Sula Islands

Sula Islands
Location South East Asia
Archipelago Maluku Islands
Major islands Mangole, Sanana and Taliabu
Area 9,632.92 km2 (3,719.29 sq mi)
Province North Maluku
Largest settlement Sanana
Population 132,070 (2010 Census)
Pop. density 13.71 /km2 (35.51 /sq mi)
Location map of the Sula Islands among the Maluku Islands
Seal of the regency

The Sula Islands (Indonesian: Kepulauan Sula) are a group of islands in North Maluku in Indonesia. Its three main islands are Mangole, Sanana (officially Sula Besi or Xulla Besi) and Taliabu, with smaller islands Lifamatola and Seho. Until 2013 the whole group was administered as Sula Archipelago Regency (Kabupaten Kepulauan Sula), with its administrative capital at Sanana on the island of the same name; its area is 9,632.92 km2 and population 132,070 (at the 2010 census). However, in 2013 Taliabu Island was separated from Kepulauan Sula Regency and formed into a new Regency.

Pre-Indonesian Independence saw the Sula Islands also known as the Xulla Islands, with Taliabo as Xulla Taliabo, Sanana as Xulla Bessi, and Mangola as Xulla Mangola.[1]


Following the removal of 7 districts to create a separate Taliabu Island Regency (Pulau Taliabu) in 2013, the residual Sula Archipelago Regency was divided into 12 districts (kecamatan), tabulated below with their 2010 Census population.

Name English name Population
Census 2010
Mangole Barat West Mangole 7,084
Mangole Selatan South Mangole 4,665
Mangole Tengah Central Mangole 6,381
Mangole Timur East Mangole 4,301
Mangole Utara North Mangole 10,115
Mangole Utara Timur Northeast Mangole 3,777
Mangole Island (total) 36,323
Sanana 25,183
Sanana Utara North Sanana 5,675
Sula Besi Barat West Sula Besi 4,707
Sula Besi Selatan South Sula Besi 4,298
Sula Besi Tengah Central Sula Besi 5,929
Sula Besi Timur East Sula Besi 3,100
Sula Besi Island (total) 48,892
Sulu Archipelago Regency 85,215
Lede 5,977
Taliabu Barat West Taliabu 9,027
Taliabu Barat Laut Northwest Taliabu 4,079
Taliabu Selatan South Taliabu 8,738
Taliabu Timur East Taliabu 3,542
Taliabu Timur Selatan Southwest Taliabu 5,066
Taliabu Utara North Taliabu 10,880
Taliabu Island Regency 47,309


The Dutch built a fort on Sanana in 1652. Wallace visited the islands during an ornithological expedition in 1862.[2]

The Dutch era Fort De Verwachting in Sanana town as it looked in 1921


According to government data Sula Islands District's food crops include vegetables, groundnuts, cassava, sweet potatoes, durian, mangosteen and mango. As of 2005 the area of agriculturally active land was 24743.56 hectares with production amounting to 33,608.62 tons per year. Taliabu-Sanana District is the main producer of cloves, nutmeg, cocoa, copra and other coconut products. Fishery production is very diverse with and estimated sustainable potential of 40,273.91 tonnes per year of which only 22.8 percent is currently exploited. Forestry is considered a potential industry with the natural forest-based Classification Map TGHK RTRWP suggesting a forest area of 471,951.53 hectares, but much of this is protected or hard to access, due to steep slopes and transportation logistics, and the islands' main plywood company, PT Barito Pacific Timber Group (in Falabisahaya, West Mangole) has closed. Industrial activity is very limited. There is a gold mine in East Mangoli District (at Waitina and Kawata) and coal mines are located in the peninsula of West Sula Besi District, East Taliabu and Sub Sanana (Wai Village Ipa). Reserves of coal are estimated around 10.4 million tonnes.


The following species are native to the Sula Islands:

Introduced species include


  1. Goodall, George (Editor)(1943) Philips' International Atlas London, George Philip and Son map 'East Indies' pp.91-92
  2. Wallace's list of birds spotted in the Sulu Islands, 1862
  1. Tourist guide to the Sula Islands
  2. Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Profile of the Sula Islands
  3. Investment Prospects in Sula (in Indonesian)

Coordinates: 1°52′S 125°22′E / 1.867°S 125.367°E / -1.867; 125.367

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