Indonesia is a presidential republic consisting of thirty three provinces with Jakarta as the capital city. It is the world’s 16th-largest country in terms of land area and comprises more than 17,000 islands, lying between 11°S and 6°N latitude and 95°E and 141°E longitude. The main islands are Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi and New Guinea (several are shared with other countries). Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, with approximately 250 million people. In terms of GDP, the Indonesian economy is between the 15th to 20th largest in the world. Indonesia is extremely biologically diverse (second only to Brazil), its flora and fauna both being mixtures of Asian and Australasian species. The island of Sulawesi is exemplary in this regard.
Sulawesi, the Island
Sulawesi was formed through the collision of segments from the Asian and Australian tectonic plates. That is why its flora and fauna is a mix of both Asian and Australasian species. There are six national parks, nineteen nature reserves, and three protected marine areas. Bunaken National Park, only several kilometers from Manado, encompasses a coral ecosystem which has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are more than 120 species of mammals found in Sulawesi, a large percentage of them being endemic (meaning they are not found anywhere else). There also more than 400 bird species present.
Minahasa, the Region
Minahasa is the northern-most part of the province of North-Sulawesi. Although the majority of Indonesians are Muslim, the majority people living here(Minahasa) are Christian. A number of important nature reserves and marine areas are located in this region.
Manado, the City
Manado is the capital of the province of North Sulawesi and has a population of about 500,000. It has an international airport and is a key transit point for the region. Many visitors are ecotourists who come for scuba diving and snorkeling in the nearby marine parks and reserves. Deep sea fishing is also available in the area.
The city lies on the Bay of Manado and is surrounded by hills of volcanic origin. It has a tropical rainforest climate, receiving roughly 3000 mm of rain per year. The “wet season” lasts eight months from November through June, the remaining four months being somewhat drier. The daily average temperature remains fairly constant throughout the year, with a daily high of around 30 degrees Centigrade and a low of around 24 degrees.
Manado is very lively and good restaurants abound, while prices are extremely reasonable (for example, an excellent lunch can be had for the equivalent of 3.00 $US or less). There are many well-stocked, modern supermarkets and there is an abundance of consumer goods. Public transportation in the form of passenger vans (mikrolets) is ubiquitous, as are taxis (both car and motorcycle) and small, horse-drawn wagons.
The people of Manado are famous for their hospitality and out-going, friendly ways as they have long lived by their motto: “torang semua bersudara”, meaning: “we are all brothers and sisters”. The city of Manado is well known as one of the most peaceful in the country.