ABOUT SULAWESI

People

The people of Sulawesi have developed a special relationship with some of their wildlife. The sales of Maleo eggs is deeply rooted in Sulawesi culture. Despite the trade in these eggs is forbidden, they are still collected and sold at markets, mainly in remote places. Local communities are often not aware that their Maleo is indeed their Maleo, not to be found at any other place on earth.

Sulawesi’s cultural diversity is best illustrated by the great variety of languages spoken. No less than 114 different languages are present on the island. The Gorontalo language is spoken by 900.000 people and forms one of the most commonly spoken, yet isolated languages of Indonesia. Intriguing, the area around Nantu Forest lacks precise information on the language spoken... For more information click here.

The different languages reflect the cultural diversity that has evolved on the island. Sulawesi used to be the home of many small kingdoms, including the area around Gorontalo. These kingdoms often gained income through the sales of wildlife products, such as Maleo eggs.

Topography

Sulawesi is the world's 11th and Indonesia's 4th largest island measuring 175.000km2. It has 17.000.000 inhabitants with Makassar in the south and Manado in the north being the major cities. The distance between the two is 950 km, as the crow flies. Gorontalo province is situated in the middle of the upper arm of Sulawesi. It is one of the smallest provinces of Indonesia with a little over 1.000.000 people.

The northern arm of Sulawesi is situated just north of the equator, the main part lays south. As is to be expected, the climate is hot and humid with most rainfall between October and April, though great regional differences exist. Winds have a great influence on transportation. The northern monsoon makes sea journeys along the northcoasts complicated between October and April, while the southern, dryer winds cause waves along the southcoasts between May and September.

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are a common phenomenon, the latter particularly in the north. The northern arm of Sulawesi is part of the Ring of Fire, the chain of volcanoes that encircles the Pacific Ocean. More news on the latest eruption of Mount Lokon in the far north of Sulawesi can be found here.

Wallace (a)

Alfred Russel Wallace was born on 8 January 1823 as the 7th child of Thomas Vere Wallace and May Anne Greenell. After having been apprentice for his brother William he met with entomologist Henry Bates. He got interested in wildlife and nature and during his free hours he got involved in natural history by reading books and articles about it, in particular of traveling naturalists.

He decided to travel abroad as well and he joined the ship Mischief to the Amazon to collect insects. In August 1852 the ship that brought him back to the UK caught fire and his entire collection went up in flames. After having spent 18 months in London he started what would become his most famous journey, to the East Indies (mainly the former Dutch East Indies). He sailed the archipelago between 1854 and 1862 when he collected 125.000 specimens of which more than a thousand turned out to be new species to science.

Wallace is particularly known for the book he wrote on this journey, The Malay Archipelago, and his correspondence with Charles Darwin. In his famous letter to Darwin, send in February 1858, he described the theory of evolution, without actually mentioning it as such. This letter forced Darwin to finish his book named ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859. Darwin got the credits for ‘inventing’ the theory of evolution, while Wallace remained in the shadow. Sulawesi triggered Wallace in particular when he tried to explain the different life forms he encountered during his voyage. The central part of Indonesia, with Sulawesi as the main island, is called after this most famous explorer that ever visited Indonesia, Wallacea.

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