manhattan or pulau rhun in 1667 nutmeg made the choice a no brainer

The isles of Manhattan and Pulau Rhun could hardly be farther apart, not just in geography, but also in culture, economy and global prominence.

Rhun, in the Banda Sea in Indonesia, has no cars or roads and only about 20 motorbikes. Most people get around by walking along its paved footpaths or up steep stairways, often toting plastic jugs of water from the numerous village wells or sometimes lugging a freshly caught tuna.

But in the 17th century, in what might now seem one of the most lopsided trades in history, the Netherlands believed it got the better part of a bargain with the British when it swapped Manhattan, then known as New Amsterdam, for this tiny speck of land.

The delight the Dutch took in the deal can be summed up in one word: nutmeg.

With its forest of nutmeg, a spice worth its weight in gold at the time, Rhun used to be one of the world’s most valuable patches of real estate.

Rhun has no cars or roads and only about 20 motorbikes. Electricity comes on only at night.
Cellphone service recently arrived on the island, but connections are spotty.

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