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Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory.

The South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand now submerge the former low-lying areas of the peninsula.

Deeper waters separating Borneo from neighbouring Sulawesi prevented a land connection to that island, creating the divide known as Wallace's Line between Asian and Australia-New Guinea biological regions. In Sarawak, the Clearwater Cave has one of the world's longest underground rivers while Deer Cave is home to over three million bats, with guano accumulated to over 100 metres (330 ft) deep.

The Sultanate of Brunei declared independence from Majapahit following the death of Majapahit Emperor in mid-14th century.

During its golden age under Bolkiah from the 15th century to the 17th century, the Bruneian Empire ruled almost the entire coastal area of Borneo (lending its name to the island due to its influence in the region) and several islands in the Philippines.

Its highest point is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, with an elevation of 4,095 m (13,435 ft).

Before sea levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age, Borneo was part of the mainland of Asia, forming, with Java and Sumatra, the upland regions of a peninsula that extended east from present day Indochina.

The Spanish visit to Brunei led to the Castilian War in 1578.

The English began to trade with Sambas of southern Borneo in 1609, while the Dutch only began their trade in 1644: to Banjar and Martapura, also in the southern Borneo.

The name Brunei possibly derives from the Sanskrit word váruṇa (), meaning either "water" or Varuna, the Hindu god of rain.

Indonesian natives called it Kalimantan, which was derived from the Sanskrit word Kalamanthana, meaning "burning weather island" (to describe its hot and humid tropical weather).

See also: Deforestation in Borneo, 1997 Indonesian forest fires, 1997 Southeast Asian haze, 2006 Southeast Asian haze, 2013 Southeast Asian haze, 2015 Southeast Asian haze, and 2016 Southeast Asian haze The island historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the area was reduced due to heavy logging by the Indonesian and Malaysian wood industry, especially with the large demands of raw materials from industrial countries along with the conversion of forest lands for large-scale agricultural purposes.

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