As the leaves of an orchid in the win - that's how the fierce peninsula's of Sulawesi stretch from the Celebes Sea, Moluccan Sea, Banda Sea and Flores Sea. Inside it's bizarre borders - formed by collisions of ancient continents -, extraordinary landschapes can be found.
The inlands are dominated by the rough, fog covered mountains, tropical rainforests, green ricefields and deep, mysterious lakes. Along the coast, beautiful coral reefs surround the sleeping vulcanoes, which rise from the sea. Remote white sand beaches surrounded by coconut trees and scattered fishery villages are flanked by rough limestone rock layers, which could have been taken directly from a Chinese painting.
On Sulawesi - formerly known as Celebes - lives an astonishing diversity of populations. Along the coasts live fishermen which hunt for sharks, tuna, flying fish, mackerel, squids and another dozen of spiecies. Sailoring and trading populations, mainly the Buginese, Makassarese and Mandarese in the south, are known for their wooden ships with which they even sail as far as Singapore and Australia. The inhabitants of the lowlands cultivate wet and dry ricefields, grow corn, manionk, sago, vegetables, coffee, cacao and clove. Dozens of small groups of inhabitants of the highlands are specialists in ladang-cultivation. Scattered along the coast live the Bajau, which originally lived on boats of which many of them nowadays live on land.
On Sulawesi live muslems, christians, buddhists, hindus and confucianists, as well as supporters of the local religions of which the names are unknown. There are dancers and drummers; weavers of silk sarongs and wealthy ikat; people which process tree bark; ironworkers and construction masters which design houses and ships.
Due to the very long coastal area, Sulawesi never has been an isolated place. For centuries, sailors have maintained connections to the island, through which not only goods, but also ideas, habits and people were transported from India, China, the Middle-East and Europe.
In the 1970's the foreign tourists 'discovered' the colorful ritual life of the Toraja on Sulawesi. But this remarkable culture only contains one part - an important part however - of the complex, always changing mosaic on Sulawesi. This island has a lot to offer for those whith enough time and enthousiasm: from the mysterious megalyths in the Bada Valley to the beautifull coral gardens near Manado.