18 The Malay Archipelago.
formed. There has been some elevation, especially on the south coast, where extensive cliffs of coral limestone are found, and there may be a substratum of older stratified rocks; but still essentially Java is volcanic ; and that noble and fertile islanda the very garden of the East, and perhaps upon the whole the richest, the best cultivated, and the best governed tropical island in the worlda owes its very existence to the same intense volcanic activity which still occasionally devastates its surface.
The great island of Sumatra exhibits, in proportion to its extent, a much smaller number of volcanoes, and a considerable portion of it has probably a non-volcanic origin.
To the eastward, the long string of islands from Java, passing by the north of Timor and away to Banda, are probably all due to volcanic action. Timor itself consists of ancient stratified rocks, but is said to have one volcano near its centre.
Going northward, Amboyna, a part of Bouru, and the west end of Geram, the north part of Gilolo, and all the small islands around it, the northern extremity of Celebes, and the islands of Siau and Sanguir, are wrholly volcanic. The Philippine Archipelago contains many active and extinct volcanoes, and has probably been reduced to its present fragmentary condition by subsidences attending on volcanic action.
All along this great line of volcanoes are to be found more or less palpable signs of upheaval and depression of land. The range of islands south of Sumatra, a part of the south coast of Java and of the islands east of it, the west and east end of Timor, portions of all the Moluccas, the Ke and Aru Islands, Waigiou, and the whole south and east of Gilolo, consist in a great measure of upraised coral rock exactly corresponding to that now forming in the adjacent seas. In many places I have observed the unaltered surfaces of the elevated reefs, with great masses of coral standing up in their natural position, and hundreds of shells so fresh-looking that it was hard to believe that they had been more than a few years out of the water; and, in fact, it is very probable that such Changes have occurred within a few centuries.
The united lengths of these volcanic belts is about ninety degrees, or one-fourth of the entire circumference of the