Places in World Most Likely to Secede South Moluccan Islands

About South Moluccan Islands a place in the world likely to secede from Indonesia, size, population, and history of conflict.



Size: 32,307 sq. mi. (83,675 sq. km.).

Population: 1.5 million.

An island group of Indonesia strung out between Celebes and New Guinea, the Moluccas, formerly the Spice Islands, include, among others, the islands of Ambon (the most populous, home to 9% of all Moluccans), Halmahera, Ceram, the Bandas, Tidore, and Ternate. Although discovered by Portuguese sailors in the 16th century, the 10 major islands and island groups ultimately fell to the Dutch, who made a fortune exploiting the clove crop there. Today's residents are descendants of indigenous East Indians and slaves brought from Africa by the Netherlands East India Company to work the Dutch plantations. During W.W. II, many Moluccans fought alongside the Dutch to resist Japanese aggression.

After V-J Day, as Indonesia prepared for independence, separatists agitated for Moluccan autonomy, but Djakarta insisted on incorporating the islands among Indonesia's 14,000-island chain. In 1949, Amsterdam officials removed 12,000 of the more adamant Moluccan nationalists to a converted Nazi concentration camp in Holland with the promise (according to the Moluccans) that they one day would be returned to a liberated homeland.

During the nearly 30 years that have passed since then, these refugees have remained together, occupying their own quarters of Dutch cities. Few have been assimilated into Dutch society. Most of the old-timers by now have given up their dream of returning to the free Moluccas. However, their children have taken up the cause and recently have resorted to violence to spotlight their plight. In an attempt to coerce the Netherlands into forcing Djakarta into relinquishing the Moluccas, activists in Holland have claimed credit for many acts of terrorism during the 1970s.

For its part, Holland has washed its hands of the whole question of Moluccan independence, disclaiming any right to interfere in the internal affairs of Indonesia.

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