The remote Halmahera island, also called Gilolo or Jailolo, is the largest island in Maluku (the Moluccas), K-shaped almost like a miniature Sulawesi. With white sandy beaches, unspoiled forests and the spectacular Mt Mamuya in the distance, this island offers stunning scenery. This is a rugged and mountainous landscape and much of the island is still covered in forest.
While the island covers an enormous area of over 17,000 square kilometers, it is sparsely populated. This island is the core of a larger region, called Moro that includes the island and the coastline of Halmahera, and is closest to Morotai to the north.
During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Halmahera was largely under the dominion of the powerful sultanate of Ternate. In the mid-sixteenth century, the island was the site of a Portuguese Jesuit mission, most noted of whom was St. Francis Xavier (known here as St. Franciscus Xaverius). The Muslim states on Ternate and Halmahera rejected Christianity, and managed to drive the mission away from the island in 1571. However its influence remains evident as today half the population is Muslim and half are Christian.
In the seventeenth century, Ternate further exerted its power over Morotai by repeatedly forcing major parts of the population to migrate from the island.
Halmahera had an important role during World War II. It was here that the Americans started their allied invasions against the occupied Philippines and South Pacific Islands. General McArthur resided on a small island close to Daruba where he planned and coordinated countless air strikes, sea invasions and counter-attacks against the Japanese. The American Daruba Airlfield has seven runways and can still be sighted today. Due to the enormous amount of explosives, ammunition and guns still found in the shallow waters, the island remains out of bounds for divers. Only designated surveyors dive here.