Celebes (Span. pron. The-lay'bez; Eng. usu. Sel-e-bez), practically a Dutch island, is separated from Borneo by the Strait of Macassar, and 800 miles long by 200 broad. It consists of a central nucleus whence radiate four long mountainous limbs, respectively E., NE., SE., and S., enclosing the three gulfs of Gorontalo, running in nearly 200 miles, Tolo 150 miles, and Boni about 200 miles. The gulfs, as also the north and west coasts, are studded with islands, rocks and shoals, and larger outlying islands. The east end of the north-eastern peninsula is subject to earthquakes, and contains 11 volcanoes, some of them active, such as Mount Sapoetan (5938 feet), and, farther east, Mount Klabat (6559 feet), which has now, however, long been quiescent, besides numerous hot springs and sulphur lakes. The mountains of the south peninsula seldom rise above 2000 feet. In the extreme south, however, are Maros (4225 feet) and Bonthain (9994 feet). Between the hills and coast of the south peninsula are extensive grassy plains, affording pasture for large herds of cattle and horses. Celebes is rich in lakes, among them, Passo, in the central nucleus, 35 by 25 miles, and Tondano, nearly 2000 feet above the sea. Thanks to the elevation of the land and its sea exposure, Celebes, no part of which is more than 50 miles from the sea, enjoys a comparatively cool and healthy climate. The vegetation includes rice, maize, coffee, sugar, tobacco, indigo, areca, betel, pepper, clove and nutmeg growing wild; the tree yielding macassar oil, oak, teak, cedar, ebony, sandalwood, bamboos; also the upas. Many animals, birds, and insects are wholly peculiar to Celebes. Gold is obtained from surface washings; iron, salt, tin, and copper are likewise worked.
In 1900 the pop. was calculated at 1,878,500. The Bugis and Mangkassars of the south peninsula, tall, shapely, and comparatively fair, are the dominant native race, much disposed to trading and seafaring. The ' Alfuros,' a collective name for the other native tribes, are at a very low grade of culture. Celebes was first visited in 1525 by a Portuguese expedition from the Moluccas. In 1607 the Dutch began to trade with Celebes, and now claim the whole island, which they have divided into the residences of Macassar and Menado, a third division round the north and west of the Gulf of Tolo being included in the residence of the Ternate. The chief town is Macassar (pop. 20,000), with a sea-frontage of nearly 2 1/2 miles. See Lahure, Celebes (Paris, 1879); Hickson, The Naturalist in North Celebes (1889).