Karimata Islands are a chain of small islands off the west coast
of Indonesian Borneo, the largest of which is (Pulau) Karimata, being
about 20 km (12 mi) across (east-west), and situated at
1°37′S 108°53′E / 1.617°S 108.883°E / -1.617;
108.883. It is part of
Kayong Utara in Indonesia. Karimata has a wide
range of ecosystems, from mangroves and tropical rain forest in the
lowlands to montane shrubland on the summit of the c.1,000 m
(3,281 ft) mountain (a spectacular example of the Massenerhebung
effect). The mountain is composed of granite. A substantial population
of cave swiftlets has historically been the source of birds nests for
birds nest soup, but has decreased recently to near extirpation, due
to overharvesting by non-indigenous collectors who have been arriving
from the mainland. A number of small villages are situated on the
coast, the largest of which is Padang, on the eastern tip of the
island. The island is renowned by inhabitants of the west coast of
Kalimantan to have a serious malaria problem.
Dutch explorers visited the island a number of times, and there have
been at least two recent visits by biologists. The island is
classified as a nature reserve by the Indonesian government, but there
has been no management of the area. There are rumours of plans for
large tourist developments.
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