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MALAY Archipelago lies directly on the volcanic belt of the world. Like the backbone of some restless, formidable antediluvian monster, more than three hundred volcanoes rise from The sea in a great chain of islands - perhaps all that remains of A continent broken up in prehistoric cataclysms - forming a continuous land bridge that links Asia with Australia. Because of its peculiar and fantastic nature, its complex variety of peoples, and its fabulous richness, the archipelago is one of the most fascinating regions of the earth. It includes famous islands like Java, Borneo, Sumatra, New Guinea, the Philippines, and the hysterical. Island-volcano of Krakatao. Such freaks of nature as the giant " dragon " lizards of Komodo, the coloured lakes of Flores, the orangutans, the rafflesia (a flower over three feet in diameter), and the birds of paradise, are to be found nowhere else, The population of the islands ranges from such forms of primitive humanity as the Negritos, the Papuans, the Kubus, who seem only a few steps away in the evolutionary scale from the orangutan, to the super civilized Hindu-Javanese, who over six hundred years ago built monuments like Borobudur and Prambanan, jewels of Eastern art.

Through the centuries, civilization upon civilization from all directions has settled on the islands over the ancient megalithic cultures of the aborigines, until each island has developed an individual character, with a colorful culture, according to whether Chinese, Hindu, Malay, Polynesian, Mohammedan, or European influence has prevailed. Despite the mental isolation these differences have created, even the natives believe that the islands once formed a unified land. Raffles, in his History of lava, mentions a Javanese legend that says, " the continent was split into nine parts, but when three thousand rainy seasons will have elapsed, the Eastern Islands shall again be reunited and the power of the white man shall end."

One of the smallest, but perhaps the most extraordinary, of the islands, is the recently famous Bali - a cluster of high volcanoes, their craters studded with serene lakes set in dark forests filled with screaming monkeys. The long green slopes of the volcanoes, deeply furrowed by ravines washed out by rushing rivers full of rapids and waterfalls, drop steadily to the sea without forming lowlands. just eight degrees south of the Equator, Bali has over two thousand square miles of extravagantly fertile lands, most of which are beautifully cultivated. Only a narrow strait, hardly two miles across, separates Bali from Java; here again the idea that the two islands were once joined and then separated is sustained by the legend of the great Javanese king who was obliged to banish his good-for-nothing son to Bali, then united to Java by a very narrow isthmus. The king accompanied his son to the narrowest point of the tongue of land; when the young prince had disappeared from sight, to further emphasize the separation, he drew a line with his finger across the sands. The waters met and Bali became an island.

The dangers lurking in the waters around the island suggest a possible reason why Bali remained obscure and unconquered until 1908. Besides the strong tidal currents and the great depths of the straits, the coasts are little indented and are constantly exposed to the full force of the monsoons; where they are not bordered by dangerous coral banks, they rise from the sea in steep cliffs. Anchorage is thus out of the question except far out to sea, and the Dutch have bad to build an artificial port in Benoa to afford a berth for small vessels.

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