Ternate and neighbouring Tidore are ancient Islamic sultanates with a long history of bitter rivalry. The islands were once the world's single major producer of cloves, a commodity that allowed their sultans to become amongst the wealthiest and most powerful of all sultans in the Indonesian region. In the precolonial era, Ternate was the dominant political and economic power over most of the "Spice Islands" of Maluku.
Ternate is dominated by the volcanic Mount Gamalama (1715 metres). An 1840 eruption destroyed most houses. Recent eruptions occurred in 1980, 1983, 1994 and 2011. During the 2011 eruption, Indonesia closed a domestic airport near the volcano for several days following ash emissions that reached 2,000 metres into the atmosphere. The foothills are home to groves of clove trees, and climbs to the peak of the volcano can be made. The airport lies along the northeast coastline. Hiri island is a volcanic cone lying off the northern tip of Ternate. Crocodile-infested crater Tolire Lake lies in the northwest and is bordered by sheer cliffs. Ternate beaches include Sulamadaha (on the northern tip), Afetaduma and Jouburiki in the west, and the beach at the village of Kastela in the southeast.
Sultan Babullah Airport is on the island and is served by Wings Air (Group Lion Air), Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Express Air of Trigana Air. Connections are via Makassar, and Manado via Sorong. In addition there are direct flights to Jakarta on Batavia Air, Sriwijaya Air and Garuda Indonesia.
Pelni provides ship connections.
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