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The population is estimated at 4,230,000, and consists princi. o of Javanese, particularly in the interior; but there are numers of Chinese, Malays, Arabs, Hindoos, negroes, and Europeans in the districts on the coast. The commerce of the island is chiefly in the hands of the Dutch, who have under their dominion more than half the population. Java was taken by the English in 1811, but has since been restored to the Dutch. Batavia, on the N.W. coast, is the capital of the island and of all the Dutch or, as they are now called, Netherland East-India possessions. It was formerly a place of immense trade, and contained 160,000 inhabitants, but the climate is extremely unhealthy, and the population is now reduced to 47,000.
BANCA is a large island lying E. of Sumatra and separated from it by the straits of Banca. It belongs to the Dutch, and is chiefly celebrated for its mines of tin, which yield about four million pounds annually.
Sumbawa, lying east of Java, is celebrated for the tremendous volcano of Tomboro. The eruption in 1815 is the most terrible on record. The explosions were heard at the distance of more than 900 miles, and the ashes fell in such quantities as to produce total darkness at the distance of 200 miles.
Timor, the most eastern of the Sunda isles, is about 200 miles long and 30 or 49 broad, and is rich in all the choicest productions of tropical climates. The Dutch and Portuguese have settlements here.
Borneo, the largest island in the world, except New Holland, is in the centre of the Asiatic islands, and is intersected by the equator. It is 800 miles long, and is supposed to contain more than 300,000 square miles. The coasts are low and swampy. The interior is almost wholly unknown to Europeans. The commerce of the island is principally in the hands of the Chinese, who export gold, diamonds, pepper, camphor,and edible bird's nests which are regarded in China as a great delicacy. Borneo produces also the ourang-outang, a singular animal bearing a striking resemblance to the human species. It is of short stature, scarcely exceeding three feet in height, with slender limbs and a broad and naked face, though the rest of the body is profusely covered with hair. When taken young it becomes extremely gentle and docile, and much attached to those around it. It sheds tears when displeased. rolls on the floor, and beats its head against it with all the gestures of a passionate child. The population of the island is estimated at 3,000,000.
Borneo, the capital of a kingdom of the same name, in the N. W. part of the island, is on a river 10 miles from the sea. The houses are built over the water and supported on posts, and the inhabitants communicate with each other entirely by boats. Aliigators lurk below to prey on the offals dropping through the
lattice work of the floor. This mode of builditig cities is not uncommon in this part of Asia.
HI. PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
These islands lie N. E. of Borneo, and stretch from 5° to 20° N. lat. They are more than 1,200 in number, and belong chiefly to the Spaniards, who have small settlements on many of them. The productions are rice, cotton, tobacco, coffee and many other tropica! fruits. Gold, iron, copper, lead and other minerals are also found in (he mountains. The population is estimated at 3,000,000, more than half of whom are subject to (be Spaniards.
Lucos the largest island, is situated at the northern extremity of the group, and conta ins about 70,000 square miles. ManiUa, the capital of the island and of all the Philippines, is on th« S. W. coast and has a tine harbor and considerable commerce.
Magixdanao, the next largest island and the most southerly of the group, contains about 30,000 square miles. The Spaniards have settlements along the northern const but all the rest of the island is under independent chiefs- The inhabitants are much given to piracy, and even depend on it as a resource for subsistence. They craise among the Philippines, where Ihey attack merchant vessels, and frequently extcud their depredations to Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Celebes.
The Sooloo Isles are a cluster ol small Hands, about CO in number, lying between Magindanaa and Borneo, and deriving their name from Sooloo, the principal island in the group. Thej are not commonly reckoned among the Philippine islands. The inhabitants are pirates and carry on an unceasing warfare with the Spanish colonies in the Philippines,
Celebes, sometimes called Macassar, is a large inland intersected by the equator, and lying east of Borneo, from which it is separated by a channel or arm of the sea called the straits of Macassar. It i* of a very irregular figure, consisting of four long narrow peninsula", separated from each other bv deep bay*. The area is estimated at 90,000 square miles. Among its productions are gold, beautiful timber, rice, cotton anil most of the staple products of the Lust Indies. The inhabitants are of Malay origin, strongly attached to a sea faring life and much addicted to piracy. The Dutch have many fort« strong the const, and the island is regarded as the key to the Moluccas. Macc-iir, the principal settlement of the Dutch, is on the S. W. coast. It i« a flourishing sctilemqnt, and carries on a direct trade with China.
V. SPICE ISLANDS OR MOLUCCAS.
1 lie Moluccas include all the island* between New Guinea ami Celebes. They belong- lo (he Dutch, and ire celebrated, as tbeir name indicate*, for the richest spices. Cloves and nutmegs grow here in per lection, and the rareness and great value of this produce have given ri-e to much contention among the principal European nations lor the po«*essioti of these islands. The Portuguese tirst visited them in l.'ilO.and held them till they were conquered by the Dutch in ltJ07. During1 the late European war they fell into the hands of the English, but are now restored to the Dutch. The following arc the principal islands:
1. Amhoxna, situaled near the S. \V. extremity of Coram, in Ion. 128° 6' E. iat. 3° 40' S. is a small island containing only 460 square miles, but it is the chief of the .Moluccas, being the residence of the governor, and contains A5,000 inhabitants, it is celebrated for its clove trees which yield 050,000 pounds annually. The districts appropriated to the cultivation of the clove aip strictly limited by the government, and the sovereigns ol some of the neighboring islands have been compelled to destroy their plantations that the Dutch might enjoy a monopoly.
2. Ctram, lying under the parallel of 3° S. Iat. contains 4000 square miles.
3. Gilofa, the largest of the group, is of a very irregular figure, and is intersected near its southern extremity by the equator.
4. The Banda ulandt, ten in number, lie about 130 miles E. S. E- of Amboyna. Their chief produce is nutmegs, for the cultivation of which four of the islands are laid out in plantations. The cultivation is allowed only in these four islands. In all the others care is taken to extirpate the tree
Situation.] Australasia, the fifth great division of the globe, consists of numerous islands lying southeast of the Asiatic islands. The largest is New Holland, which by some geographers is termed a continent. The other islands are New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland, Solomon's islands, New Hebrides. New Caledonia, New Zealand and Van Dicmen's land, together with a multitude of small isles surrounding them in all directions. New Guinea is separated from the northern coast of New Holland bv Torres' straits, and Van Diemen's land from the southern 'roast by Bass's strait. The rest of the islands lie east of these nn.l of New Holland.
Situation and Extent.] New Holland, the largest island in the world, extends from 10° to 39° S. lat. and from 113° to J53°Elon. It is 2600 miles long from E. to W. between Sandy cape and the entrance of Shark's bay, and the area is estimated at 3,000,000 square mile:".
Coast.] Our knowledge of New Holland is almost confined to the coast. The Dutch discovered the island in 1606, bat it is only within the last 50 years that any serious attempts have been made to increase our knowledge of the country. In 1770 Capt. Cook explored the eastern coast; and by various expeditions, fitted out by the British government between 1795 and the present time, a complete survey has been made of the whole coast, except U or 9 degrees of latitude in the N. W. The position of every important point has been ascertained, and all the inlets and bays have been traced to their conclusion. The meat re* markable result of this survey is, that the mouth o&ao large riv\Br has been discovered in the whole circuit oflhe island. Off the east coast there is a singular barrier of coral reefs, extending in a N. W. direction, parallel with the shore at the distance of 20 or 30 leagues, from about 2-3° S. lat. to Torres' straits in lat. 10° S. a distance of 840 miles.
Aicw South Wales.] The country along the eastern coast of the islan'l for an indefinite extent is claimed by the British, and is called by them New Sodth Wales. All the settlements yet made are io the S. E. on a narrow belt of land included between the coast and a lofty range of hills, called by the colonists the Blue mountains. Sydney, the capital of the colony, is on Port Jackson bay in lat. 32° 53' S. and contains 7,000 inhabitants. All • the other towns are within 60 miles of Sydney. The climate if healthy and pleasant, and favourable to the growth of wheat, maize, and barley, as well as oranges, lemons and other tropical fruits.
The colonists are principally convicts, banished from Great Britain for their crimes; but within a few years voluntary emigrants of industrious habits have resorted hither inconsiderable numbers; and the population and wealth of the colony are now increasing with astonishing rapidity. According to an official return in 1818, the inhabitants were 25,050 in number, and owned more than 200,000 sheep, 55,000 homed cattle, 3,600 horses and 24,000 hogs. The increase of the population donng the single year 1818 was nearly 5.000, or one fifth of the whole.
Interior.] No attempts were made to cross the Blue moan tains for the purpose of exploring the interior of the island until the year 1813. Since that time several expeditions have been undertaken by the British, particularly two, in 1817 and 1818, under lieut. Oxley. He ascertained that several large rivrn rise on the west bide of the Blue mountains, and succeeded in tracing their course for many hundred miles. They appear to terminate, however, in immense en amps or inland lske«. From the result of these expeditions and from the fact that no river of magnitude enters the ocean from any part of the const, it appears highly probable thut the surface of this vast country resembles a shallow basin, whose margin is the sea coa«t. Ironi which the waters, descending towards the interior, form a Miccession of swamps and moras*es, or perhaps a vast mediterranean tea.
Inhabitant) ] The natives of New Holland, so far as they aic known, are among the most degraded of the human species. They are ugly and dirty. Their noses are flat, their lips thick, their mouths stretch from ear to enr; they cat worms and caterpillars, and rub their bodies all over with fish oil, which in hot weather makes them intolerably offensive. They have no regular religion, but are a poor superstitious race, believing in ghosts and witches.
VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.
Van Diemen's land is a fertile island, about 170 miles long and 150 broad, separated from the south coast of New Holland by Bass's strait*. The British planted a colony here in 1803 which is now very flourishing. In 1810 it contained 3,557 persons, of whom about one half were convicts from England and New South Wale*.
New Guinea, sometimes called Papua, lies north of N«w Holland, from which it is separated l>y Torres1 straits. It is about as large as Borneo, but much longer, being more than 1200 miles in extent from N. W. to S. E. The coast has been very little explored, and it is supposed by many that it is not a single island, but a great number of islands divided by narrow straits. The shores abound with cocoa trees, and in some parts with nutmeg trees, and as far as it is known it appears to be a beautiful country. The inhabitants are negroes, of a savage and hideous appearance. There is no European settlement upon the island.
NEW BRITAIN, NEW IRELAND AND SOLOMON'S ISLANL*.
These islands lie east of New Guinea, and appear to have a fertile soil, rich in all the products of tropical climates. The inhabitants ar« negroes, of the same gencriil appeurancc and character with tho*« of New Guinea. The Europeans have no settlements here.