The total population of North Sulawesi province is 1,989,977 People (1996). The ethnic groups are Bolaang Mongondow, Sangihe Talaud, and Minahasa. The province is also inhabited by immigrant populations, which are divided into the following groups: Chinese, concentrated in towns and engaging in wholesale and trading, Arab communities (primarily in Manado), Javanese, Balinese, Bugis and Makassaresse, including Bajau (Bajo) in small numbers.


The people in North Sulawesi are followers of Christian, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Merchants brought the Islamic Religion through the ports and small seaside villages in Gorontalo and Bolaang Mongondow.

Christianity first started in Manado Tua, an island in the Bay of Manado, and the islands of Sangihe Talaud around 1563 when the Portuguese merchants began spice trading.

Buddhism was introduced by Chinese merchants around 1881. A traditional Buddhist temple was built in the center of Manado to provide a house of worship for the followers of Buddha.

Hinduism came to North Sulawesi in 1963. The transmigrants from Bali brought Hinduism to North Sulawesi and the followers are concentrated near Bolaang Mongondow.


Traditional music

Bamboo Music – Clarinet Minahasan people are fond of music. The popular traditional music is: Kolintang, Bambu and Bia.

Kolintang (Indonesian Xylophone) is similar to a wooden xylophone and is popular nationwide. One version of local folklore states that the name Kolintang came from the sound: TING (high pitch note) and TANG (moderate pitch note), TONG (low pitch note). In the local language, the invitation “Let us do some TING TANG TONG” is: “mangemo kumolintang”, hence the name of the instrument, KOLINTANG

Bamboo Music – BassBamboo Orchestra: There are other traditional Minahasan musical instruments often used to accompany the dance such as Bambu and Bia. A Bamboo Orchestra is typically a large ensemble consisting of a variety of wind, string and rhythm instruments made of bamboo (bamboo melulu), sometimes fabricated from brass (bambu clarinet) or of tin (bamboo seng).

Bia music consisting of a conch shell is less popular but is still employed in some areas of North Sulawesi, usually at holiday celebrations.

Traditional dances

Maengket Dance from North Sulawesi Maengket is a dance drama from Minahasa, North Sulawesi. The dance is often performed on important occasions welcoming prominent visitors, as a prelude to competitions, or during local festivals. Maengket is accompanied by spirited harmonic songs in the form of Minahasan communal work. It is actually a variety of modernized and secularized dances consisting of three parts, Makamberu depicting the harvest time and in some parts of its choreography tell about romantic love poems; Marambak celebrating the building of a new house and passing on traditional values; Mah’laya is usually humorous and is generally full of merriment.

There are several other traditional dances:

Kabasaran which is sometime called “Cakalele Minahasa”, is performed as a welcome dance to greet incoming guests.
Tumatenden is a fairy tale of love depicting the folklore of Tumatenden.
Tari Lenso is a dance derived from Maengket where the dancers use handkerchiefs in the dance routine. It slightly resembles dances from the Vietnamese and Kampuchean cultures, where Toar and Lumimuut, the descendants of the Minahasans came from.

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