Nusa Tenggara is , in many ways different from
the rest of Indonesia. It is geographically, ethnically
and culturally a border area where the transition
from Asia to Australia and Micronesia takes places.
The islands of East
NusaTenggara are formed by the protruding peaks
of a mountain chain which begins in northern Sumatra,
stretching across Java toward the east. But unlike
Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan, which are separated
from the Asian mainland by shallow seas, the islands
of East Nusa Tenggara have apparently always been
separated from the Asian landmass by deep sea-beds.
The arid landscape of eastern and southeastern
Nusa Tenggara is the result of hot and dry winds
coming from the Australian continent. In many
coastal areas not a drop of rain falls during
most of the year. The rainfall varies between
50 mm and 200 mm a year.
Temperatures vary from hot in coastal areas (30
- 35 degree C) to very cool in mountainous areas
(about 15 - 17 degree C). The province of East
Nusa Tenggara comprises 566 islands. The three
main islands are Flores, Sumba, and Timor.
Flores, a long island
located between Sumbawa and Timor, is strewn with
volcanoes in a mountain chain dividing it into
several regions with distinctive languages and
traditions, scenic beauty, good beaches, and natural
wonders. The name is Portuguese for "flower",
as the Portuguese were the first Europeans to
colonize East Nusa Tenggara.
Occupying a unique
position at the junction of the Australian and
Asian submarine ridges, between the two distinct
fauna regions marked by the Wallace Line, here
is one of the world's most dynamic marine environments
with nearly every species of coral and tropical
there are several examples of its Portuguese cultural
heritage like the Easter Procession held in Larantuka,
and the royal regalia of the former king in Maumere.
Sumba, formerly known as the Sandalwood island,
is known for its horses and Sumba cloth. The island
is famous for its arts and handicrafts, particularly
the textile "ikat" weaving.
Sumba, however, is
not for everyone. Neither the food nor accommodation
are up to international standards. But if you
are willing to make some sacrifices, you can see
an authentic, ancient culture with none of the
layers of Hinduism or Islam mostly found elsewhere
in the country.
The island is roughly
oval in shape. The greatest concentration of those
who worship spirits (ancestral and those of the
land) is found in West Sumba where two-thirds
of the population hold on to their traditional
belief. It is here where incredible rituals take
place, o.a. the "pasola" where hundreds of horsemen
fling spears at each other. (The government allows
the ritual to take place, but the spears must
Although some exist
in East Sumba, it is in West Sumba that one can
find a greater number of huge megalithic tombs
and traditional thatched and peaked huts raised
activities, all with a part paying homage to the
spirits, take place in the months of July through
October. These include the building of "adat"
houses and burials when sometimes hundreds of
pigs, water buffaloes, horses, and dogs are sacrificed.
Other ceremonies include the "pajura" or traditional
boxing, the festivals for the lunar new year in
October and November, and August 17, Independence
Day, horse races and ritual dances.
Timor is the principal
island in terms of population where the capital
of the province, Kupang, is located. Kupang is
now being developed to be the gate-way to Nusa
Tenggara. There are direct flights from/to Darwin-Australia.
Timor is rich in
various cultures, beautiful sceneries, and a wonderful
Made up of dry, rocky land, isolated communities,
rolling cattle land, a variety of styles of architecture,
Timor is basically something that possesses its
own original characteristics.
Unlike some other parts of East Nusa Tenggara,
the roads in Timor are generally good and public
transportation is relatively well developed.
are developing and improving in many ways; fair
accommodations have been provided for, roads are
improving, and tourist spots easier accessible.