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North Sulawesi

"The town of Manado", wrote the well-known English zoologist Alfred Russel Wallace after a visit to the area in 1859, "is one of the most beautiful places in the East. It looks like a big garden in which rows of villas are built. Wide paths in between are streets, which are usually squared. Good roads split up in several directions to the hinterlands, with some rural houses, nice little gardens and rich plantations, jungle and fruit trees. In the west and south the area is mountainous, with groups of volcanic peaks with a height between 1800 and 2100 meters, which form high and picturesque backgrounds in the landscape... I had heard a lot about the beauty of this country, but reality has surpassed my expectations by far."

Colonial center in the north

Legends, archological remains and linguistic analysis are the only real evidence for the history of North Sulawesi before the 16th century. There hasn't been a 'highly civilised' civilisation here, like on Jawa and B ali, and the precolonial populations didn't leave any written history at all.
In a linguistic view, North Sulawesi is closely related to the Philippines. On the ground of this fact is suggesed that this area became populated from the north. This probably was a complex and long process of migrations and adaptions.

The Minahasa and other populations in the province has another story about their descendance: the myth of Toar and Lumimuut. The original mother Lumimuut was born from the foam of a coral rock, grown up by the sea and fertilized by the wind. She and her son Toar left in separate directions to find a partner. Years after they met eachother but they didn't recognise eachother so they got married and got many children. It is said that Limumuur gathered her children around her near the holy stone Watu Pinabetengan and dedicated different parts of the kingdom to them. These stone with it's unclear inscriptions is located near Langoon.
During the first European contact, North Sulawesi was mainly inhabited in the inlands by populations which did some agriculture on ladang. The Minahasa were not organised in a state, but there were some united villages. Along the coast near Gorontalo, some small kingdoms were founded following the Islamic influence of the Buginese kingdoms in the south and the sultanate of Ternate in the east. Ternate, a strong maritime power which controlled the worlds supply of clove, had considderable influence over northern Sulawesi. The language of Manado contains numerous words which are derived from non-Austronesian languages from Maluku and some traditional titles in Bolaang Mongndow and Gorontalo originsate from a Ternatian language.

Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch

The first westerners which visited the area were the Portuguese; in the middle of the 16th century they send someone to spread their religion. During the next century the Spanish arrived via the Philippines; however they have never settled in big numbers, their influence is still visible. They introduced corn, tomato, chili peppers and horses. Local words for horse are variations on the Spanish caballo; other Spanish and Portuguese words that don't appear in modern day Indonesian were kept in the local lingua franca, the Manado-Malay. Two other curiosities from Minahasa are said to be a heirloom of the Iberians: the Christmas masquerade - a tradition which once was known throughout entire western Europe - and, oddly enough, a dance which is named katrili here, probably a diversion from the French quadrille.
In the middle of the 17th century, the Dutch - under the protection of the East India Company - took over from the Spanish and founded a post on the location of the current city of Manado. In 1659, construction of Fort Amsterdam was started. The Dutch had contacts with the inland in the 17th century already but systematic encapulation in a colonial state didn't work out until the start of the 19th century. Shortly after a swift and large conversion to Protestantism took place. The population was forced by the government to cultivate coffee.

Christianity became a symbol for culture and identity of the Minahasa; it helped reinforcing the relation with the European culture, and in some cases a relation with Dutch interests only. The church and the Dutch government were helpfull with spreading education and elementary healthcare. Against the turn of the century there was one school for every 1000 people, while the rate on Jawa was no better than 1 for 50.000. This caused the district to have the highest number of of literate people in 1930 (Malay as well as Dutch) in the country. The Minahasa formed an important part of thye colonial bureaucracy of the army.
The Japanese occupation was followed by a recovery of Dutch souvereignity, and revolutionary activities which brought independence in 1949. At the start, the revolution wasn't supported by everyone in North Sulawesi. Just before independence, many Minahasa migrated to the Netherlands.

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