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The Confederated Communes of Minahasa

The Confederated Communes of Minahasa
Konfederasi Wanua-Wanua Minahasa

"Si Tou Timou Tumou Tou"

"The purpose of life is to help others"


"The Internationale"

Link"Minahasa Kinatouanku"
"Minahasa, My Homeland"



1°29′N 124°51′E

Official languages

Manado Malay
Kawanua Sign Language

Regional languages





Confederated soviet democracy


John Wenas


2 March 1957


4,728.52 km²
(1,825.69 sq mi)


(past: Kawanua Gulden)

Time zone


Date format


Driving side


The Confederated Communes of Minahasa (Manado Malay: Konfederasi Wanua-Wanua Minahasa) is a country located on the northern peninsula of the island of Celebes. Its capital is Manado.

Minahasa is a confederation consisting of nine communes (Maka-siouw); Tonsea, Tombulu, Tontemboan, Tondano, Tonsawang, Bajo, Bantik, Bentenan, and Ponosakan. The majority of the population of Minahasa is ethnically Minahasan, with sizable Mongondow, Sangirese, Chinese, and Dutch minorities.


The name Minahasa is etymologically derived from the words Minaesa or Maesa which can be translated as "being one" or "uniting". The word Minahasa appeared in written sources for the first time in 1789. The land is also referred to as Malesung.

The standard way to refer to a citizen of Minahasa is as a "Kawanua."



Archaeological research has revealed signs of human life in the northern Celebes since 30,000 years ago, based on evidence in the cave Liang Sarru on the island of Salibabu. Other evidence shows life about 6,000 years ago on the Passo Hillside Site in Kakas District and 4,000 years ago to early CE at the Liang Tuo Mane'e cave in Arangkaa on Karakelang Island.

Waruga, a type of sarcophagus
traditionally used by the Minahasans

Minahasa was the location of one of the first southward Austronesian migrations patterns in the late third and second millennia BCE. The generally-accepted hypothesis is that the Austronesian people originally inhabited Taiwan, before migrating and colonising areas in the northern Philippines, the southern Philippines, Borneo, and Celebes before splitting into separate groups, with one heading west to Java, Sumatra, and Malaya, while the other moved east towards Oceania.

According to Minahasan mythology, the first people in Minahasa were descendants of Toar and Lumimuut. Initially, they were divided into 3 groups: Makatelu-pitu (three times seven), Makarua-siouw (two times nine) and Pasiowan-telu (nine times three). They multiplied quickly, but soon there were clashes among them. Their tonaas (leaders) then decided to meet in Awuan (north of Tonderukan hill) and held a meeting to settle the disputes. That meeting was called Pinawetengan u-nuwu (dividing of language) or Pinawetengan um-posan (dividing of ritual). At that meeting the descendants were divided into three groups named Tonsea, Tombulu, and Tontemboan. At the place where this meeting took place a memorial stone called Watu Pinawetengan (Stone of Dividing) was then built.

The groups Tonsea, Tombulu, and Tontemboan established their main territories which were Niaranan, Maiesu, and Tumaratas respectively. Soon several villages were established outside these territories. These new villages then became a ruling center of a group of villages called puak, later walak (district).

Other groups of people built villages surrounding a large lake in the highlands. They then were called Tondano, Toudano or Toulour (water people). Tonsawang people established villages around Tombatu and Touluaan.

In the following times, more groups came to Minahasa:

  • Bantik people who came to the area around Malalayang.

  • Pasan and Ratahan (Bentenan) people in southeastern part of Minahasa.

  • Ponosakan people from Bolaang-Mongondow.

  • Babontehu (Bajo) people, who settled in Lembeh, Talisei, Manado Tua, Bunaken and Mantehage. They landed in Sindulang then established a kingdom called Manado which ended in 1670 and became walak Manado.

Colonial Period

The Minahasaraad, 1925

At the end of the 16th century, the Portuguese and the Spanish arrived in Minahasa. The Spanish had already set themselves up in the Philippines and Minahasan lands was used to plant coffee that came from South America. Manado was further developed by the Spanish to become the center of commerce for the Chinese traders who traded coffee. With the help of Minahasan allies the Spanish took over the Portuguese fortress in Amurang in the 1550s, and Spanish settlers established a fort in Manado.

By the early 17th century the Dutch had toppled the Ternate sultanate, and then set about eclipsing the Spanish and Portuguese. In 1677 the Dutch occupied Sangir and, two years later, the Dutch governor of Maluku visited Manado. Out of this visit came a treaty with the local Minahasan chiefs, which led to domination by the Dutch for the next 3 centuries. Relations with the Dutch were often less than cordial. A war was fought around Tondano between 1807 and 1809, and the region did not actually come under direct Dutch rule until 1870.

The Dutch furthered the unification of Minahasa, and in 1693 the Minahasans obtained a military victory against the Mongondow in the south. The colonial administration and Dutch missionaries undertook various policies which resulted in consolidation of the region and the increased use of the Manado Malay language. The missionary schools in Manado in 1881 were one of the first attempts of mass education in the Netherlands Indies, providing an opportunity for graduates to find employment as civil servants, army, and other positions in the colonial government. The Minahasaraad (Council of Minahasa), a directly elected representative body, was established in 1919.


The Japanese occupation of 1942–45 was a period of deprivation, and the Allies bombed Manado heavily in 1945. Dutch control was reinstated after the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. As the Netherlands Indies lurched from crisis to crisis, there were increasing calls for decolonization and a growing resentment toward Dutch economic monopoly.

In early 1957, members of the Minahasaraad visited Batavia and urged the Dutch government to provide greater autonomy for eastern regions of the Netherlands Indies. On 1 March 1957, the leaders returned to Manado because their efforts were unsuccessful. The Minahasaraad, dominated by left-wing parties and labor union representatives, met a few days before to plan the declaration of independence in the event that there was no concrete response from the Dutch government.

On 2 March 1957 in Manado, the Minahasaraad issued the Charter of Universal Struggle (Piagam Perjuangan Semesta, or Permesta) and declared the establishment of a confederal system of government as the Confederated Communes of Minahasa.


Lake Tondano
Most of Minahasa consists of mountains and hills interspersed by valleys. The Minahasa highlands are located around Tondano Caldera, a 20 × 30 km wide caldera which was formed in the Late Miocene or Early Pliocene by a massive eruption. Some of the most prominent volcanoes in Minahasa are Mount Klabat (1,995 m) and Mount Tangkoko (1,149 m) in Tonsea; Mount Soputan (1,789 m) in Tontemboan; Mount Lokon-Empung (1,579 m) and Mount Mahawu (1,331 m) in Tombulu.

The rivers in Minahasa are Tondano River (40 km), Poigar River (54.2 km), Ranoyapo River (51.9 km), and Talawaan River (34.8 km). Lake Tondano is the largest lake in Minahasa.

Along the coast of Minahasa there are several headlands (Manado Malay: Tanjung) and bays (Manado Malay: Teluk). Some of the prominent headlands are Tanjung Atep, Tanjung Pulisan, and Tanjung Kelapa. The well-known bays include Amurang Bay, Belang Bay, Manado Bay, and Kema Bay.


The climate of Minahasa is tropical rainforest (Köppen: Af). The west winds bring rain on the north coast in November to April, whereas dry winds blow from the south in May to October. The annual rate of rainfall is ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 mm (79 to 118 in), and the number of rainy days varies between 90 and 139 days. The average annual temperature is 25 °C (77 °F). The average maximum air temperature is recorded at 30 °C (86 °F) and the minimum average air temperature is 22.1 °C (71.8 °F).


Bunaken National Marine Park

In general, the varieties of flora and fauna in Minahasa are similar to those in other parts of Wallacea. Some animals that could be found are Manguni, Maleo, Taong, Babirusa, Spectral Tarsier in Bitung Nature Reserve and Coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis, Manado Malay: raja laut) off the coast of Manado. Bunaken National Park provides habitat to 390 species of coral as well as many fish, mollusk, reptile and marine mammal species.

Minahasa is partly dominated by forest. Forest cover ranges from 300 metres from sea level to mountain tops with various types of timber, including ebony (wooden) iron wood, linggua wood, cempaka wood, wooden nantu, gopasa wood, meranti wood, There are also rattan, and various types of Dammar. In addition, there are many plantation crops such as coconut, nutmeg, cloves, and coffee.



The Minahasan people are the dominant ethnic group in the country. They mostly live in Manado, Tonsea, Tombulu, Tondano, Tontemboan and Tonsawang. Other ethnic groups are the Mongondow people (Ponosakan) and Sangirese people (Bantik and Bentenan).

The Bajo people are seafaring nomads who migrated from the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines. They inhabits the northern part of Minahasa.

There is a significant Chinese population in Minahasa, especially around the city of Manado. Most of the Chinese population in Minahasa are Hakka, while a small number of Hokkien and Cantonese population also exist.

A small number of Europeans remain in the country. They are descended mostly from 19th-century Dutch immigrants, and to a lesser degree other European groups, such as Portuguese.

Other ethnic groups such as the Javanese and the Sundanese also exist. They migrated to Minahasa mostly due to the transmigration program enacted by the Dutch during the colonial era. They generally live in urban areas, such as Manado and Bitung.


Manado Malay is the official language of the country. Official documents released by the government as well as road signs are all written in Manado Malay. This language resembles Standard Malay but with a distinct accent and dialect. Some of the vocabulary are derived from Dutch, Portuguese and other foreign languages. Manado Malay is used for day-to-day communication between different ethnic groups.

Minahasan languages, a branch of the Philippine languages, are spoken by the Minahasan people. They are spread around the central and northern part of the country. In Minahasa, 5 distinct languages are spoken: Tonsawang, Tontemboan, Toulour, Tonsea and Tombulu.

Ponosakan language belongs to the Gorontalo–Mongondow group. This language is spoken by the Ponosakan people in and around Ratatotok.

South Sangiric languages are spoken in scattered locations in Minahasa. Bantik is spoken in the Manado region, while Ratahan is spoken just south of Lake Tondano.

Bajaw language is used by the Bajo people in various coastal settlements in Minahasa.

Other language spoken are Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese. Hakka is also spoken by some Chinese people. Other Chinese dialects are also spoken, such as Hokkien and Cantonese. Dutch and Portuguese are used by the descendants of Europeans.