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Borneo is the third largest island in the world. It has an area of 743,330 km² (287,000 square miles), and is located at the center of the Malay archipelago and Indonesia. Borneo is considered to be part of the geographic region of Southeast Asia. Administratively, this island is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

Borneo is only a Western reference; the term is rarely used locally. The name Borneo was only given by the Dutch during their colonial period. In Indonesia, the island is always referred to as Kalimantan while in Malaysia the northern section is referred to as East Malaysia (as opposed to Western reference of Malaysian Borneo).




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, and the Java Sea and Karimata Strait to the south. To the west of Borneo are the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. To the south is Java. To the east is the island of Sulawesi (Celebes). To the northeast is the Philippines.

Borneo’s highest point is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, with an elevation of 4,095 m (13,435 ft) above sea level. This makes it the world’s third highest island.


Borneo is very rich in biodiversity compared to many other areas (MacKinnon et al. 1998). There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees (267 species are dipterocarps), 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds in Borneo (MacKinnon et al. 1998). The remaining Borneo rainforest is the only natural habitat for the endangered Bornean Orangutan. It is also an important refuge for many endemic forest species, and the Asian Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros and the Bornean Clouded Leopard.

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