Sulawesi

If you think Sulawesi's geography looks fantastic on the map, just wait until you see it for real. The massive island’s multilimbed coastline is drawn with sandy beaches that fringe coral reefs and a mind-boggling variety of fish. Meanwhile, its interior is shaded by impenetrable mountains and jungles that are thick with wildlife, such as rare nocturnal tarsiers and flamboyantly colourful maleo birds. Cultures have been able to independently evolve here, cut off from the rest of the world by the dramatic topography. Meet the Toraja highlanders, with their elaborate funeral ceremonies in which buffaloes are sacrificed and balok (palm sugar wine) flows freely; the Minahasans in the far north, who offer spicy dishes of everything from stewed forest rat to grilled fish; and the Bugis, who are mainly found inhabiting Sulawesi's coastal regions and are Indonesia’s most famous seafarers.

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