The huge diversity of Sulawesi’s landscapes is only surpassed by the big ethnical, cultural and regligious diversity. Over half of the Sulawesi population lives in the fertile valleys and plains in the south, while another large group lived around Manado and the neighboring Minahasa region in the northeast. Makassar, the biggest city of Sulawesi, is a melting pot of populations and cultures.

Most well-known are the coastal- and lowland-populations from the south: the Buginese (about 3,5 milion), the Makassarese (1,5 milion), the Mandarese (half a milion) and the Toraja (one third of a milion) in the highlands. There are dozens of less known groups: the Wana, Mori, Kaili, Taijo, Pendau, Lauje, Kahumanoan and other groups in the rough inaldn; and the Tolaki in the southeast. In the north, the Minahasa are the big group, but there you also have populations like the Sangirese, the Bolaang Mongondow and the Gorontalo.

Names only cannot express the wealth and complexity of the cultural life. While these groups both have common and separate social conventions and expressive art, there also is much variation. The Minahasa have a strong identity and still speak six different (related, however) languages. The Mandarese, which mainly live from fishery and trade and are usually matched with their southern neighbors, the Buginese, speak several different languages (mainly Mandarese and Campalagian).

The name ‘Toraja’ (from the Buginese to riaja, ‘highland population’) was used for most non-islamic populations in the highlands. But the southern (Sa’dan) Toraja speak a language which is more related with their Mandarese and Buginese neighbors than to the western or eastern Toraja languages. However the Luwurese speak a language which is closely related to that of their Toraja neighbors, they are seen as ‘Buginese’, because of their islamic culture. The Toraja in their turn emphasised their identity the last decades, to oppose them against islam and for the tourists.


The Places ” Must Visit ” in Sulawesi Island :

Standing majestically at the western coast of Makassar Fort Rotterdam is recognized as the city’s most iconic landmark. With historical traces dating back to the Kingom of Gowa from the 16thth century to colonization by the Dutch, this Fort has silently witnessed many episodes in Makassar’s history, playing a most essential role in its development. Its magnificence and authenticity.

Toraja is most well known for its elaborate funeral ceremonies that can take days and involve entire villages. These are not only moments for mourning but are moreover events to renew family ties and to ensure continued unity among villages and communities. Death ceremonies, however, are held only after the last rice harvest is in and cleared, which is normally between July to September, while ceremonies celebrating life are held in conjunction with the planting season which starts in October.  These timings are possible since the dead are not buried immediately but are kept for months, sometimes for years, in the ancestral house until time and funds allow for a proper funeral.

The islands nearest to Makassar, such as Lae-lae and Kayangan, can be reached within 15 minutes by speedboat and are popular weekend getaway resorts, others have fishing villages, while the furthest away such as Kapuposang island, immediately face the deep sea and are therefore ideal for diving and snorkeling.   Best time to visit the islands is during the east-monsoon which is between May through September. This is also the perfect time to go sailing around the islands.  The island of Kayangan is about 2 km from the city facing the harbor and is filled with simple restaurants and has rooms for rent. While Lae-Lae is situated some 1.5 km. from town and is the closest to the city. The island has been extended with a long breakwater at its north side to protect the harbor of Makassar against waves. Lae-Lae today is densely populated, its inhabitants live from fishery and tourism, renting out boats to take tourists back to Makassar or to other islands. The trip to Lae-Lae takes only 10 to15 minutes.

The Bada Valley or Napu Valley, as it is sometimes called, is located in the District of Poso in Central Sulawesi, and is part of the Lore Lindu National Park. The valley is particularly prized for the beauty of its natural environment – a scenic expanse of rice paddies and green plains, engraved with small streams, and surrounded by soft rolling hills which give way to dense forests and rocky mountains. The Lairiang River flows through the entire valley and is crossed by three hanging bridges. This river is irrigated into smaller streams which run across the terraced rice fields. The Bada Valley is world famous for its prehistoric relics from an ancient megalithic culture. Dozens of finely carved megaliths dating between 1,000 – 5,000 years old are scattered across the valley. A mysterious, yet magnificent testament to the skill and genius of a civilization that we know absolutely nothing about.


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