Sulawesi is the world's eleventh-largest island, covering an area of 174,600 km². The island is surrounded by Borneo to the west, by the Philippines to the north, by Maluku to the east, and by Flores and Timor to the south. It has a distinctive shape, dominated by four large peninsulas: the Semenanjung Minahasa; the East Peninsula; the South Peninsula; and the South-east Peninsula. The central part of the island is ruggedly mountainous, such that the island's peninsulas have traditionally been remote from each other, with better connections by sea than by road.
According to reconstruction of plate tectonics, the island is believed to have been formed by the collision of terranes from the Asian Plate (forming the west and southwest), from the Australian Plate (forming the southeast and Banggai), and from island arcs previously in the Pacific (forming the north and east peninsulas).
The island is subdivided into six provinces: Gorontalo, West Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi and North Sulawesi. West Sulawesi is a new province, created in 2004 from part of South Sulawesi. The largest cities on the island are Makassar, on the southwestern coast of the island, and Manado on the northern tip.
Flora and Fauna
Sulawesi straddles Wallace's Line meaning that it has a mix of both Asian and Australasian species. However, the majority of Sulawesi's wildlife belongs to the Australasia region. 2,290 km² of the island is devoted to Lore Lindu National Park.
There are 127 known mammalian species in Sulawesi. A large percentage of these mammals, 62% (79 species) are endemic, meaning that they are found nowhere else in Indonesia or the world. The largest native mammal in Sulawesi is the dwarf buffalo, locally known as the anoa. Other mammalian species inhabiting Sulawesi are the babirusa, a pig-like animal, the Sulawesi palm civet, several species of cuscus, and primates such as the spectral tarsier and several species macaque; including the crested black macaque, the moor macaque and the booted macaque.
By contrast, because many birds can fly between islands, Sulawesian bird species tend to be found on other nearby islands as well, such as Borneo; only 34% of Sulawesi's birds are found nowhere else. One endemic bird is the largely ground-dwelling, chicken-sized maleo, which reproduces like no other bird: taking advantage of the hot sand produced by the island's volcanic vents, they dig holes in the sand, lay their eggs and promptly leave the scene. There are known 1450 bird species in Sulawesi. The Togean White-eye is another endemic that was described in 2008. An international partnership of conservationists, donors and local people have formed the Alliance for Tompotika Conservation, in an effort to raise awareness and protect the nesting grounds of these birds on the central-eastern arm of the island.
Sulawesi also has several endemic species of freshwater fish, such as those in the genus Nomorhamphus, a species flock of livebearing freshwater halfbeaks containing at least 19 distinct species, most of which are only found on Sulawesi.
The island was recently the subject of an Ecoregional Conservation Assessment, coordinated by the Nature Conservancy. Detailed reports about the vegetation of the island are available. The assessment produced a detailed and annotated list of 'conservation portfolio' sites . This information was widely distributed to local government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Detailed conservation priorities have also been outlined in a recent publication.
The lowland forests on the island are, unfortunately, almost gone. Because of the relative geological youth of the island and its dramatic and sharp topography, the lowland areas are naturally limited in their extent. The past decade has seen dramatic conversion of this rare and endangered habitat. The island also possesses one of the largest outcrops of Serpentine soil in the world, which support an unusual and large community of specialized plant species. Overall, the flora and fauna of this unique center of global biodiversity is very poorly documented and understood and remains critically threatened.
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North Sulawesi - INDONESIA