Makassar is a port city situated on the island of Sulawesi, facing the Makassar Strait. It is the provincial capital of south Sulawesi, Indonesia, and the largest city on the island.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Makassar was the main gateway of trade in east Indonesia. The kings stringently maintained a policy of free trade, thereby enabling any visitor to do business in the city. This also thwarted the attempts of the Dutch to establish their monopoly on the city.
Makassar emerged as one of the most important trading centers of the area. With the increase of Dutch influence over the region, the importance of Makassar declined, and ultimately it was taken over in 1667. Later, in 1848 it became a free port. The people of Makassar have their own language and script.
Makassarese has its own distinctive set of characters called Lontara, which consists of mainly straight oblique lines and dots. Currently, Makassar is the primary port of southern Sulawesi. It has regular domestic and international shipping connections and still uses some of the last of the famed phinisi schooners, the traditional sailing ships that plied Indonesia's inter-island trade routes.
Makassarese ebony has a warm black hue with red streaks, and is a highly prized wood. Makassar also has a major fishing industry with fishing of the Trepang, or sea cucumber, being its mainstay. Centuries ago, fishing boats from Makassar regularly visited the coasts of northern Australia to fish for Trepang, and traits of the Makassarese can be found in the people of northern Australia.
Makassar has several famous traditional foods. Pisang Epe Coto Makassar and Konro rib dish are popular traditional foods in Makassar usually served with Burasa, a gelatinous rice with coconut milk and sautéed chopped coconut.