Aru Islands

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Moluccas (Maluku) Island group and province in e Indonesia, between Sulawesi (w) and New Guinea (e); the capital is Ambon. The fabled Spice Islands were originally explored by Ferdinand Magellan in the early 16th century, and later settled by the Portuguese. The Dutch took the islands in the 17th century and monopolized the spice trade. After Indonesian independence, the s Moluccas were the focus of secessionist forces. The group includes the larger islands of Halmahera, Ceram, and Buru, and the island groups of Sula, Batjan, Obi, Kai, Aru, Tanimbar, Banda, Babar, and Leti. Products: spices, copra, timber, sago. Area: 74,505sq km (28,759sq mi). Pop. (2000) 1,977,570.

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Aru Islands or Aroe Islands (both: ä´rōō), group of about 95 low-lying islands, 3,306 sq mi (8,563 sq km), E Indonesia, in the Moluccas, in the Arafura Sea, SW of New Guinea. The largest island is Tanahbesar; Dobo, the chief port of the group, is on Wamar, just off Tanahbesar. Products include sago, coconuts, tobacco, mother-of-pearl, trepang, tortoiseshell, and bird of paradise plumes. The inhabitants are of a mixed Papuan and Malay stock. The islands were discovered by the Dutch, who colonized them after 1623. Arru is another spelling.