1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Buru

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BURU (Buro, Dutch Boeroe or Boeloe), an island of the Dutch East Indies, one of the Molucca Islands belonging to the residency of Amboyna, between 3° 4′ and 3° 50′ S. and 125° 58′ and 127° 15′ E. Its extreme measurements are 87 m. by 50 m., and its area is 3400 sq. m. Its surface is for the most part mountainous, though the seaboard district is frequently alluvial and marshy from the deposits of the numerous rivers. Of these the largest, the Kajeli, discharging eastward, is in part navigable. The greatest elevations occur in the west, where the mountain Tomahu reaches 8530 ft. In the middle of the western part of the island lies the large lake of Wakolo, at an altitude of 2200 ft., with a circumference of 37 m. and a depth of about 100 ft. It has been considered a crater lake; but this is not the case. It is situated at the junction of the sandstone and slate, where the water, having worn away the former, has accumulated on the latter. The lake has no affluents and only one outlet, the Wai Nibe to the north. The chief geological formations of Buru are crystalline slate near the north coast, and more to the south Mesozoic sandstone and chalk, deposits of rare occurrence in the archipelago. By far the larger part of the country is covered with natural forest and prairie land, but such portions as have been brought into cultivation are highly fertile. Coffee, rice and a variety of fruits, such as the lemon, orange, banana, pine-apple and coco-nut are readily grown, as well as sago, red-pepper, tobacco and cotton. The only important exports, however, are cajeput oil, a sudorific distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca Cajuputi or white-wood tree; and timber. The native flora is rich, and teak, ebony and canari trees are especially abundant; the fauna, which is similarly varied, includes the babirusa, which occurs in this island only of the Moluccas. The population is about 15,000. The villages on the sea-coast are inhabited by a Malayan population, and the northern and western portions of the island are occupied by a light-coloured Malay folk akin to the natives of the eastern Celebes. In the interior is found a peculiar race which is held by some to be Papuan. They are described, however, as singularly un-Papuan in physique, being only 5 ft. 2 in. in average height, of a yellow-brown colour, of feeble build, and without the characteristic frizzly hair and prominent nose of the true Papuan. They are completely pagan, live in scattered hamlets, and have come very little in contact with any civilization. Among the maritime population a small number of Chinese, Arabs and other races are also found. The island is divided by the Dutch into two districts. The chief settlement is Kajeli on the east coast. A number of Mahommedan natives here are descended from tribes compelled in 1657 to gather together from the different parts of the island, while all the clove-trees were exterminated in an attempt by the Dutch to centralize the clove trade. Before the arrival of the Dutch the islanders were under the dominion of the sultan of Ternate; and it was their rebellion against him that gave the Europeans the opportunity of effecting their subjugation.