The island was visited (1512) by the Portuguese, who made it a religious and military headquarters. It was captured by the Dutch in 1605. An English settlement there was destroyed (1623) by the Dutch in what is called the Ambon massacre. Ambon was temporarily under British rule from 1796 to 1802 and again from 1810 to 1814. The town was the site of a major Dutch naval base captured (1942) by the Japanese in World War II, and it was the scene (1950) of a revolt against the Indonesian government during the short-lived South Moluccan Republic. After the end of Dutch rule, it was a source of major immigration to the Netherlands. As a result of continued violence between rebels and government troops, many Ambonese emigrated to the Netherlands. The island has been the scene of Muslim-Christian violence in recent years.
Island of the Moluccas, Indonesia. Located in the Malay Archipelago, it is 31 mi (50 km) long and 10 mi (16 km) wide, with an area of 294 sq mi (761 sq km). Its chief port is also called Ambon (pop., 2000: 205,664). The island is subject to earthquakes and volcanic activity; Mount Salhatu (3,405 ft [1,038 m]) is its highest point. The clove trade first attracted the Portuguese, who founded a settlement in 1521. The Dutch ousted the Portuguese in 1605, took over the spice trade, and in 1623 killed English settlers in the Amboina Massacre. The British captured Ambon in 1796 and 1810, but it was restored to the Dutch in 1814. The Japanese occupied it during World War II. Retaken by the Dutch in 1945, it became part of Indonesia in 1949. A short-lived independence movement there in 1950 was soon suppressed.
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