1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bachian

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BACHIAN (Dutch Batjan), one of the Molucca Islands, in the residency of Ternate, Dutch East Indies, in the Molucca Sea, in 0°13′-0°55′ S. and 127°22′-128°E. With its subordinate islands, Mandioli, Tawali and others, it lies west of the southern peninsula of the island of Halmahera or Jilolo, and has an area of 914 sq. m. It is of irregular form, consisting of two distinct mountainous parts, united by a low isthmus, which a slight subsidence would submerge. The island is in part of volcanic formation, and the existence of hot springs points to volcanic activity. There are, however, especially in the southern portion, ancient and non-volcanic rocks. The highest elevation occurs at the south of the island, the mountain of Labua reaching 6950 ft. Coal and other minerals have been discovered. A large portion of the island is richly wooded, and sago, cocoa-nuts and cloves (which are indigenous) are abundantly produced. Bachian is remarkable as the most eastern point on the globe inhabited by any of the Quadrumana, a black ape occurring here as in Celebes. The island is very rich in birds and insects. The interior of the island is uninhabited and none of the dwellers on the coast are indigenous. They consist of the Sirani or Christian descendants of the Portuguese, of Malays, with a Papuan element, Galela men from the north of Halmahera, immigrants from Celebes, with some Chinese and Arabs. The total number of inhabitants is about 13,000. The chief village, called Amasing by the inhabitants, but also called Bachian, is situated on the west side of the isthmus. Bachian is the most important island of a group formerly governed by a sultan, but since 1889 by a committee of chiefs under the control of a Dutch contrôleur. From 1882 onwards a Batjan company attempted to exploit the island, but unsuccessfully, owing to a deficient knowledge of the soil and its capabilities and a lack of labourers.