You’d be forgiven for thinking that the above is a photo of the Scottish Highlands. In fact, it was taken in central Sulawesi.

It is but one example of the biodiversity in this part of the world: a home to mountains, to beaches, to lakes, to two ecozones, all reduced to one word that lumps it in with everywhere else on the same latitude: the Tropics. Gah!

Sulawesi is, quite literally, a meeting of many worlds.1 The odd shape of the island resulted when its now-eastern arm broke off from the northward-drifting Australian continent and hit the western part of the island.

This caused the whole long land mass to boomerang, opening up the Gulf of Bone and creating a northern peninsula, in addition to an eastern and western one.

And so, Sulawesi boasts two completely different ecozones, falling as it does between the Wallace Line, which marks the end of the Asian ecozone, and the Lydekker Line, which marks the end of the Australian one. Here, but no further east nor west, you will find primates such as the Sulawesi black-crested macaque sharing forests with marsupials such as the cuscus bear.

Because of the vast variations in its geography, Sulawesi also has many instances of allopatry, or a non-overlapping distribution of related species or sub-species. What would have started out as a single species was disrupted, resulting in subsequent populations evolving in isolation such that when the disruption was eventually removed, the populations had become reproductively incompatible.

The biodiversity of Sulawesi is mirrored in the diversity of its peoples. It is home to over one hundred languages. And it is but one island in the Indonesian archipelago. One can only imagine the challenges involved in creating a nation out of this vast marine Babel.