Sulawesi is the third largest island in Indonesia. It is divided into six provinces (North Sulawesi, Gorontalo, Central Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, West Sulawesi and South East Sulawesi) and consists of one big island and many archipelagos. The main island covers about 172,000 km2.
Sulawesi is known not only for its unique cultures but also for its coral reefs and marine underwater. Some of the world's class diving spots such as Bunaken Marine Reserve, Wakatobi and Lembeh Straits are located in Sulawesi.
Dominated by mountains, volcanoes and lush valleys, Sulawesi is also home to many wildlife species. The famous small primates Tarsius Tarsier, Black Macaque monkeys and Cuscus for example, can be found in Tangkoko Nature Reserve in North Sulawesi. Another nature reserve, Lore Lindu in Central Sulawesi is the largest habitat for Sulawesi mammals and birds. Rare butterflies species can be found in South Sulawesi, Bulusaraung National Park.
A true treasure of indigenous culture worth visiting in Sulawesi is Tana Toraja. Discovered from long isolation in early 20th century, Toraja tribe lives in the central highlands of Sulawesi.
Toraja is most well-known for its ancient culture of elaborate funeral ceremony. The dead body is usually mummified and kept in the family home for months or even a year to gather far-flung relatives or to raise enough money for the expensive burial. For Torajans, death doesn't end the deep link of the loved one. Periodically some Torajans bring their relatives out of their tombs to clean and give them new clothing or burial shrouds. This unique traditional ceremony usually takes place during the dry season of the year (April to October).
Believed to be the land of heavenly king by its people, Tana Toraja has a wonderful scenery of lush valleys and rice fields sheltered by rocky cliffs. Tana Toraja is also known for its unique ancestral Torajan houses called Tongkonan. In the original Toraja society, only noble had the right to build Tangkonan which requires laborious work to construct.