Sulawesi Language Alliance

Championing Local Languages in the Heart of Indonesia

About Sulawesi

Sulawesi Language Alliance exists to help ethnic minorities of Sulawesi reclaim and preserve their language and cultural heritage.

Where is Sulawesi?

Sulawesi is a rugged, mountainous island located in the heart of Indonesia in tropical Southeast Asia. Just to its north are the Philippines; if instead you travel south, you will eventually run into western Australia.

Map Indonesia and Sulawesi

Sulawesi is the eleventh-largest island in world, about the size of Great Britian. But with four sprawling peninsulas, if overlaid on the U.S. it would stretch from Arkansas to Michigan, and from Iowa to Alabama.

Home to Many Languages

Sulawesi and its environs are home to 113 indigenous languages, making Sulawesi the third-most linguistically diverse island in the world. Only the islands of Borneo and New Guinea have more languages.

Colors on the map indicate the ten major language groups of Sulawesi. Lines represent boundaries of individual languages. For an introduction to how these languages are related to each other, visit our page Classification of Sulawesi Languages.

Of Sulawesi’s languages, only four have more than a million speakers. The vast majority of languages have less than a hundred thousand speakers. In fact half of Sulawesi’s languages have less than fifteen thousand speakers. With such small numbers, many are in jeopardy of fading away entirely from the world’s scene.

Provinces and Population

The island of Sulawesi is divided into six provinces. West Sulawesi is the newest province, created in 2004 from portions of South Sulawesi Province. Gorontalo was formed in 2000 from North Sulawesi Province.

The population of Sulawesi is around fifteen million people, or about seven percent of Indonesia’s total population.

You may also like:
Endangered Languages by the Numbers: Sulawesi Statistics 
Classification of Sulawesi Languages

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