Sulawesi, formerly known as Celebes, is an island in Indonesia. One of the four Greater Sunda Islands, and the world's eleventh-largest island, it is situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands. In Indonesia, only Sumatra, Borneo and Papua are larger in territory, and only Java and Sumatra have larger populations.
Sulawesi comprises four peninsulas: the northern Minahasa Peninsula; the East Peninsula; the South Peninsula; and the South-east Peninsula. Three gulfs separate these peninsulas: the Gulf of Tomini between northern Minahasa peninsula and East Peninsula; the Tolo Gulf between East and Southeast Peninsula; and the Bone Gulf between the South and Southeast Peninsula. The Strait of Makassar runs along the western side of the island and separates the island from Borneo.
NameThe name Sulawesi possibly comes from the words sula ("island") and mesi ("iron") and may refer to the historical export of iron from the rich Lake Matano iron deposits. It came into common use in English following Indonesian independence.
The name Celebes was originally given to the island by Portuguese explorers
GeologyThe island slopes up from the shores of the deep seas surrounding the island to a high, mostly non-volcanic, mountainous interior. Active volcanoes are found in the northern Minahassa Peninsula, stretching north to the Sangihe Islands. The northern peninsula contains several active volcanoes such as Mount Lokon, Mount Awu, Soputan and Karangetang.
According to plate reconstructions, the island is believed to have been formed by the collision of terranes from the Asian Plate (forming the west and southwest) and from the Australian Plate (forming the southeast and Banggai), with island arcs previously in the Pacific (forming the north and east peninsulas). Because of its several tectonic origin, faults scar the land; as a result, the island is prone to earthquakes.
Sulawesi, in contrast to most of the other islands in the biogeographical region of Wallacea, is not truly oceanic, but a composite island at the centre of the Asia-Australia collision zone. Parts of the island were formerly attached to either the Asian or Australian continental margin and became separated from these areas by vicariant processes. In the west, the opening of the Makassar Strait separated West Sulawesi from Sundaland in the Eocene c. 45 Mya. In the east, the traditional view of collisions of multiple micro-continental fragments sliced from New Guinea with an active volcanic margin in West Sulawesi at different times since the Early Miocene c. 20 Mya has recently been replaced by the hypothesis that extensional fragmentation has followed a single Miocene collision of West Sulawesi with the Sula Spur, the western end of an ancient folded belt of Variscan origin in the Late Paleozoic.
PrehistoryBefore October 2014, the settlement of South Sulawesi by modern humans had been dated to c. 30,000 BC on the basis of radiocarbon dates obtained from rock shelters in Maros. No earlier evidence of human occupation had at that point been found, but the island almost certainly formed part of the land bridge used for the settlement of Australia and New Guinea by at least 40,000 BCE. There is no evidence of Homo erectus having reached Sulawesi; crude stone tools first discovered in 1947 on the right bank of the Walennae River at Berru, Indonesia, which were thought to date to the Pleistocene on the basis of their association with vertebrate fossils, are now thought to date to perhaps 50,000 BC.
Pre-1200 Bugis society was most likely organised into chiefdoms. Some anthropologists have speculated these chiefdoms would have warred and, in times of peace, exchanged women with each other. Further they have speculated that personal security would have been negligible, and head-hunting an established cultural practice. The political economy would have been a mixture of hunting and gathering and swidden or shifting agriculture. Speculative planting of wet rice may have taken place along the margins of the lakes and rivers.
The first Europeans to visit the island (which they believed to be an archipelago due to its contorted shape) were the Portuguese sailors Simão de Abreu, in 1523, and Gomes de Sequeira (among others) in 1525, sent from the Moluccas in search of gold, which the islands had the reputation of producing. A Portuguese base was installed in Makassar in the first decades of the 16th century, lasting until 1665, when it was taken by the Dutch. The Dutch had arrived in Sulawesi in 1605 and were quickly followed by the English, who established a factory in Makassar. From 1660, the Dutch were at war with Gowa, the major Makasar west coast power. In 1669, Admiral Speelman forced the ruler, Sultan Hasanuddin, to sign the Treaty of Bongaya, which handed control of trade to the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch were aided in their conquest by the Bugis warlord Arung Palakka, ruler of the Bugis kingdom of Bone. The Dutch built a fort at Ujung Pandang, while Arung Palakka became the regional overlord and Bone the dominant kingdom. Political and cultural development seems to have slowed as a result of the status quo. In 1905 the entire island became part of the Dutch state colony of the Netherlands East Indies until Japanese occupation in the Second World War. During the Indonesian National Revolution, the Dutch Captain 'Turk' Westerling led campaigns in which hundreds, maybe thousands died during the South Sulawesi Campaign. Following the transfer of sovereignty in December 1949, Sulawesi became part of the federal United States of Indonesia, which in 1950 became absorbed into the unitary Republic of Indonesia.
Central SulawesiThe Portuguese were rumoured to have a fort in Parigi in 1555. The Kaili were an important group based in the Palu valley and related to the Toraja. Scholars relate that their control swayed under Ternate and Makassar, but this might have been a decision by the Dutch to give their vassals a chance to govern a difficult group. Padbruge commented that in the 1700s Kaili numbers were significant and a highly militant society. In the 1850s a war erupted between the Kaili groups, including the Banawa, in which the Dutch decided to intervene. A complex conflict also involving the Sulu Island pirates and probably Wyndham (a British merchant who commented on being involved in arms dealing to the area in this period and causing a row).
In the late 19th century the Sarasins journeyed through the Palu valley as part of a major initiative to bring the Kaili under Dutch rule. Some very surprising and interesting photographs were taken of shamen called Tadulako. Further Christian religious missions entered the area to make one of the most detailed ethnographic studies in the early 20th century. A Swede by the name of Walter Kaudern later studied much of the literature and produced a synthesis. Erskine Downs in the 1950s produced a summary of Kruyts and Andrianis work: "The religion of the Bare'e-Speaking Toradja of Central Celebes," which is invaluable for English-speaking researchers. One of the most recent publications is "When the bones are left," a study of the material culture of central Sulawesi, offering extensive analysis. Also worthy of study is the brilliant works of Monnig Atkinson on the Wana shamen who live in the Mori area.
The Strait of Makassar runs along the western side of the island. The island is surrounded by Borneo to the west, by the Philippines to the north, by Maluku to the east, and by Flores and Timor to the south.
Minor islandsThe Selayar Islands make up a peninsula stretching southwards from Southwest Sulawesi into the Flores Sea are administratively part of Sulawesi. The Sangihe Islands and Talaud Islands stretch northward from the northeastern tip of Sulawesi, while Buton Island and its neighbours lie off its southeast peninsula, the Togian Islands are in the Gulf of Tomini, and Peleng Island and Banggai Islands form a cluster between Sulawesi and Maluku. All the above-mentioned islands, and many smaller ones, are administratively part of Sulawesi's six provinces.
PopulationThe 2000 census population of the provinces of Sulawesi was 14,946,488, about 7.25% of Indonesia's total population. By the 2010 Census the total had reached 17,371,782, and the latest official estimate (for January 2014) is 18,455,058. The largest city is Makassar.
Christians form a substantial minority on the island. According to the demographer Toby Alice Volkman, 17% of Sulawesi's population is Protestant and less than 2% is Roman Catholic. Christians are concentrated on the tip of the northern peninsula around the city of Manado, which is inhabited by the Minahasa, a predominantly Protestant people, and the northernmost Sangir and Talaud Islands. The famous Toraja people of Tana Toraja in Central Sulawesi have largely converted to Christianity since Indonesia's independence. There are also substantial numbers of Christians around Lake Poso in Central Sulawesi, among the Pamona speaking peoples of Central Sulawesi, and near Mamasa.
Though most people identify themselves as Muslims or Christians, they often subscribe to local beliefs and deities as well. It is not uncommon for both groups to make offerings to local gods, goddesses and spirits.
Smaller communities of Buddhists and Hindus are also found on Sulawesi, usually among the Chinese, Balinese and Indian communities.
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