The original Minahasans are said to originate from Lumimuut, who rose from the sea and gave birth to Tar. After many years separation, mother and son met again. Not recognizing each other, they get married and their descendants populated the region. Minahasan lands and languages were divided by the god Muntu Untu at Watu Pinabetengan (the dividing stone), a carved rock on the foothills of Mount Soputan.
Because of rice surpluses resulting from Minahasa's volcanic hinterland, Manado became a strategic port for European traders sailing to and from the spice island of Maluku. When Spain established a for in Manado , the reigning Manado Rulers appealed to the Dutch VOC in Ternate for help. The Dutch and their Minahasan allies eventually gained the upper hand in 1655, built their own fortress in 1658, and expelled the last of the Spaniards a few years later.
Today, Manado, once described in guide books as one of Indonesia's cleanest cities, has faced many changes throughout the decades. After a period of neglect at the end of the 90's, a huge building boom has started alongside the so-called " Manado Boulevard ", the city's main road. Large areas have been gained by land reclamation projects along what used to be the city's coastline. New malls, shopping centers, department stores, hotels and restaurants have opened or are still being built. Especially the area around the Mega Mall, just a few hundred meters south of the city's landmark Ritzy Hotel , has become a new center of attraction and popular meeting point. The mall itself - apart from the usual Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken - has some very reasonable shops and at present is one of Manado 's few places where you can get a good cappuccino and other hot and cold coffee drinks.
Other parts of the city are still in a poor state. Garbage collection doesn't always work, road conditions are sometimes poor, and power & tab water supply are often problematic. However, since the present governor of North Sulawesi and the mayors of Manado and Tomohon have taken office improvements are clearly visible everywhere. It seems that for the first time in many years there are responsible people in power who actually care for their people and their country.
The people in North Sulawesi are followers of Christian, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Merchants brought the Islamic Religion through the ports and small seaside villages in Gorontalo and Bolaang Mongondow.
Christianity first started in Manado Tua, an island in the Bay of Manado , and the islands of Sangihe Talaud around 1563 when the Portuguese merchants began spice trading.
Buddhism was introduced by Chinese merchants around 1881. A traditional Buddhist temple was built in the center of Manado to provide a house of worship for the followers of Buddha.
Hinduism came to North Sulawesi in 1963. The transmigrants from Bali brought Hinduism to North Sulawesi and the followers are concentrated near Bolaang Mongondow.