Laying directly across the equator and the main gate way into the province of West Kalimantan is the provincial capital of Pontianak. This rapidly developing and surprisingly large city was founded in 1771 by Syarif Abdul Rahman Al-Kadri of Saudi Arabia and is now a busy business centre as well as home to a large university and a giant indoor sports stadium. Canals crisscross the city and one of Indonesia's longest rivers, the Kapuas 1,143 km long, divides the town in two, providing an essential and historical communications link. Like Java and Sumatra, West Kalimantan was once an important cultural crossroads. Hinduism reached West Kalimantan by about the year 400 and evidence of both early Hindu and Buddhist civilizations in the region have been discovered. Stone carvings and ceramics can be traced as far back as the 5th century, but it is the influence of Islam that has had the most impact on this region. The advent of Islam in West Kalimantan occurred at about the same time as the rise of the first Islamic Kingdom in Aceh in the 15th century and was introduced primarily from South Sumatra and North Kalimantan, and the country of Brunei. Islam was rapidly embraced and various kingdoms grew in strength and power particularly because of Kalimantan's strategic importance along trade routes to China and the Philippines. West Kalimantan covers an area of over 146.807 sq km, which is rich in a variety of minerals and precious stones and remains largely unexplored. Coastal areas are mainly swamp lands with more than 100 rivers sculpting the flat plains, but in the mountainous eastern parts of the province, away from the city and plains, there are many Dayak villages. The Dayaks have ancient traditions and beliefs which are expressed in various forms; earlobes elongated by heavy earrings, tattoos intricate paintings, designs and carvings and wonderful dances of respect, heroism, welcome and cure. A large Chinese population, Malays and other Indonesian ethnic groups account for the rest of the inhabitants of the province.
PLACES OF INTEREST
As the capital of West Kalimantan, there are some interesting places to visit, among others the Equator Monument, Kadariah palace in Kampung Dalam, the State Museum, the Kapuas and Landak Bridges with a river view and floating market.
Betana (Long House)
On the outskirts of Pontianak is a Daya traditional long house at Saham village. The measures of long house are: 186 m long, 6 m wide 269 people live there.
Gunung Palung Nature Reserve
The Gunung Palung Nature Reserve, located in the Ketapang regency, is home to various flora and fauna, home to orangutan, tarsiers and gibbons.
The Raya Pasi is home to variety flora and fauna, including the parasitic Rafflesia, the largest flower of the world.
Sambas is a former sultanate and pirate's lair. Istana Sambas is one of the remnants of the Sultanate of Sambas, up to the present time it is still kept in good condition.