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Makasar History, Indonesia

Present-day Makasar city has a pretty long history, dating back to the fourteenth century. In those days, of course, it was nothing like an integrated, powerful dominion; it was rather divided into a number of small kingdoms. Things started changing in the sixteenth century when these minor kingdoms united to form two significant principalities – Gowa and Tallo. The Portuguese traders started arriving around the same time, signaling the region’s growing importance as an independent trading center.

Makasar History– Spread Of Islam

The arrival of Islam in 1605 is undoubtedly the most important event in the history of Makasar. Legends have it that the Lord of Tallo had a vision, rather a dream, for three consecutive days; in this dream he saw a light illuminating Tallo and its entire neighborhood. On the third night of the dream, a sailboat with one passenger on board anchored in the port-area. Locals who witnessed this incident were rendered speechless on seeing light emanating from the body of the boat-rider. News spread fast and the next morning the Lord of Tallo set for the beach in order to meet the mystifying stranger. On his way to the beach, Lord of Tallo is said to have had a vision of Prophet Mohammed. The auspicious incident changed the course of history of Makasar – it not only inspired the Lord to follow Islam, but influenced the entire populace. Today, Indonesia is the largest Muslim country of the world.

The name Makasar is also believed to be linked to this holy episode – Makasar is said to have been derived from “Akkasaraki Nabiya”, which is an expression for ‘The Prophet has shown his self’ in the local dialect.

Makasar History– The Europeans And Trade

As already said, the Portuguese sailors/traders were among the first Europeans to arrive in Makasar; they were followed by the Dutch people. Soon Makasar became a leading trade port and the first half of the 17th century saw it trading in different products – silk and other textiles, cloves, sandalwood, etc. Unlike the Portuguese, however, the Dutch were not content with just trading; they were also trying to establish their control in the region. In 1660, the city was attacked by a 31-ships strong Dutch fleet. Before this, the Makasarese kings had successfully quashed Dutch attacks, but this time they could not. The Dutch captured the fort of Panakkukang and by 1667, Makasar ceased to be an independent commercial center. It was not before 1848 that the city could become an independent port once again.

Makasar History– Twentieth Century Onwards

The two World Wars have not had much of an impact on Indonesia and hence Makasar, like Bandung and Jakarta, was not immensely affected. In the 1970s, the city was named Ujung Pandang only to be renamed Makasar in 1999. Today Makasar is a very lively city –important for both its trade and commerce and for its rich culture.

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