Map of Asia, 1579.
A map of Asia by the famous Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius. The islands that are today part of Indonesia and the Philippines are shown on a larger scale compared to the size of the rest of the continent. This may be due to their relative importance for the spice trade that flourished in the 16th century. The Moluku islands became a special source for spice traders as cloves, mace, and nutmeg could originally only be found in the Moluccas. Long debates related to the position of the islands followed after the division of the World into the eastern Portuguese and western Spanish spheres as both superpowers attempted to keep the revenue from the spice trade.
This period of Maluku and European history is narrated by Charles Corn in his “The Scent of Eden: A History of the Spice Trade”.