Sundaland is a biogeographical region of Southeastern Asia that comprises the Malay Peninsula and the Malay Archipelago islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and surrounding smaller islands. The eastern boundary of Sundaland is the Wallace Line, identified by Alfred Russel Wallace, which marks the eastern boundary of the Asia's land mammal fauna, and is the boundary of the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones. The islands east of the Wallace line are known as Wallacea, and are considered part of Australasia.

Some scholars like Oppenheimer locate the origin of the Austronesian languages in Sundaland and its upper regions.

Genetic research reported in 2008 indicates that the islands which are the remnants of Sundaland were likely populated as early as 50,000 years ago, contrary to a previous hypothesis that they were populated as late as 10,000 years ago from Taiwan.


The islands of Sundaland rest on Asia's shallow continental shelf. During the ice ages, sea levels were lower and all of Sundaland was an extension of the Asian continent. As a result, the islands of Sundaland are home to many Asian mammals, including monkeys, apes, tigers, tapirs, and rhinoceros. The Wallace Line, which includes the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok, and the Makassar Strait between Borneo and Sulawesi, marks the end of the Asian continental shelf, and the islands of Wallacea are separated from Asia and from Australia and New Guinea by deep ocean.

Botanists often include Sundaland, the adjacent Philippines, Wallacea and New Guinea in a single Floristic province of Malesia, based on similarities in their flora, which is predominantly of Asian origin.

Ecoregions of Sundaland

Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests

Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests

Montane grasslands and shrublands


Notes and references

Further reading

Selected faunal references in Borneo

  • Abdullah MT. 2003. Biogeography and variation of Cynopterus brachyotis in Southeast Asia. PhD thesis. The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.
  • Corbet, GB, Hill JE. 1992. The mammals of the Indomalayan region: a systematic review. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Hall LS, Gordon G. Grigg, Craig Moritz, Besar Ketol, Isa Sait, Wahab Marni, Abdullah MT. 2004. Biogeography of fruit bats in Southeast Asia. Sarawak Museum Journal LX(81):191-284.
  • Karim, C., A.A. Tuen, Abdullah MT. 2004. Mammals. Sarawak Museum Journal Special Issue No. 6. 80: 221—234.
  • Mohd. Azlan J., Ibnu Maryanto, Agus P. Kartono, Abdullah MT. 2003 Diversity, Relative Abundance and Conservation of Chiropterans in Kayan Mentarang National Park, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Sarawak Museum Journal 79: 251-265.
  • Hall LS, Richards GC, Abdullah MT. 2002. The bats of Niah National Park, Sarawak. Sarawak Museum Journal. 78: 255-282.
  • Wilson DE, Reeder DM. 2005. Mammal species of the world. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC.

See also

External links

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