Kalimantan is the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, the third largest island in the world. The Indonesian part covers around 580,000 km2 (225,000 sq mi) although the vast area is home to only 12 million people, so most of the area, particularly the interior, is very sparsely populated. The vast rainforests in Kalimantan are some of the most bio-diverse areas in the world.
In 2022, Indonesian president Joko Wikdodo announced that Indonesia would be moving its capital from Jakarta to a new purpose-built city called Nusantara in East Kalimantan.
|Central Kalimantan (Kalimantan Tengah) |
|East Kalimantan (Kalimantan Timur) |
also including the province of North Kalimantan (Kalimantan Utara)
|South Kalimantan (Kalimantan Selatan) |
|West Kalimantan (Kalimantan Barat) |
- 1 Balikpapan — is called Oil City in Indonesia, because most of the major oil & gas companies have offices there
- 2 Banjarbaru — capital of South Kalimantan
- 3 Banjarmasin — the biggest city in Kalimantan. Famous for its floating market.
- 4 Pangkalanbun
- 5 Palangkaraya — capital of Central Kalimantan
- 6 Pontianak — capital and culinary centre of West Kalimantan
- 7 Samarinda — capital of East Kalimantan
- 8 Singkawang — the city of one thousand Chinese temples
- 9 Tarakan — an inshore island and the largest city of North Kalimantan
- 1 Apo Kayan — remote highland plateau inhabited by Dayak tribes
- 2 Derawan — an offshore island with diving and marine attractions
- 3 Gunung Palung National Park
- 4 Loksado — the gateway to Meratus mountainous range
- 5 Tanjung Puting National Park — home of the famous Bornean Orangutan
While in Malay and English Kalimantan is used to refer only to the Indonesian-controlled part of Borneo, the term is used to refer to the entire island of Borneo in Indonesian.
Flora and fauna
The Borneo rainforest is 130 million years old, making it one of the oldest rainforests in the world and 70 million years older than the Amazon rainforest. Borneo is very rich in biodiversity compared to many other areas. There are about 15,000 species of flowering plants with 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of mammals and 420 species of birds. Subject to mass deforestation, the remaining Borneo rainforest is one of the only remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean orangutan. It is also an important refuge for many endemic forest species, as the Asian elephant, the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Bornean clouded leopard, and the Dayak fruit bat.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Kalimantan has an equatorial climate, with the average temperature ranging between 23 and 31°C. The island has a high annual precipitation, around 300 mm per year, with a light rainy season between March and May, and a more intense one between November and January. Precipitation levels are however considerably lower than in many neighbouring parts of Indonesia.
There are 74 living languages spoken in Kalimantan. Indonesian is the official language, while the Banjar language serves as a lingua franca on much of the island except in West Kalimantan, where Malay is more popular. Other major languages include Dayak (Bornean) and a number of dialects related to the Chinese Hakka and Minnan (Teochew) languages.
There are several international airports in Kalimantan, with connections to and from Singapore and Malaysia. In addition, there is a wide array of flight connections to and from other Indonesian islands, mainly Java.
- Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman International Airport (BPN IATA) near Balikpapan is the primary airport on the Indonesian side, with international flights from Singapore (Silk Air), and domestic flights from many Indonesian cities. It is the second busiest airport in central/east Indonesia, after Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport in [[Makassar]].
- Syamsudin Noor Airport (BDJ IATA) near Banjarmasin is a regional airport located in South Kalimantan, with good connections to destinations throughout Kalimantan and Java.
- Supadio Airport (PNK IATA) near Pontianak is the main airport of West Kalimantan, with international flights from Kuala Lumpur (AirAsia) and Kuching (Xpress Air), and domestic flights from Medan and the main cities of Java.
- Juwata International Airport (TRK IATA) near Tarakan servers the northeast of Kalimantan, with international flights from Kota Kinabalu (MASwings) as well as a range of domestic destinations.
- Also the airports of Berau/Derawan (BEJ IATA), Pangkalan Bun (PKN IATA), Ketapang (KTG IATA), Sampit (SMQ IATA), Palangkaraya (PKY IATA) serve destinations on Java island.
The only formal way to enter Kalimantan by land from Malaysia is at the Entikong-Tebedu crossing between West Kalimantan and Sarawak. As the crossing is listed only as a visa-free entry point, nationalities who do not qualify for this will have to apply for visas beforehand. Read more about this in the article about the trip from Pontianak to Kuching or vice versa.
Domestic ferry connections to several ports of Kalimantan (Pontianak, Ketapang, Kumai, Sampit, Banjarmasin, Batulicin, Balikpapan, Samarinda, Tarakan, and Nunukan) are operated by PELNI. In almost all cases it is advisable for tourists to fly instead, except perhaps for trips to Kalimantan from relatively nearby islands such as Bangka-Belitung and the Riau Islands.
Distances on Kalimantan are long and public transport is spotty and expensive. The easiest option may well be to book an arranged tour.
Most diving activities takes place in the Berau Archipelago in the Celebes sea, around the islands of Derawan, Sangaliki and Maratua in East Kalimantan, there are also some less visited dive sites in West Kalimantan, these include Batu Payung and Radayan island in the vicinity of Singkawang and Karimata islands reserve further south, some 100 kilometers of the coast from Ketapang.
In West Kalimantan, you may eat Chinese-Indonesian cuisine, Malay cuisine, and Dayak cuisine. Banjarese cuisine is easily found in South Kalimantan. When you visit East Kalimantan, you can try local Kutai cuisine.
Be careful on the rivers, especially the Kapuas River, as many boats have sunk on it, with loss of life.