World map highlighting Malay Archipelago. New Guinea—not part of the Malay Archipelago by some definitions—is also included.
|Location||Southeast Asia, Oceania|
|Total islands||25,000 - 30,000|
|Major islands||Borneo, Java, Luzon, Mindanao, New Guinea, Sulawesi, Sumatra|
|Area||2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi)|
|Ethnic groups||Austronesian peoples, Malay, Overseas Chinese|
It has also been called the East Indies, the Indo-Australian Archipelago, Indonesian Archipelago and other names over time.
The archipelago is between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The group has over 25,000 islands. It is the largest archipelago by area, and third by number of islands in the world. It includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, East Malaysia and East Timor.
The Wallace Line is a key term in biogeography. It passes between Bali and Lombok, which are separated by a passage of water which is both deep and fast. On the one side are Australasian species, and on the other side Asian species. The natural history of the area was investigated by Alfred Russel Wallace, who spent eight years in the Spice Islands.
- "In this archipelago there are two distinct faunas rigidly circumscribed, which differ as much as do those of Africa and South America... yet there is nothing on the map or on the face of the islands to mark their limits. The boundary line passes between islands closer together than others belonging to the same group. I believe the western part to be a separated portion of continental Asia, while the eastern is a fragmentary prolongation of a former west Pacific continent".
Images for kids
One of the majority of uninhabited islands of the Philippines.
Malay Archipelago Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.