Where is Borneo?

It is not so surprising that some do not know where Borneo is or if it even exists. The idea of Borneo as an historical land of myths and legends is prominent and has been ever since the time of Sir James Brooke and the “White Rajah’s”. Some great writers have had Borneo in their imagination – for instance Borneo the backdrop for at least 4 of Joseph Conrad’s novels.
Today, the name “Borneo” applies as a Geographical name to the entire island – Borneo the 3rd largest island in the world. However, the island of Borneo is divided into 4 different states, belonging to 3 different countries.
– Sabah (Malaysia)
– Sarawak (Malaysia)
– Kalimantan (Indonesia)
– Brunei (Brunei)
This might be one of the reasons that people wonder if Borneo is a real place or if it is an imaginary land from a novel!
It is not that surprising that many people do not know where Borneo is. One of the reasons for this is because today, the island of Borneo (the 3rd largest island in the world) is divided into 3 different countries:
– Brunei
– Malaysia
– Indonesia
Further confusion is added by the names of the individual states:
– Sabah (Malaysia)
– Sarawak (Malaysia)
– Kalimantan (Indonesia)
These state names have become well-known in their own right, a bit like California or Florida – everyone knows these are states that exists in the USA, which is a country in North America (North America includes Canada and the USA).
So here, for example, I personally live in Sabah, which is a state in Malaysia, which is on the island of Borneo. Sabah was formerly known as North Borneo. This was during Colonial times, but the name North Borneo is still often used, especially in tourist literature.
The other Malaysian state on the island of Borneo is Sarawak. There are 11 other states in Malaysia, all of them located on the “Peninsula” – an area of land just south of Thailand, and just north of Singapore.
As for the questions “where is Borneo?” Since I live in Sabah, I this is what I told my friend:
Draw a triangle over Southeast Asia, right in the centre of this triangle you will find Sabah (Malaysian North Borneo).
The success of Sabah as a modern state, and as a tourism destination, is closely linked with this location. Being in the centre of South East Asia means that Kota Kinabalu (the international airport) is just a short flight from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bali, Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo, Taiwan, Manila, etc.
Another effect of the location: this is where 3 seas converge together around 1000’s of islands: the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea, the Celebes Sea. It is for this reason that this area is widely known to contain the worlds greatest underwater biodiversity.
There are many more facts like this to discover about Borneo, so many interesting things to know once you start looking into the geography, history of a place. In the end, the question “where is Borneo?” was a good one as it really made me think.
See for more information about Malaysian Borneo

discover borneo

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