 10 regencies and cities. South Halmahera Regency is the regency that has the largest population of 227,280 people in 2017 or 18.79% of the province's total population, followed by Ternate with 223,111 people in 2017, or 18.45%, while the regency that has the smallest population is Taliabu Island Regency with 51,928 people or just 4.29%. The population growth rate in North Maluku is 1.98% per year. Central Halmahera Regency is the region with the highest population growth rate of 2.92% per year, while the area with the lowest population growth rate is Tidore of 1.15% per year. With an area of 31,982 km² and a population of 1.2 million in 2017, the population density in North Maluku is 38 / km². The area with the highest density is Ternate with a density of 2,003 / km², while the region with the lowest density is East Halmahera Regency with a density of only 14 / km².

Ethnic groups[edit]

Religion in North Maluku (2010 census)[20]
religion percent
Roman Catholicism
Not Asked
Not Stated

North Maluku has a very diverse population. In total there are around 28 ethnic groups and languages in North Maluku, they are divided into two families of languages based on the language used, namely Austronesian and Papuan. Austronesian groups live in the central and eastern parts of Halmahera, they include the Buli, Maba, Patani, Sawai and Weda peoples. North and West Halmahera are dominated by Papuan-speaking ethnic groups, i.e. Galela, Tobelo, Loloda, Tobaru, Modole, Togutil, Pagu, Waioli, Ibu, Sahu, Ternate and Tidore. In the Sula Islands, there are several ethnic groups such as the Kadai, Mange and Siboyo peoples. Most people in this area have a command of Ternate Malay.


Most of the population in North Maluku is Muslim, with Christians (mostly Protestants) a significant minority. Hinduism, Buddhism, and various other religions are practiced by a small part of the population. According to data in 2017, the composition of religion in this province is Islam 75.34%, Protestant 23.96%, Catholic 0.68%, Hinduism 0.01%, Buddhism 0.01%.[21]


Maritime tourism in North Maluku is based on the area's islands and beaches with marine parks and various types of ornamental fish.[citation needed] There are also tourist forests as well as national parks with endemic species ranked 10th in the world.[citation needed][clarification needed] The nature reserve area consists of several types, both on land and in marine waters such as the Sibela Mountain Reserve on Bacan Island, Nature Reserve on Obi Island, Taliabu Nature Reserve on Taliabu Island and Nature Reserve on Seho Island. Cultural Heritage Areas that have archaeological historical values scattered in the North Maluku Province include cultural reserves in Ternate City, Tidore City, West Halmahera.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Badan Pusat Statistik, Jakarta, 2019.
  2. ^ Central Bureau of Statistics: Census 2010 Archived 2010-11-13 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 17 January 2011 (in Indonesian)
  3. ^ Badan Pusat Statistik, Jakarta, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 102.
  5. ^ "The Last Last Soldier?", Time, January 13, 1975.
  6. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 134.
  7. ^ a b c Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 147.
  8. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 161.
  9. ^ Lembaran Negara Tahun 1999 Nomor 174, Tambahan Lembaran Negera Nomor 3895
  10. ^ Duncan, Christopher R. (October 2005). "The Other Maluku: Chronologies of Conflict in North Maluku". Indonesia. Southeast Asia Program Publications at Cornell University. 80: 53–80. JSTOR 3351319.
  11. ^ a b Braithwaite 2010, pp. 200–201
  12. ^ Braithwaite 2010, pp. 202–203
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference north2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  14. ^ Braithwaite 2010, p. 214
  15. ^ "Halmahera Rain Forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
  16. ^ Indeks-Pembangunan-Manusia-2014
  17. ^ Widi Islands to be the Future of North Maluku Tourism. Tempo, 21 May 2017. Accessed 18 September 2017.
  18. ^ Aria Cindyara, N Maluku to boost maritime sector through fishing tourism. Antara, 24 August 2017. Accessed 30 August 2017.
  19. ^ China`s Jinchun to in vest Rp9 trillion in North Maluku. Antara, 16 July 2016. Accessed 18 September 2017.
  20. ^ "Population by Region and Religion in Indonesia". BPS. 2010.
  21. ^ "Provinsi Maluku Utara Dalam Angka 2018"