South Sulawesi is an island at the crossroads of strategic sea lanes famous for its tremendous scenery and the quality and talent of its silk and silverwork industries.
A mountainous, orchid-shaped island, it was heavily influenced by the Spanish and Portuguese, followed by British and Dutch traders who came in search of spices several centuries ago.
Famed for their seafaring culture, the Bugis are still the driving force behind the world's last commercial fleet. The Bugis dominated the southern tip of Sulawesi, but in the north the country is referred to as the 'Land of the Heavenly Kings' because of its unique culture.
The people believe that their forefathers descended from heaven in a boat onto a mountain some 20 generations ago. As a result the Toraja people practice an ancestral cult where death and afterlife ceremonies are great feasts which last for days. The remains of the deceased are placed in a coffin and buried in caves hollowed out in high cliffs. The mouth of the cave is guarded by lifelike statues.
Tongkonan homes are built on stilts with roofs that peak at each end representing the prows of the first ship to arrive. All houses face north because it is believed the ancestors of the Toraja came from the north.
|South-east Sulawesi, which includes Buton Island, Muna Island and other small islands is mostly covered in natural jungle with extensive plantations of teak and ironwood which are used for local handicrafts. Much of the beauty of this region has been preserved by declaring it national park and nature reserves. The province is home to deer, wild pigs, small rodent-like animals called kus-kus, monkeys, snakes, anoa (small buffalo) and numerous varieties of birds. A unique place in this region is the Moramo waterfall. It crosses a two kilometre plateau and has 127 separate terraced plumes, with the top of the waterfall some 100 metres above its basin pool.|
|North Sulawesi has beautiful coral gardens and a multitude of tropical marine life along its coast. White beaches rim its shores, and mountains and volcanoes dominate the landscape with 50 summits, some of which are still active. The capital is Manado and regular flights to all parts of Indonesia service this town.|
The main attractions are offshore with truly amazing coral reefs off nearby Bunaken Island, which is now a protected marine park. Here you can find some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world.
Of particular interest in this group of islands is Watu Pinabetengan, a megalithic stone belonging to the ancestors of Minahasa. Its surface is covered with crude, mysterious drawings and scripts which have never been deciphered. According to history, this place is where the ancestors first divided up the land among the people.
At Waruga, 24 kilometres from Manado, an ancient cemetery of Minahasan ancestors consists of 144 sarcophagi, remnants of the megalithic age, and of special historical value because they are unique square stones with holes in the middle and prism-shaped lids. The sarcophagi are decorated with sculptures and carvings including motifs of human beings, plants and animals and with geometric motifs such as clouds, strings, curls and double braids adorning the lids.