Sulawesi

Drake proceeded to travel up the western coast of South America, attacking Spanish ports as he went.

British fleetIn the hopes of finding his way back to the Atlantic Ocean, and back to England, Francis Drake traveled northwards up the western coast of South America, sailing further than any European before him. However, he found he was unable to find his way back to the Atlantic in this way, so he began travelling southwards once more, before beginning his journey westwards across the Pacific Ocean in July 1579. On these travels, Drake encountered various new areas, including Java, the Cape of Good Hope, Celebes and the Moluccas. But where exactly is Celebes?

Celebes, which is now known as Sulawesi, is an island in Indonesia. Located between the Maluku Islands and Borneo, it is the eleventh-largest island on earth and one of the four Greater Sunda Islands. Within Indonesia, it is defeated in size only by Borneo, Papua and Sumatra, and in population only by Sumatra and Java.

The island is one of a very unique shape, featuring four large peninsulas: Minahasa in the north, as well as the East Peninsula, the South-east Peninsula and the South Peninsula. These peninsulas are separated by three gulfs – the Gulf of Tomini, the Bone Gulf and the Tolo Gulf. Running along the western side of the island is the Strait of Makassar, separating the island from the nearby Borneo.

The first Europeans to visit this island believed it was an archipelago on account of its unusual shape. These were Portuguese sailors – the Simão de Abreu in 1523 and the Gomes de Sequeira in 1525. The sailors were sent here from the Moluccas in the hopes of discovering gold, which the islands were thought to produce. Land claimed by the Portuguese was then captured by the Dutch, who were quickly followed by the English, establishing their own factory in Makassar.

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