The Moluccas' nickname 'Spice Islands' is due to the fact that cloves and nutmeg were originally only available in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, which is where the Moluccas are located. Trade also brought Islam and Christianity to the Moluccas.
In the sixteenth century, the Portuguese tried in vain to establish a monopoly on the spice trade. In the seventeenth century, the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC: 'United East-Indian Company'), managed to drive away the Portuguese with the help of local rulers, and after a few wars, it succeeded in establishing a monopoly. This monopoly was to last until the middle of the nineteenth century.