The Maluku Islands (also known as the Moluccas, Moluccan Islands, the Spice Islands) are an archipelago in Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi (Celebes), west of New Guinea, and north of Timor. The islands were also historically known as the "Spice Islands" by the Chinese and Europeans, but this term has also been applied to other islands.
Most of the islands are mountainous, some with active volcanoes, and enjoy a wet climate. The vegetation of the small and narrow islands, encompassed by the sea, is very luxuriant; including rainforests, sago, rice and the famous spices - nutmeg, cloves and mace, among others. Though originally Melanesian, many island populations, especially in the Banda Islands, were killed in the 17th century. A second influx of Austronesian immigrants began in the early 20th century under the Dutch and continued in the Indonesian era.
Spice Islands most commonly refer to the Maluku Islands (formerly the Moluccas), which lie on the equator, between Sulawesi (Celebes) and New Guinea in what is now Indonesia, and often specifically to the small volcanic Banda Islands, once the only source of mace and nutmeg.
Moluccas - Travel Tips
Maluku is an Indonesian province encompassing the central and southern Maluku Islands (Moluccas). At the province's center, the Banda Islands are famed for nutmeg trees and Gunung Api, an active volcano. Colonial buildings like the Dutch East India Company's Fort Belgica on Banda Neira are evidence of their spice-trading past. Northwest is mountainous Ambon Island, known for its vibrant coral reefs just offshore.