East 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
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
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 fish
Predominantly Catholic, 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 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 be blunt).
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 on stilts.
Many traditional 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
Tourist facilities are developing and improving in many ways; fair
accommodations have been provided for, roads are improving, and
tourist spots easier accessible.