Where are the East Indies Located?

   The islands of the East Indies make up the largest group of islands in the world. They lie between Australia and southeastern Asia. There are five big islands in the group. The biggest, New Guinea, is the next-to-the-largest island in the whole world. Borneo is only a little smaller than New Guinea, and Sumatra is not far behind. There are several thousand smaller islands in the group. These islands cover an area of more than 1,000,000 square miles altogether.
   It is hot the year round in the East Indies, and there is a great deal of rain. Much of the land on some of the islands is covered with jungle. There are many mountains. More than 100 of them are volcanoes, some of which are still active.
   Not very long after a Portuguese explorer found a way around Africa to India, Dutch traders began sailing over that route to the Far East. They came to the East In­dies and built trading posts there. Valuable tea and spices were shipped from the East Indies to Europe. A powerful Dutch trading company, the Dutch East India Company, succeeded in driving out British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese traders. Little by little the Dutch took possession of most of the land in the islands. The island territories the Dutch owned came to be called the Netherlands Indies.
   After World War II all parts of the Neth­erlands Indies except New Guinea became independent. They now form the Republic of Indonesia.