Makassar is the provincial capital of South Sulawesi, and the most populated city in Sulawesi. Its history can be traced back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and the 9th King of Gowa Tumaparisi Kallonna is thought to be the first person to develop the city of Makassar. By the 16th C, Makassar was the dominant trading center of eastern Indonesia, and soon became one of the largest cities in island Southeast Asia. The Makassar kings maintained a policy of free trade, insisting on the right of any visitor to do business in the city, and rejecting the attempts of the Dutch to establish a monopoly, which allowed Makassar to become a key center for spice trade, attracting European and Arab traders and providing jobs for Malays in the area.
In 1511, Portugese sailors settled and found Makassar a thriving cosmopolitan Entrepôt, where Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Siamese, Javanese, and Malays came to trade their manufactured metal goods and textiles for pearls, gold, copper, camphor and spices – nutmeg, cloves and mace imported from the interior and the neighbouring Spice Islands of Maluku. By the 16th century, Makassar had become Sulawesi's major port and centre of the powerful Gowa and Tallo sultanates which between them had a series of 11 fortresses and strongholds and a fortified sea wall that extended along the coast, the fort of Makassar.
In 1667, the Dutch replaced the Portugese as colonial masters, and captured the fort of Makssar, rebuilding it and calling it Fort Rotterdam (mouseover: see our post on Fort Rotterdam here), which remains today. Although the Dutch controlled the coast, it was not until the early 20th century that they gained power over the southern interior through a series of treaties with local rulers.
In World War II the Makassar area was defended by approximately 1000 men of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army commanded by Colonel M. Vooren. He decided that he could not defend the coast, and was planning to fight a guerrilla war inland. The Japanese landed near Makassar on 9 February 1942. The defenders retreated but were soon overtaken and captured.
Following the Indonesian National Revolution in 1950, Makassar was the site of fighting between pro-Federalist forces under Captain Abdul Assiz and Republican forces under Colonel Sunkono during the Makassar uprising. By the 1950s, the population had increased to such a degree that many of the historic sites gave way to modern development, although preserving those of largest historic significance. (to be further edited)
Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s most unique islands, with a complex geology owing to major tectonic action caused by collision of three lithospheric plates some 250 million years ago. Situated between the Maluku Islands and Borneo, Sulawesi boasts the fourth-largest area and third-largest population of any of Indonesia's islands.
Rock-built shelters discovered in Maros in the South Sulawesi province indicate that the first humans settled here around 30,000 BC, roughly 10,000 years after the island was part of the land bridge that once linked present-day Indonesia to Australia. The world’s oldest hand stencil can also be found in the Pettakere Caves in Maros(mouseover: our visit to Pettakere Cave). The first settlers lived on the island's south and north-west coasts, with the Bugis later becoming Sulawesi's most dominant ethnic group.
The Bugis chiefdoms frequently traded women in peacetime and battled each other during times of conflict. Head hunting was a common tradition. The political economy was a mixture of hunting and gathering and agriculture, likely of wet rice along the margins of lakes and rivers.
The island's colonial history began when Portuguese sailors in search of gold set foot on Sulawesi in 1511 and named the island 'Celebes'. The Dutch and English arrived during the early 17th century. Arung Palakka, a warlord who ruled a Bugis kingdom called Bone, helped the Dutch conquer Sulawesi at the end of the 1660s. Bone became the island's dominant kingdom during the Dutch rule, which brought its cultural development to a halt.