The Kabura Burana waterfall, Lawela, and the Wakatobi Island resort

Buton is an island located off the southeast coast of mainland Sulawesi. The island is aligned lengthwise north-south, being approximately 150 kilometers long and 50 kilometers wide. It is at longitude 123 degrees east and 5 degrees south. Maps are available to provide detailed location.

The major city of Buton is Baubau, sometimes spelt Bau-Bau or given the abbreviation Baus. Prior to 1999, Baubau had a population of 300,000 persons. This number has risen considerably and no reliable population figure currently exists (June 2000). It is estimated there are 500,000 people living in Baubau at the present time.

Baubau is a port city and is favored with a large sheltered harbour equipped with a modern concrete pier for ocean-going vessels, a separate pier for oil tankers, a well equipped ferry harbour for the ferries which ply between Buton and Muna and several other piers primarily used by coastal trading vessels and fishing boats. There is no industry in Baubau, so the commercial viability of the city depends upon it's maritime activities and the usual infrastructure associated with a regional capital city. The only economic contributors to Butonese economy are fishing, copra, cashews and asphalt (mined on the eastern side of the island).

Facilities in Baubau for travelers include several well equipped hotels. There are many restaurants and cafes in the waterfront area of the city including several which provide karaoke and other entertainment. Baubau has two very complete supermarkets, a large central market, another market for fish and other fresh foodstuffs, a new shopping mall and streets full of other shops catering for the supply demands of the city.

Historically, Baubau was the seat of the Sultanate of Buton. There are two large fortresses on the hilltops near Baubau, one of which has been restored to something of it's prior glory. The Keraton (fortress of the Sultan) is massively constructed, covering an area almost two kilometers in length and one kilometer wide. The Butonese descend from the Makassars of Ujung Pandang and the Bugis of South Sulawesi, giving them the reputation of being entrepreneurial and wide-ranging in their travels. This explains why many Butonese have settled in distant areas of Indonesia, including the many thousands who had settled in Ambon and the Maluku islands.

Some interesting links for more information on Buton:

  1. Ethnology and language
  2. History
  3. Tourist information
  4. Tukang Besi islands Wakatobi resort
  5. Buton water service
  6. Pelni Shipping Company Schedules
  7. Bethany Christian survey

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