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Kalimantan (or Borneo) was the home of Hindu kings almost 2000 years ago.

Banjarmasin was an Islamic sultanate. There was a British trading post there in the early 1700s. The Dutch consolidated their hold on it in 1860.

The sultanate of Pontianak was founded by Syarif Abdurrahman from Arabia in 1771. The Sambas region and nearby areas have been the scene of violence between native Dayaks and transmigrants in the late 1990s.

Sukadana was traditionally founded by refugees fleeing the fall of Majapahit on Java, and was an important city in the 1500s.

Nearby in Malaysia, Sarawak was founded by British adventurer James Brooke in 1841. Sabah became a British protectorate in 1888 after several colonial powers disputed it. The Sultanate of Brunei maintained semi-independence from Britain, almost joined Malaysia in 1963, but was the target of political intrigues during the Sukarno era.

The cities of eastern Kalimantan are noted for their oil industry. Tarakan was a target for Japanese forces at the beginning of World War II, and was the scene of fighting between Australian and Japanese forces at the end of the war.

The original province of Kalimantan was divided into East, West, and South Kalimantan provinces in 1956. Central Kalimantan province was separated from South Kalimantan in 1958 after tension between the Muslim people of Banjarmasin and the Dayaks of the interior.

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