14 The Malay Archipelago.
are commonly reckoned by weeks and months, and that their several inhabitants are often as little known to each other as are the native races of the northern to those , of the southern continent of America. He soon comes to look upon this region as one apart from the rest of the world, with its own races of men and its own aspects of nature; with its own ideas, feelings, customs, and modes of speech, and with a climate, vegetation, and animated life altogether peculiar to itself.
From many points of view these islands form one compact geographical whole, and as such they have always been treated by travellers and men of science; but a more careful and detailed study of them under various aspects reveals the unexpected fact that they are divisible into tw^o portions nearly equal in extent, which widely differ in their natural products, and really form parts of two of the primary divisions of the earth. I have been able to prove this in considerable detail by my observations on the natural history of the various parts of the Archipelago; and as in the description of my travels and residence in the several islands I shall have to refer con* tinually to this view, and adduce facts in support of it, I have thought it advisable to commence with a general sketch of such of the main features of the Malayan region as will render the facts hereafter brought forward more interesting, and their bearing on the general question more easily understood, I proceed, therefore, to sketch the limits and extent of the Archipelago, and to point out. the more striking features of its geology, physical geography, vegetation, and animal life.
Definition and Boundaries.a For reasons which depend mainly on the distribution of animal life, I consider the Malay Archipelago to include the Malay Peninsula as far as Tenas-serim, and the Nicobar Islands on the west, the Philippines on the north, and the Solomon Islands beyond New Guinea on the east. All the great islands included within thesp limits are connected together by innumerable smaller ones, so that no one of them seems to be distinctly separated from the rest. With but few exceptions, all enjoy a uniform and very similar climate, and are covered with a luxuriant forest vegetation. Whether we study their form and distribution on maps, or actually travel from island to island, our first impression will