The Meratus Mountains divide south Kalimantan into two distinct regions. The southern section of the province is much flatter with large rivers meandering through lowlands to vast mangrove swamps along the coast, that is why South Kalimantan is an exceptionally fertile land. Many villages and settlements are built along the Barito River, by the indegenous majority, the Banjar. Exquisite traditional and commercial handicrafts are all made from local raw materials which include a variety of precious and semi precious stones, gold, silver, brass, iron and wide variety of woods including bamboo and rattan.
It is said that the early inhabitants of this area resided near the beach, on the skirt of Mount Meratus. Occasionally traders from India and China dropped by, causing the small towns to prosper and grow bigger. About 5th century, a small kingdom called Tanjung Puri emerged, the inhabitants were believed to come from Sriwijaya kingdom in South Sumatra. Nagara Dipa and Nagara Daha kingdom also existed soon after this, believed to be influenced by Java.
Dutch occupation forced the people to fight back for freedom, in vain. Some of the leaders were captured, exiled or executed. Japanese then took over, and still the people tried to defy the foreigners. After Indonesia gained its independence, South Kalimantan became a separate province in 1956.
Soto Banjar is a specialty here, best served hot and eaten with steamed rice. It is actually chicken soup, Banjar style. Several spices like clove, nutmeg and cinnamon are added.
The variety of kue or cakes available here are plenty and very tasty. Deep fried breads with yummy fillings, sticky banana rice cakes, are a must for those with sweet teeth.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
The majority is called Banjar, pious Muslim folks. Malay people also dominate this place.
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