The Maluku Islands (also known as the Moluccas, Moluccan Islands, the Spice Islands) are an archipelago in Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Moluccas Sea Collision Zone. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi (Celebes), west of New Guinea, and north of Timor. The islands were also historically known as the "Spice Islands" by the Chinese and Europeans, but this term has also been applied to other islands outside Indonesia.
Most of the islands are mountainous, some with active volcanoes, and enjoy a wet climate. The vegetation of the small and narrow islands, encompassed by the sea, is very luxuriant; including rainforests, sago, rice and the famous spices - nutmeg, cloves and mace, among others. Though originally Melanesian, many island populations, especially in the Banda islands, were killed off in the 17th century during the Spice wars. A second influx of Austronesian immigrants began in the early 20th century under the Dutch and continues in the Indonesian era.