North Kalimantan, Discover The Beauty Of Borneo

Previously part of the East Kalimantan Province, the North Kalimantan Province was officially established on 25th October 2012 with Tanjung Selor as its capital city, making this the 34th and youngest province in Indonesia. Located on the northern-most part of Kalimantan, – the Indonesian side of the island of Borneo, – the province directly borders the states of Sabah and Sarawak in the neighboring country of Malaysia. The province of North Kalimantan includes the regencies of Bulungan, Malinau, Nunukan, Tana Tidung, and the island city of Tarakan.

North Kalimantan tourism
North Kalimantan tourism (Source :

The area includes some of the most pristine forests on Kalimantan, making it one of the last frontiers for hardcore jungle trekking. Only a handful of people have crossed the vast jungle of the Kayan Mentarang National Park, making it a most challenging site to conquer. While, the city of Tarakan also played an important role during the Second World War in the Pacific, when Japanese and the Allied Forces fought over this strategic location. Up to this day, there are still many remnants and monuments found throughout the city as a reminder of these historic events.


North Kalimantan (Source :

The main gateway to North Kalimantan is the Juwata International Airport on the island city of Tarakan. There are flight to Tarakan from Balikpapan, Surabaya, and Jakarta, with smaller aircrafts from Tanjung Selor, Nunukan, and Berau. Domestic airlines that serve flights to and from Tarakan are Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air, Garuda indonesia, Kalstar, and Susi Air. Tarakan’s Airport also serves an international route to Tawau in Malaysia by MASWings Airlines of Malaysia. Entrance to the mainland of the province is by ferry from Tarakan. Overland , Tanjung Selor is connected by highway from Samarinda, capital city of East Kalimantan.


The area that is now the North Kalimantan Province is said to have formerly been the territory ruled by the Bulungan Sultanate. While, the Bulungan Sultanate is said to have been the continuation of the Sulu Sultanate that, according to the Banjar ethnic group was part of the Banjar Sultanate. Another kingdom that also marked its presence in North Kalimantan was the Tarakan Sultanate, which according to legend was established on the island of Tarakan around 1076.

Dutch colonial interests first explored the island of Tarakan in 1863 when oil seepages were discovered. In 1905 an oil concession was granted to the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij, predecessor of the Royal Dutch Shell. The oil produced here was parafin based instead of the usual asphalt base. This caused Tarakan oil to become an important fuel source and in great demand, especially in Japan At the onset of the Second World War in the Pacific, Tarakan became an obvious target of the Japanese.

Dayak girls, North Kalimantan
Dayak girls, North Kalimantan (Source :

They wanted Tarakan for two reasons: namely the presence of a rich oil field and to use this island as strategic air base from which further attacks could be launched. In the first battle of Tarakan on January 11–12, 1942, the Japanese invading fleet defeated the Dutch and took control of Tarakan. The Allies finally recaptured Tarakan following the second battle of Tarakan from May 1 – June 21, 1945. The Allied Forces responsible for capturing Tarakan was headed by the veteran Australian 26th Brigade Group.


Seafood is a must here. Most of the places offer halal food due to the large Muslim population. Various Chinese style dishes can also be enjoyed here at reasonable prices.


Interestingly a third of the population in North Kalimantan hail from the island of Java followed by those from South Sulawesi. The indigenous people who make up the rest of the population comprise several ethnic groups including: the Banjar, the Bulungan, the Dayak, the Tidung, and the Kutai.

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