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YB4IR/8 YB8RW/P Sula Islands

Imam, YB4IR and Din, YB8RW will be active from Sula Islands (IOTA OC-076) 5 - 9 October 2014 as YB4IR/8 and YB8RW/P.
They will be active on 40 - 10m CW, SSB, RTTY.
QSL via home calls.

The Sula Islands: the hidden agricultural gem of Indonesia

The Sula Islands are a number of small islands that can be found in the North Maluku area of Indonesia. As they are a group of islands, the inhabitants are spread out between Sula and Mangole Island. Most Sula people though reside on the island of Sula. The population is very small with only about 130 000 inhabitants amongst these islands.

The vast dialects within the region

For a place with such a small group of islands and a slow growing population the Sula Islands have a diverse language system. There are in total 6 different types of languages that the locals use to converse. The Sula language has its own three dialects and this is spoken along with Taliabu, Kadai and Mangole. What is truly fascinating is the three dialects that are spoken in the Sula language. In the villages of Fasei in the South you will find the Fasei dialect. In the Bega and Falahu villages of Sulabesi and in some parts of Mangole you will find the second dialect, Falahu. The third and final dialect of the Sula language is Fangudu. This is found in other villages around Sulabesi and surrounding areas of the western and eastern parts of Mangole. It is surprising to see the development of their linguistics based on the small area within which they live. The diversity in these cultures is truly remarkable.

Agriculture is alive and thriving

Long before the Europeans knew of the ‘Spice Islands’, the Sula islands were controlled under force by the Tidore Sultanate. Sulabesi in Sula soon after became the main centre of trade for all spices and spice traders. The Portuguese arrived in the early 1500’s and made the conflict with the area much worse. This is when the Dutch won the battle and took the lands for themselves. They made extremely high profits over the next three centuries until the spice trade hit a decline.

This never stopped the land from its development as the agriculture sector within this region is still thriving. For such a small area of land it is phenomenal to see the diversity in not only what is grown but how much is produced. Some of the great treasures from this region include cassava, groundnuts, mango, mangosteen, durian and sweet potatoes. The production is over 35 000 tons per year which is great for such a small land space.

The spice trade still is growing strong as the Taliabu-Sanana District is the main producer of copra, cocoa, nutmeg and cloves. As well as a major contributor in the production of a large number of coconut products. Even the fish industry is doing well with 45 000 tons a year being sold all over the world. Unfortunately the country on this level is still being exploited on a small scale.

The appreciation and use of their natural resources

These gorgeous tropical islands are covered in lush and overgrown forests. A true adventure for any explorer who wishes to take the beaten track. Locals make great guides as they have unbelievable navigation skills from wondering through these regions. The forests are the owners of this land and they are far from pristine. If you are willing to take on the adventure you could maybe see a few of the 8 endemic birds that Sula has to offer.

The timber is used to make ships and the inhabitants collect resin called Damar from the forests. There is a lower grade coal that is found locally and used as well. The locals weave sarongs and the most beautiful mats and chairs by hand. A peaceful co-existence with their surroundings is what perfectly describes the way these people live. They are also cultivators of tobacco, rice, sugarcane and maize.

It is truly phenomenal to see the rich amount of resources that can be cultivated within such a small region of islands. There is a deep respect for nature that still exists which the locals never abuse.

Getting lost in the wild jungles

If you are an extremist and never shy from adventure then this would be a place to see in your lifetime. These islands offer you more than enough lush forest and mountains to keep you entertained and challenged. The Sula Islands consist of several small islands and three main islands, Taliabu, Sanana and Mangole. These stretch over 2000 miles with the highest mountain rising 4000ft.

One of the main attractions to these forests is the birdlife. The fascination of the similarities between those of the Bura and Sula islands suggests there may have been a landing bridge there in the past. You can even see some of the world’s most exceptional parrots and over seven new species of birds each year. An ornithologist’s paradise and a truly naturalistic experience for any nature lover with a heart for adventure.

The people and their daily lives

The Sula people are extremely hard working and humble people whom are believed to have a Malayo-Polynesian ancestry. You will find that most people practise traditional religions however there is a large increase in the number of followers of the Muslim faith. They mix Islam customs with traditions and often have prayers at places they consider sacred.

Sanana is the main port and hub for all agriculture in the North. There are many stories told of the haunts of pirates that once lived there. The inhabitants make their living and spend their days working in one of their many vast agricultural industries. The export of copra which is used to make coconut oil is there largest and fastest growing industry. There are so many different choices of environment in which the locals wish to work be it hunting, gathering sago or fishing salt water fish.

There is a sense of peace and calm in this place despite its every growing and developing agricultural industry. The locals respect their environment without losing out on the benefits of co-existing with it. A group of islands can really have so much to offer in so many ways.

Video Sula Islands