Politically Borneo is divided into four portions: (1) British North Borneo, the territory exploited and administered by the Chartered British North Borneo Company, to which a separate section of this article is devoted; (2) Brunei, a Malayan sultanate under British protection; (3) Sarawak, the large territory ruled by raja Brooke, and under British protection in so far as its foreign relations are concerned; and (4) Dutch Borneo, which comprises the remainder and by far the largest and most valuable portion of the island.
This may be taken to indicate that when first the Malays became acquainted with the fruits which are indigenous in Malayan lands they already possessed a language in which most primary words were represented, and also that their tongue had attained to a stage of development which provided for the formation of compound words by a system sanctioned by custom and the same linguistic instinct which causes a Malay to-day to form similar compounds from European and other foreign roots.
The seashore and the country bordering closely on the west coast are inhabited chiefly by Dusuns, by Kadayans, by Bajaus and Ilanuns - both Malayan tribes - and by Brunei Malays.
These people inhabit the whole of the Malayan Peninsula to the borders of lower Siam, the islands in the vicinity of the mainland, the shores of Sumatra and some portions of the interior of that island, Sarawak and Brunei in Borneo, and some parts of Dutch Borneo, Batavia and certain districts in Java, and some of the smaller islands of the archipelago.
The state of North Borneo may roughly be said to form a pentagon of which three sides, the north-west, northeast and east are washed by the sea, while the remaining two sides, the south-west and the south, are bordered respectively by the Malayan sultanate of Brunei, and by the territories of the raja of Sarawak and of the Dutch government.
The Moluccas were, from the first, the objective of the Portuguese invaders, and no sooner had the white men found their way round the Cape of Good Hope and established themselves successively upon the coast of East Africa, in the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Aden and the Malabar coast, than Malacca, then the chief trading centre of the Malayan Archipelago, became the object of their desire.
The dog, the cat, the pig, the domestic fowl (which is not very obviously related to the bantam of the woods), the buffalo, a smaller breed than that met with in the Malayan Peninsula, and in some districts bullocks of the Brahmin breed and small horses, are the principal domestic animals.
Some places, such as Bidi in Sarawak, for instance, are notoriously unhealthy; but from the statistics of the Dutch government, and the records of Sarawak and British North Borneo, it would appear that the European in Borneo has in general not appreciably more to fear than his fellow in Java, or in the Federated Malay States of the Malayan Peninsula.
Their language, which is neither monosyllabic nor tonic, has nothing in common with that of the MonAnnam group. It has, moreover, been pointed out that had the Malays been driven southwards by the stronger races of the mainland of Asia, it might be expected that the people inhabiting the country nearest to the border between Siam and Malaya would belong to the Malayan and not to the Mon-Annam or Mon-Khmer stock.
The natives, still mainly independent of their nominal Dutch and Portuguese rulers, are divided into many hostile tribes, speaking as many as forty distinct Papuan and Malayan languages or dialects.