Morotai Island


Morotai Island (Indonesian: Pulau Morotai) is an island in the Halmahera group of eastern Indonesia’s Maluku Islands (Moluccas). It is one of Indonesia’s northernmost islands.

Morotai is a rugged, forested island lying to the north of Halmahera. It has an area of some 1,800 square kilometres (690 sq mi), stretching 80 kilometres (50 mi) north-south and no more than 42 kilometres (26 mi) wide. The island’s largest town is Daruba, on the islands south coast. Almost all of Morotai’s numerous villages are coastal settlements; a paved road linking those on the east coast starts from Daruba and will eventually reach Berebere, the principal town on Morotai’s east coast, 68 kilometres (42 mi) from Daruba.[citation needed] Between Halmahera and the islets and reefs of the west coast of Morotai is the Morotai Strait, which is about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) wide. Morotai was part of the Ternate Sultanate, which was a vassal of the Dutch East India Company by the end of the 17th century. The Empire of Japan invaded Morotai early in 1942 as part of its Dutch East Indies Campaign. US forces and their allies counter-attacked by launching the Battle of Morotai in 1944; bombing the island in August and invading it in September. Imperial Japanese forces on Morotai held out until 1945 but failed to expel the Allied invaders. In the latter part of 1944, 61,000 personnel landed on Morotai. Two thirds of them were engineers, who rapidly established facilities including harbours and two airstrips plus extensive fuel stores. The formal surrender of the Second Japanese Army took place at Morotai on 9 September 1945.

The last Japanese holdout from the war, Private Teruo Nakamura (Amis: Attun Palalin), was discovered by the Indonesian Air Force on Morotai, and surrendered to a search patrol on December 18, 1974.

Morotai is the northernmost island in Maluku, just off the northern tip of Halmahera. It is famous as the important base in WW II, from where Mac Arthur launched has assault against the Japanese to liberate the Philippines. Unfortunately there is little left to see from this period – the once plentiful war relics (guns and machinery) have now mostly been sold for scrap metal. Nor is the most accessible and visited southern area of the island of much cultural or natural interest: most locals are Galelarese and Tobelorese as in North Halmahera. with a sprinkling of Sangirese and Butonese migrants, and the forests of the hilly interior have been extensively logged. Probably the most obvious attractions around here are some fine beaches, especially those on the little islands off Daruba, Morotai’s major town.

This new district, centred on the cape of Tajung Sopi, is Maluku’s very northernmost corner. The villages here speak their own dialect of Galelarese. The regional capital is the village of Sopi. Like Berebere, Sopi is visited by some keen surfers in the right season. As there’s no organized accommodation here, they have to stay with villagers.

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