The world's most strangely formed island, Sulawesi is the island of contrasts. Rugged mountains, virgin rainforests, lush paddy fields, highland lakes and perfect beaches, rich coral reefs, the island's dramatic geographical features share a fabulous tropical setting with an amazing variety of flora and fauna. Unspoilt reserves provide a protected habitat for the indigenous species of Sulawesi, such as the arona, dwarf buffalo and babi rusa or pig deer. Sulawesi, once known as the Celebes, is home to remarkable variety of peoples. Fishermen occupy its coast; sailing and trading peoples, especially the Bugis, Makassar and Mandar peoples of the south, are famous for their notable wooden sailing crafts called "phinisi"; lowlands are occupied by farmers of rice, maize, manioc and other crops. Sulawesi is the home to Muslim, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, as well as followers of indigenous religions. The island is divided into 5 provinces: South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, North Sulawesi and Gorontalo. Makassar, the capital and administrative centre of South Sulawesi, is usually simply passed on the way to Tana Toraja. But the city for almost five hundred years was the entry to the legendary "Spice Islands" of eastern archipelago, has much to offer: shopping, historical sites and busy urban setting. Rantepao is a little town, where begins and end ends journey into Tana Toraja, the "Land of the Heavenly Kings" whose unique culture rivals any in the archipelago. South Sulawesi is famous for its tremendous scenery but also for the quality and talent of its silk and silver work industries, however the economy is largely based on agriculture. Central Sulawesi is an enormous, mountainous province of virgin forests and rocky panorama. Until recently, few westerners visited the region, which is cut off from the south by a natural barrier of jungle and mountain. North Sulawesi is a craggy, forested set with stunning vistas of active volcanoes and clove trees. The area offers world-famous scuba diving, volcano climbing, serene mountain resorts, natural parks, and unique Minahasan culture. The main attraction of Southeast Sulawesi is its impressive surroundings, and the fact that it is so isolated. Southeast Sulawesi covers Southeast peninsula, Buton Island, Muna Island and small islands spread out at South and South East of peninsula. Most of the land area is covered by natural jungle, with extensive plantations of teak and ironwood, which are used for local handicrafts and contribute to the local economy.
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