Laying directly across the equator and the main gate way into the
Province of West Kalimantan is the provincial capital of Pontianak.
This rapidly developing and surprisingly large city was founded
in 1771 by Syarif Abdul Rahman Al-Kadri of Saudi Arabia and is now
a bustling economic hub as well as home to a sizeable university
and a giant indoor sports stadium. Canals crisscross the city and
one of Indonesia's longest rivers, the Kapuas 1 143 km long, divides
the town in two, providing an essential and historical communications
link. Like Java and Sumatra, West Kalimantan was once an important
Hinduism reached West Kalimantan by about the year 400 and evidence
of both early Hindu and Buddhist civilizations in the region have
been discovered. Stone carvings and ceramics can be traced as far
back as the 5th century, but it is the influence of Islam that has
had the most impact on this region.
The advent of Islam in West Kalimantan occurred at about the same
time as the rise of the first Islamic Kingdom in Aceh in the 1 5th
century and was introduced primarily from South Sumatra and North
Kalimantan, and the country of Brunei. Islam was rapidly embraced
and various kingdoms grew in strength and power particularly because
of Kalimantan's strategic importance along trade routes to China
and the Philippines.
West Kalimantan covers an area of over 146.807 sq km, which is
rich in a variety of minerals and precious stones and remains largely
unexplored. Coastal areas are mainly swamp lands with more than
100 rivers sculpting the flat plains, but in the mountainous eastern
parts of the province, away from the city and plains, there are
many Dayak villages.
The Dayaks have ancient traditions and beliefs which are expressed
in various forms; earlobes elongated by heavy earings, tattoos intricate
paintings, designs and carvings and wonderful dances of respect,
heroism, welcome and cure. A large Chinese population, Malays and
other Indonesian ethnic groups account for the rest of the inhabitants
of the province.
West Kalimantan is easily accessible from Jakarta or Singapore
by air and boat and over land journeys provide a rare opportunity
to see the interior of one of the world' largest and richest islands.
- West Kalimantan Places of Interest