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Sulawesi, formerly known as Celebes is one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia and the world's eleventh-largest island. It is situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands. In Indonesia, only Sumatra, Borneo, and Papua are larger in territory, and only Java and Sumatra have larger Indonesian populations.

Sulawesi has a distinctive shape, dominated by four large narrow peninsulas: the north Semenanjung Minahassa; the East Peninsula; the South Peninsula; and the South-east Peninsula. Three gulfs separate these peninsulas: Gulf of Tomini between northern Minahassa peninsula and East Peninsula; Tolo Gulf between East and Southeast Peninsula; and Bone Gulf between while South and Southeast Peninsula. The Strait of Makassar runs the western side of the island separate the island from Borneo.

According to plate reconstructions, the island is believed to have been formed by the collision of terranes from the Asian Plate (forming the west and southwest), from the Australian Plate (forming the southeast and Banggai), and from island arcs previously in the Pacific (forming the north and east peninsulas). Because of its tectonic origin, several faults scarring the land and resulting the island to be prone to earthquakes.

The contour of the island is sharp contrast from deep seas surrounding the island to mountainous interior forming mountainous backbone along the narrow peninsulas. The central part of Sulawesi is high mountaineous area, but mostly non-volcanic. Active volcanoes are found in the northern Minahassa Peninsula and continuously stretches to the north to Sangihe Islands. The northern peninsula contains active volcanoes such as Mount Lokon, Mount Awu, Soputan, and Karangetang.