Ternate (tĕrnäˈtā) [key], volcanic island (c.40 sq mi/100 sq km), E Indonesia, in the Molucca Sea, one of the Moluccas. Forested and mountainous, the nearly conical Ternate rises to the summit of Gamalama, or the Peak of Ternate (5,627 ft/1,715 m), the volcano whose flanks form the entire island. Extremely active, Gamalama has erupted more than 70 times since the 1500s. The principal town, also called Ternate, is an important transit port for New Guinea and Halmahera; exports include spices and copra.
Despite its small size, the island was for centuries a major spice center and one of the most important islands of the Moluccas. Ruled by a powerful sultan, it became an important Muslim center in the 15th cent. The Portuguese built a fort there in 1522. They were expelled during a native revolt in 1574. The sultan granted the spice concession to the Dutch in 1607. Popular revolts were suppressed by the Dutch in 1650 and 1683, after which the Dutch were in control until Ternate became part of Indonesia.