North Sulawesi is a land of magnificent coral reefs protecting virginwhite beaches, mountains and active volcanos, reminding the islanders and the world of the potential power of one of the earth's most awesome forces. It is a land of vast coconut plantations fringed along the coastline, which is why the area is also known as "Bumi Nyiur Melambai" or "The Land of Waving Coconut Palms."
The origins of both the names Sulawesi, which has only become common after the Indonesian Independence, and the island's original name Celebes are not clear. Celebes is said to come from the Portuguese, who landed as the first Europeans on the island. When they sailed around it they called it Ponto dos Celebres which means point of the notorious/ill-famed/ill-reputed. This might refer to the many pirates that were sailing in Sulawesi (and Indonesian) waters those days, or to the strong Monsoon winds which caused many ships to sink. A local myth says that when the Portuguese first landed on the island, the captain of the ship met a man who was busy working as a blacksmith. The captain asked the man - in Portuguese - what the name of the island was. The blacksmith, not understanding, thought the captain had asked him what he was doing, and answered "sele besi", which means "heat iron" or "work with iron". The captain was satisfied with the answer and registered Selebesi as name of the island in his logbook.The modern name Sulawesi is said to be derived from the two words sula (island) and besi (iron), referring to the rich sources of iron on the island.
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