The Moluccas are a group of islands along the equator between the islands of Sulawesi and New Guinea (Irian Jaya), and have historically been known for their spices. Early explorers called the Moluccas the "Spice Islands," and they were the source of battles by European powers to control its spice trade. The islands are now part of a larger archipelago which makes up the Republic of Indonesia. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta, on the island of Java, and is controlled by the Javanese, led by President Suharto. The political situation does not sit well with the thousands of Moluccans currently residing in Holland, who were forced to flee Indonesia in 1950 when a political solution could not be reached regarding Moluccas self-determination. Nevertheless, the Moluccan Islands have a special place in the hearts of Moluccans, especially those living in Holland and the United States. The beauty of the islands rivals that of other pacific paradises such as Taihiti and Hawaii. Where does the name "Maluku" come from? It comes from an Arabic term, Al-Muluk meaning "land of kings," and applied originally to a chain of five islands. These islands Ternate, Tidore, Moti, Mare and Makian, lie just off the west coast of Halmahera. How many islands make up the Moluccas? Approximately 1000 islands. They are scattered over an area larger than the island of Borneo, but make up only 87,000 sq kms (33,200 sq miles) of territory--about two-thirds the area of Java. Where does the name "Ambon" come from? Embun means "cloud" or "dew" in Indonesian; this island is almost always enclosed by fog or mist. Locally, Ambon is known as Nusa Yapoona or "dew island." Another theory has it that its name derives from apon, which means "plantation." What did early explorers call the Moluccas? The early Chinese, Dutch, Portugese, British and other early explorers called it the Spice Islands. The earliest record of the Spice Isles was penned by the Chinese.