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Teluk Palu, Sulawesi Tengah.jpg
Masjid APUNG Palu.jpg
Clockwise from the top:
Palu Bay, Floating Mosque of Palu, Souraja House
Lambang Kota Palu.png
Maliu Ntuvu
Locator Kota Palu.svg
Location within Central Sulawesi
Sulawesi location map plain.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Sulawesi and Indonesia
Indonesia location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Palu (Indonesia)
Coordinates: 0°53′42″S119°51′34″E / 0.89500°S 119.85944°E / -0.89500; 119.85944 Coordinates: 0°53′42″S119°51′34″E / 0.89500°S 119.85944°E / -0.89500; 119.85944
CountryFlag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia
Province Flag of Central Sulawesi.svg  Central Sulawesi
Incorporated27 September 1978
City Status22 July 1994
  Mayor Hadianto Rasyid
  Vice Mayor Reny A. Lamadjido
  Total395.06 km2 (152.53 sq mi)
118 m (387 ft)
 (2020 Census)
  Density940/km2 (2,400/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+8 (Indonesia Central Time)
Area code (+62) 451
HDI Increase2.svg 0.815 (Very high)

Palu is a chartered city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, at the mouth of the Palu River. It is the capital of the province of Central Sulawesi, situated on a long, narrow bay. Because of its sheltered position between mountain ridges, the climate is unusually dry. At the 2010 census Palu had a population of 336,532 [2] On 28 September 2018, the city suffered severe damage due to a series of earthquakes followed by a tsunami, resulting in major soil liquefaction and mudflows, which caused many of the surrounding buildings to become submerged. [3] At the 2020 census Palu had a population of 373,218, [4] not including those living in neighbouring regencies.



The name of Palu comes from the word Topalu'e (the elevated land) because this area was meant to be the ocean. There was an earthquake and plate shift (palu koro) so that the area that was once the sea was lifted and formed the land that is now Palu.

Another source mentions that the name Palu comes from the Kaili word Volo, a bamboo that grows from the Tawaeli area to the Sigi region. Bamboo is very closely connected to the Kaili tribe, due to their dependence on bamboo for their daily needs, whether as foodstuffs (bamboo shoot), building materials (walls, mats, etc.), daily equipment, games (tilako), as well as musical instruments (lalove)[ citation needed ].


The Dutch controleur's residence in the 1930s COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Controleurswoning Paloe TMnr 60033358.jpg
The Dutch controleur's residence in the 1930s

Palu originated from a unity of four villages; namely Besusu, Tanggabanggo (Siranindi, now Kamonji), Panggovia (now Lere) and Boyantongo (now Kelurahan Baru). They formed a customary council called Patanggota. One of their assignments was to elect the king and his assistants for royal activities. The kingdom, which would be known as the Palu Kingdom, eventually became one of the well-known and very powerful kingdom.

The Dutch first visited Palu during the reign of King Maili (Mangge Risa) to get protection from Manado in 1868. In 1888, the Dutch governor of Celebes together with armies and several ships arrived Palu kingdom, they fought in Kayumalue. After the Kayumalue war, King Maili was killed by the Dutch and his body was brought to Palu. He was succeeded by King Jodjokodi, on 1 May 1888 he signed a short agreement to the Dutch East Indies colonial authority.

The town was part of the Dutch Empire until Indonesia won independence in 1945–49. The Dutch controleur's house survives as a testament of that era.

CIA air raids

In April 1958 during the Permesta rebellion in North Sulawesi, the USA supported and supplied the rebels. Pilots from a CIA Taiwan-based front organization, "Civil Air Transport," flew CIA B-26 Invader aircraft, repeatedly bombed and machine-gunned targets in and around Palu; destroying vehicles, buildings, a bridge and a ship. [5]

2005 earthquake

On 24 January 2005 at 04:10 (UTC+8), an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 occurred in the city. According to the local meteorological office, the epicenter of the earthquake was around 1.249° S, 119.922° E, some 16 km (10 mi) southeast of Palu at the depth of 30 km (19 mi) of Bora Village's hot spring, Biromaru sub-district, Donggala Regency. Panic ensued as most people sought refuge in the highlands for fear of a repeat disaster like the tsunami as occurred in Aceh. The earthquake killed one person, injured four others, and destroyed 177 buildings. [6] [7]

2005 market bombing

On 31 December 2005 at about 07:35 (UTC +8) a bomb blast, [8] described as a nail bomb or similar, [9] detonated around 07:00 in a butcher's market mostly frequented by Christian Minahasa shopping for New Year's Eve celebrations, killing eight people and wounding another 53. [9] [10] [11]

2018 tsunami

On 28 September 2018, Palu was hit by a 5-meter-high tsunami shortly after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake occurred 80 km north of the city. The earthquake killed 1,705 people, with 1,549 injured and 832 missing in the city. Other cities were also struck by the tsunami. [12] [13] As of 2019, the death toll has reached 4,340 as reported by the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management, over 4 places that were hit by the tsunami. [3]


Palu has a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen Af) although relatively dry due to the strong rain shadow of the surrounding mountains.

Climate data for Palu
Record high °C (°F)38
Average high °C (°F)30.3
Daily mean °C (°F)26.6
Average low °C (°F)22.9
Record low °C (°F)22
Average rainfall mm (inches)101
Average rainy days789910121198797106
Average relative humidity (%)7576.575.57675.576.5777474.5737374.575
Source 1: weatherbase [14]
Source 2: climate-data [15]

Administrative districts

Landscape around Palu in the 1980s COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Berglandschap met rijstvelden en paalwoningen in de omgeving van Palu TMnr 20018497.jpg
Landscape around Palu in the 1980s

At the time of the 2010 Census, the city was divided into four districts (kecamatan), but in 2011 these were re-organised into a new division of eight districts. These are tabulated below with their areas and their population at the 2010 Census [16] and the 2020 Census. [17]

in km2
Census 2010
Census 2020
Palu Barat
(West Palu)
Palu Selatan
(South Palu)
Palu Timur
(East Palu)
Palu Utara
(North Palu)

Note: (a) the population at 2010 of this new district is included in the figure for the existing districts from which it was split in 2011.


Palu is served by Mutiara Sis Al-Jufri Airport, which is located outside the city center.


Palu is the site of an Indonesian Navy base, and the planned home of the Indonesian Navy's submarines. [18] A quay wall and environmental shelter covering the submarine berthing area were destroyed in the 2018 Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami. [18]

Sister cities

Notable people

Indonesia Open Paragliding Championship

Indonesia Open Paragliding Championship is one of the world championship series which it was the first Indonesia Open held in the region on 19–25 June 2011. 78 paragliders taking part in the championship from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea and Switzerland competed at Wayu village (the Matantimali hills, 800 masl) about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Palu. [19]

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