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The contents of Sulawesi are as beguiling as its shape. Just as this splay-limbed tropical island was formed by the complex and sometimes violent connection of tectonic plates, its fascinating social fabric is the result of the complex and sometimes violent connection of ethnic groups, religions and ecosystems.

Flanked by teeming waters and reefs, Sulawesi's interior is mountainous and cloaked in dense jungle. Here rare species such as nocturnal tarsiers and flamboyant maleo birds survive – as do proud cultures, long isolated by impenetrable topography from the onslaughts of modernity.

Meet the Toraja highlanders, with their elaborate funeral ceremonies and beautiful architecture; the Minahasans in the north, who offer spicy dishes made of everything from fish to stewed forest rat; and the lowland and coastal Bugis, Indonesia’s most (in)famous seafarers.

It all combines – the land and the people – to make Sulawesi one of the most compelling islands in Indonesia.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Sulawesi.

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