Ambon Island

Ambon Island is part of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia. The island has an area of 775 km2 (299 sq mi) and is mountainous, well watered, and fertile. Ambon Island consists of two territories - the city of Ambon to the south and various districts (kecamatan) of the Central Maluku Regency to the north. The main city and seaport is Ambon (with a 2014 population of 368,987), which is also the capital of Maluku province, while those districts of Maluku Tengah Regency situated on Ambon Island had a 2014 population of 132,377.[1] Ambon has an airport and is home to the Pattimura University and Open University (Universitas Terbuka), state universities, and a few private universities, which include Darussalam University (Universitas Darussalam, UNDAR) and Universitas Kristen Indonesia Maluku (UKIM).

Ambon and Lease Islands (Uliasers) en
Ambon (left) and the Lease Islands
Ambon is located in Indonesia
Location in Indonesia
LocationSouth East Asia
Coordinates3°38′17″S 128°07′02″E / 3.63806°S 128.11722°ECoordinates: 3°38′17″S 128°07′02″E / 3.63806°S 128.11722°E
ArchipelagoMaluku Islands
Area803.9 km2 (310.4 sq mi)
Highest elevation1,225 m (4,019 ft)
Highest pointSalahutu
Largest settlementAmbon
Population501,364 (2014)
Pop. density623.66 /km2 (1,615.27 /sq mi)
LanguagesAmbonese Malay
Ethnic groupsAmbonese
Additional information
Time zone
  • EIT (UTC+09:00)
Maluku Islands en
Ambon island in the center of Maluku Islands


Ambon Island lies off the southwest coast of the much larger Seram island. It is on the north side of the Banda Sea, part of a chain of volcanic islands that encircle the sea. It is 51 kilometres (32 miles) long and is of very irregular shape, being almost divided in two. The southeastern and smaller portion, a peninsula (called Leitimor) is united to the northern (called Hitoe) by a narrow neck of land. The bay thus formed cuts about 20km into the island with the airport on the northern shore and the city of Ambon on the southern side. The city of Ambon covers the entirety of Leitimor, with its centre on the northwest coast of Leitimor, facing Hitoe, and has a safe harbor on Amboina Bay.

The highest mountains, Wawani at 1,100 metres (3,600 feet) and Salahutu at 1,225 metres (4,019 feet), have hot springs and solfataras. They are volcanoes, and the mountains of the neighboring Lease Islands are extinct volcanoes. Granite and serpentine rocks predominate, but the shores of Amboina Bay are of chalk and contain stalactite caves.

Wild areas of Ambon Island are covered by tropical rainforest, part of the Seram rain forests ecoregion, together with neighboring Seram. Seram, Ambon, and most of Maluku are part of Wallacea, the group of Indonesian islands that are separated by deep water from both the Asian and Australian continents and have never been linked to the continents by land.

As a result of this isolation, Ambon has few indigenous mammals; birds are more abundant. The insect diversity of the island, however, is rich, particularly in butterflies. Seashells are obtained in great numbers and variety. Tortoise shell is also exported.

The population of the island (administered as Kota Ambon, Kecamatan Leihitu, Kecamatan Leihitu Barat, and Kecamatan Salahutu), including a tiny sparsely populated island to the north, is just below 441,000 in the 2010 Census.[2]


The average temperature is 27 °C (81 °F), rarely falling below 22 °C (72 °F). Rainfall can be heavy, especially after the eastern monsoons, and the island is vulnerable to violent typhoons. The wet season (October to April) coincides with the period of the west monsoon.


Cassava and sago are the chief crops, which also include breadfruit, sugarcane, coffee, cocoa, pepper and cotton. In addition to these, hunting and fishing supplement the local diet. Nutmeg and cloves were once the dominant export crops but are now produced in limited quantities. Copra is also exported. Amboina wood, obtained from the angsana tree and highly valued for ornamental woodwork, is now mostly grown on Seram. The main employers in Ambon Island are the Gubernatorial Office (PEMDA), the Mayoral Office (PEMKOT), Raiders 733 (Indonesian military unit), and Ambon City Center (the only mall in Ambon Island). The whole economy of Ambon Island is starting to shift out of the "Old Towne" (Kota Lama) toward Passo, which is the newly appointed central business district of the island region. The economy of Ambon Island was recently boosted by the investment made by Ciputra Group in creating a whole new satellite city in Lateri, Kotamadya Ambon, Maluku: Citraland Bay View City. Furthermore, the new international standard shopping center, Ambon City Center, opened in 2012.


COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Een vrouw in Kota Ambon (Taman Wisata) toont Zuidoost-Molukse kleding en gebruiken TMnr 20017958
A woman in traditional attire from the Southeastern Maluku Islands

The Ambonese are of mixed Malay-Papuan origin. They are mostly Christians or Muslims. The predominant language of the island is Ambonese Malay, also called Ambonese. It developed as the trade language of central Maluku and is spoken elsewhere in Maluku as a second language. The old creole trade language called Portugis has died out. Bilingualism in Indonesian is high around Ambon City. There have been strong religious tensions on the island between Muslims and Christians[3] and ethnic tensions between indigenous Ambonese and migrants from Sulawesi, primarily Butonese, Bugis and Makassarese migrants.


Colonial era

In 1512, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to land in Ambon, and it became the new centre for Portuguese activities in Maluku following their expulsion from Ternate.[4] The Portuguese, however, were regularly attacked by native Muslims on the island's northern coast, in particular Hitu, which had trading and religious links with major port cities on Java's north coast. They established a factory in 1521 but did not obtain peaceable possession of it until 1580. Indeed, the Portuguese never managed to control the local trade in spices and failed in attempts to establish their authority over the Banda Islands, the nearby centre of nutmeg production. The creole trade language Portugis, however, was spoken well into the 19th century, and many families still have Portuguese names and claim Portuguese ancestry, for example Muskita and De Fretes. [5]

Coat of Arms of Ambon (1930)
Coat of arms of Amboina during Dutch colonial era. The charge in the lower half of the arms represents Fort Victoria.[6]

The Portuguese were dispossessed by the Dutch in 1605, when Steven van der Hagen took over the fort without a single shot. Ambon was the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) from 1610 to 1619 until the founding of Batavia (now Jakarta) by the Dutch.[7] About 1615 the English formed a settlement on the island at Cambello, which they retained until 1623, when the Dutch destroyed it. Frightful tortures inflicted on its unfortunate inhabitants were connected with its destruction. In 1654, after many fruitless negotiations, Oliver Cromwell compelled the United Provinces to give the sum of 300,000 gulden, as compensation to the descendants of those who suffered in the "Ambon Massacre", together with Manhattan.[8] In 1673, the poet John Dryden produced his tragedy Amboyna; or the Cruelties of the Dutch to the English Merchants. The British, under Admiral Rainier, captured Ambon in 1796, but they restored it to the Dutch at the Peace of Amiens in 1802. They retook the island in 1810 but once more restored it to the Dutch in 1814. Ambon used to be the world center of clove production; until the nineteenth century, the Dutch prohibited the rearing of the clove tree on all the other islands subject to their rule, in order to secure the monopoly to Ambon.

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Een groep mannen na de instituering van de M.P. in de kerk op Ambon TMnr 10000762
Ambonese burghers congregating at the church in Ambon town.

Under the Dutch Empire, Ambon city was the seat of the Dutch resident and military commander of the Moluccas. The town was protected by Fort Victoria, and a 1902 Encyclopædia characterized it as "a clean little town with wide streets, well planted".[9] The population was divided into two classes: orang burger or citizens and orang negri or villagers, the former being a class of native origin enjoying certain privileges conferred on their ancestors by the old Dutch East India Company. There were also, besides the Dutch, some Arabs, Chinese and a few Portuguese settlers.

Ambon city was the site of a major Dutch military base that Imperial Japanese forces captured from Allied forces in the World War II Battle of Ambon in 1942. The battle was followed by the summary execution of more than 300 Allied PoWs in the Laha massacre.

A large Far East prisoner of war camp was situated in the north near Liang. This was made up of British men of the 77th HAA, 3rd Kings Own Hussars and some RAF volunteers. The c.1000 men arrived in April 1943 and were marched from Ambon town over two days without food or water (see 1000 men of Liang to follow).

The FEPOWs built the camp including a water pipeline. They were ordered to build an airfield and runway alongside the beach and cleared coconut trees for the task. They did all they could to sabotage construction.

Conditions were horrendous and many men died due to disease, starvation and ill treatment by the Japanese. Many men also suffered blindness due to working chipping at the coral.(More information and pictures to follow)

Conflicts since independence

Indonesia won its independence in 1945–49. As a consequence of ethnic and religious tensions, and President Sukarno making Indonesia a unitary state, Ambon was the scene of a revolt against the Indonesian government, resulting in the rebellion of the Republic of South Maluku in 1950.

In April and May 1958 during the Permesta rebellion in North Sulawesi, the USA supported and supplied the rebels. Pilots from a Taiwan-based CIA front organisation, Civil Air Transport, flying CIA B-26 Invader aircraft, repeatedly bombed and machine-gunned targets on Ambon. From 27 April until 18 May there were CIA air raids on Ambon city. Also, on 8 May 1958 CIA pilot Allen Pope bombed and machine-gunned the Indonesian Air Force base at Liang in the northeast of the island, damaging the runway and destroying a Consolidated PBY Catalina.[10] The Indonesian Air Force had only one serviceable fighter aircraft on Ambon Island, a North American P-51 Mustang at Liang. Pope's last air raid was on 18 May, when an Indonesian pilot at Liang, Captain Ignatius Dewanto, was scrambled to the P-51.[11] Pope had attacked Ambon city before Dewanto could catch him, but Dewanto intercepted him just as Pope was attacking one of a pair of troop ships in an Indonesian fleet west of Ambon Island.[12] The B-26 was brought down by fire from both Dewanto and shipborne anti-aircraft gunners.[13] Pope and his Indonesian radio operator bailed out and were captured,[14] which immediately exposed the level of CIA support for the Permesta rebellion. Embarrassed, the Eisenhower administration quickly ended CIA support for Permesta and withdrew its agents and remaining aircraft from the conflict.[15]

Between 1999 and 2002, Ambon was at the centre of sectarian conflict across the Maluku Islands. In 2007, Ambon resident Leonard Joni Sinay was sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment for treason after he and other activists protested a visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with a dance and a raising of the banned regional flag; both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called for his release, the latter organization designating him a prisoner of conscience.[16][17]

See also


  1. ^ Biro Pusat Statistik, Jakarta, 2015.
  2. ^ Kabupaten Maluku Tengah (pdf). Hasin Sensus Penduduk 2010 Agregat Data per Kecamatan. Ambon: Badan Pusat Statistik Kabupatan Maluku Tengah.
  3. ^ Mardai, Gadis (30 January 1999). "Ambon rioting leaves 100 dead in Indonesia". World Socialist Website. Archived from the original on 15 December 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2007.
  4. ^ Ricklefs 1999, p. 25.
  5. ^ Sneddon, James (2003). The Indonesian language: its history and role in modern society. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. p. 80.
  6. ^ "Maluku".
  7. ^ Ricklefs 1999, p. 28.
  8. ^ Milton, Giles (2000). Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: How one man's courage changed the course of history. Sceptre. p. not cited. ISBN 0-374-21936-2.
  9. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. Article "Amboyna" island and town: The Times, London. 1902. p. 351.
  10. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 122.
  11. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 136.
  12. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 138.
  13. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 139.
  14. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, pp. 139, 141.
  15. ^ Conboy & Morrison 1999, p. 143.
  16. ^ "Indonesia: Surging Sectarian Violence, Papua Crackdown". Amnesty International. 24 January 2012. Archived from the original on 24 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  17. ^ "Prisoner of Conscience Beaten". Amnesty International. 24 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.


  • Conboy, Kenneth; Morrison, James (1999). Feet to the Fire CIA Covert Operations in Indonesia, 1957–1958. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-193-9.
  • Ricklefs, M.C. (1991). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c.1300 (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan. pp. 25, 28. ISBN 0-333-57689-6.

Further reading

External links

Amboina box turtle

The Amboina box turtle (Cuora amboinensis), or southeast Asian box turtle is a species of Asian box turtle.

It is found in the Nicobar Islands, eastern India (Assam), Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, central and southern Vietnam, west Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines (Leyte, Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Panay, etc.), Indonesia (Sulawesi, Ambon Island, Sumatra, Borneo, East Malaysia, Brunei, Nias, Enggano, Simeulue, Java, Sumbawa, Halmahera, Ceram, Seram, Buru, East Timor, Bali, Palawan and Maluku), and possibly China (Guangxi and Guangdong) and Sri Lanka.

The type locality is "Amboine" (or "Amboina") Island, today Ambon Island in Indonesia.


The Ambonese, also known as South Moluccans, are an Indonesian ethnic group of mixed Austronesian-Papuan origin. They are mostly Christians or Muslims. The Ambonese are from Ambon Island in Maluku, an island group east of Sulawesi and north of Timor in Indonesia. They also live on the southwest of Seram Island; which is part of the Moluccas, Java, New Guinea; on the West Papua side and other regions of Indonesia. Additionally, there are about 35,000 Ambonese people living in the Netherlands. By the end of the 20th century, there were 258,331 (2007 census) Ambonese people living in Ambon, Maluku.


Amboyna or amboina can refer to:

Amboina box turtle (Cuora amboinensis), of Asia

Amboina king parrot (Alisterus amboinensis), of Indonesia

Amboyna (genus), a moth genus

Amboyna (play), a play by John Dryden

Amboyna massacre, in 1623 in Indonesia

Amboyna burl of Pterocarpus trees

Ambon Island, sometimes named Amboyna, part of the Maluku Islands of Indonesia

Ambon, Maluku, a city on Ambon Island

Amboyna (play)

Amboyna, or the Cruelties of the Dutch to the English Merchants is a tragedy by John Dryden written in 1673. Its subject is the Amboyna massacre and the death of Gabriel Towerson that took place on Ambon Island in 1623.

Dryden reportedly wrote the play in the short space of a month; he wanted to produce a topical piece, since Britain was at that time at war with The Netherlands. The original production was acted by the King's Company at the theatre at Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Towerson's wife in the play, Ysabinda, is based on his real life wife, Mariam Khan (dates unknown), daughter of an influential merchant at the courts of the Mughul Emperors Akbar and Jahangir.In the stage production by the King's Company, Nicholas Burt played Perez, while Rebecca Marshall played Ysabinda.

Asilulu language

Asilulu is an Austronesian language of Ambon Island in the Moluccas, with some speakers on west Seram. It's a local trade language.

Central Maluku Regency

Central Maluku Regency (Indonesian: Kabupaten Maluku Tengah) is a regency of Maluku, Indonesia. The Regency covers an area of 7,953.61 km2, and had a population of 361,698 at the 2010 Census;. there was an estimate of 434,490 quoted as at 6 December 2012, but the most recent official estimate (as at January 2014) was 402,900. The principal town lies at Masohi, on Seram Island. The regency (kebupaten) is composed of the central part of the island of Seram, the Banda Islands, and the Lease Islands (Saparua, Haruku, and Nusa Laut), together with those parts of Ambon Island which are outside the City of Ambon.

This regency is the second largest in area among Malukan regencies after Aru Islands Regency.

Governorate of Ambon

Ambon was a governorate of the Dutch East India Company, consisting of Ambon Island and ten neighbouring islands. Steven van der Hagen captured Fort Victoria on 22 February 1605 from the Portuguese in the name of the Dutch East India Company. Until 1619, Ambon served as the capital of the Dutch possessions in East Asia. In that year Batavia was founded to function as the staple port for the Dutch East India Company in Asia. The island was the world center of clove production until the 19th century. The Dutch prohibited the rearing of the clove-tree in all the other islands subject to their rule, in order to secure the monopoly to Ambon.

Haruku Island

Haruku Island is an island in Central Maluku Regency, Maluku Province, Indonesia - lying east of Ambon Island, off the southern coast of Seram and just west of Saparua. It is administered as a single district, Kecamatan Pulau Haruku, with a 2010 census population of 24,170. The inhabitants on Haruku speak the Haruku language, as well as Indonesian and Ambonese Malay.There are six Christian (Aboru, Haruku, Hulaliu, Kariu, Oma and Wassu) and five Muslim (Kabau, Kailolo, Pelauw, Rohomoni and Samet) villages on the island. As on most of the islands of the Moluccas, spices such as nutmeg , cloves, cumin and ginger are grown as cash crops..

In 1527, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach the island. The Dutch followed in 1590 and established Fort New Zealand, whose ruins are now a tourist attraction. During World War II, the Japanese established a Prisoner-of-war camp for captive Australians and British forces on the island, who were used as forced labor to build an airstrip.

Haruku language

Haruku is an Austronesian spoken on Haruku Island, just east of Ambon Island in eastern Indonesia, part of a dialect chain around Seram Island.

Each of the villages, Hulaliu, Pelauw, Kailolo, and Rohomoni, is said to have its own dialect.

Hitu language

Hitu is an Austronesian spoken on Ambon Island in eastern Indonesia, part of a dialect chain of Seram Island.

Hitu is the name of a village; each of the villages, Wakal, Morela, Mamala, Hitu, and Hila, are said to have their own dialect.


Laha can refer to:

Laha airfield near Laha (village) on Ambon Island, Indonesia

Laha, Seram, Indonesia

Laha, Heilongjiang, a town in Nehe City, Heilongjiang, China

Laha language, a Kra language of Vietnam

Laha people, an ethnic group in Vietnam

Laha language (Indonesia), a language spoken on Ambon Island

Laha language (Indonesia)

Laha is an Austronesian language spoken on Ambon Island in eastern Indonesia.

Lisela language

Lisela (Indonesian: Bahasa Lisela), also called Li Enyorot, is an Austronesian language; in 1989 it was spoken by about 11,900 Lisela people mostly living in the northern part of Indonesian island Buru (Indonesian: Pulau Buru). It is also preserved among the small Lisela community on the Ambon Island.The language belongs to the Sula–Buru group of Central Maluku branch of Malayo-Polynesian languages. It has two dialect, major Lisela and minor Tagalisa, the latter is used by the inhabitants of the north-east coast of Buru. The language is dying as most Lisela people switch either to the national language of Indonesia, Indonesian, or to the Ambonese variety of the Malay language (Melayu Ambon). The latter is widely used in the Maluku Islands as a lingua franca and is a local form of Malay with additions of the local lexicon.The language most closely related to Lisela is Buru, especially its dialect Masarete – their lexical similarity is 68%. Thus many sources regard Lisela as a dialect, though the most diverging, of Buru. Lisela had also borrowed much from the Sula language, as a result of the interaction between the Lisela and Sula people living together as the northern Buru coast. The language has no writing system. The most detailed study of Lisela language was conducted in the 1980s by Charles E. Grimes and Barbara Dix Grimes – Australian missionaries and ethnographers, active members of SIL International (they should not be confused with Joseph E. Grimes and Barbara F. Grimes, Charles' parents, also known Australian ethnographers).


Saparua is an island east of Ambon Island in the Indonesian province of Maluku; the island of Haruku lies between Saparua and Ambon. The main port is in the south at Kota Saparua. The island of Maolana is located near its southwestern side and Nusa Laut off its southeastern tip.Saparua was administered as a single eponymous district (kecamatan) of Central Maluku Regency (Kabupaten Maluku Tengah), but in 2012 an additional district of East Saparua was formed from the eastern peninsula of the original district. Kota Saparua (Saparua town) is the administrative centre of the residual (western) district, while Tuhaha is the administrative centre of the new district.

The island (including Maolana) covers a land area of 168.1, and had a population of 32,312 as of the 2010 census. The inhabitants of Saparua speak the Saparua language, as well as Indonesian and Ambonese Malay.Saparua was the location of Indonesian national hero, Pattimura's rebellion against Dutch forces in 1817. It was also the birthplace of G.A. Siwabessy, a prominent politician who was Indonesia's Minister of Health during the 1960s and 1970s.

Seit-Kaitetu language

Seit-Kaitetu, or Hila-Kaitetu, is an Austronesian of Ambon Island in the Mulukus. The dialects of the two villages, Seith and Kaitetu, are divergent.

Seram Island

Seram (formerly spelled Ceram; also Seran or Serang) is the largest and main island of Maluku province of Indonesia, despite Ambon Island's historical importance. It is located just north of smaller Ambon Island and a few other surrounding islands, such as Haruku, Geser, Nusalaut, Banda and Saparua.

Tulehu language

Tulehu (also known as Souw Aman Teru) is an Austronesian spoken on Ambon Island in eastern Indonesia, part of a dialect chain of Seram Island.

Tulehu is also the name of a village; each of the villages, Tulehu, Liang, Tengah-Tengah, and Tial, is said to have its own dialect.

Wakasihu language

Wakasihu, or Larike-Wakasihu after the two still-vigorous dialects, is an Austronesian language of Ambon Island in the Maluku Islands.

North Maluku province
Maluku province

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