There is considerable reason to think, however, that the more frequent ports of call in the Straits of Malacca were situated in Sumatra, rather than on the shores of the Malay Peninsula, and two famous medieval travellers, Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta, both called and wintered at the former, and make scant mention of the latter.
Many quadrupeds, such as the honey-bear and the rhinoceros, are common to all, but while the tiger is common both in the Malayan Peninsula and in Sumatra, it does not occur in Borneo; the elephant, so common in the peninsula, and found in Borneo, is unknown in Sumatra; and the orang-utan, so plentiful in parts of Borneo and parts of Sumatra, has never been discovered in the Malay Peninsula.
Now, mere geographical considerations, taken from the situation and configuration of the islands of the so-called Indian or Malay Archipelago, would indicate that they extended in an unbroken series from the shores of the Strait of Malacca to the southern coast of New Guinea, which confronts that of north Australia in Torres Strait, or even farther to the eastward.
This latter was the continuation through southern Siam of the line already constructed from Bangkok south-west to Petchaburi (110 m.), with funds borrowed, under a recent agreement, from the Federated (British) Malay States government, which work, following upon surveys made in 1907, was begun in 1909 under the direction of a newly constituted southern branch of the Royal Railways department.
The Malay affinities of Malagasy were noted in the 16th century; indeed, the second and fifth books published upon the country (in 1603 and 1613) were comparative vocabularies of these two languages.
The geographical range of the leopard embraces practically all Africa, and Asia from Palestine to China and Manchuria, inclusive of Ceylon and the great Malay Islands as far as Java.
Odoric set out on his travels about 1318, and his journeys embraced parts of India, the Malay Archipelago, China and even Tibet, where he was the first European to enter Lhasa, not yet a forbidden city.
This species has a more extensive geographical range than the last, being found in the Bengal Sundarbans near Calcutta, Burma, the Malay Peninsula, Java, Sumatra and Borneo.
The importance of the Malay Peninsula, as has been noted, consisted in the privilege which its locality conferred upon it of being the distributing centre of the spices brought thither from the Moluccas en route for India and Europe.
Between the islands of the Malay archipelago from Sumatra to New Guinea, and the neighbouring Asiatic continent, no definite relations appear ever to have existed, and no distinctly marked boundary for Asia has been established by the old geographers in this quarter.