AMBON – MALUKU
The fabulous so-called Spice Islands were avidly sought by Europeans for many years before their actual "discovery" by Portuguese mariners. Columbus and Magellan dreamed of finding their wealth. In fact, one of the main incentives for Europe’a Age of Discovery was their zealous search for spices, easily worth their weight in gold. Three of the most prized spices, clove, nutmeg and mace grew on only a few tiny islands of Moluccas chain. The English word Moluccas is derived from Maluku, the Arabic term for
“ The Land Of King "
This originally applied only to the five clove islands, but today Maluku refers to an entire province dotted with a thousand islands spread over a huge area, almost 1.5 million sq km. Most of the people here, live from fishing and subsistence gardens of vegetables, bananas, yams, cassava and sweet potatoes. Although cloves, nutmeg and mace retain a measure of importance, the cash economy is based on copra and dried coconut meat. The seas yield important harvest of tuna, shrimps, teripang ( a sea cucumber), mother of pearl shells and pearls.