The Wallace Line, named after 19th century naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, marks a point of transition between the flora and fauna of western and Eastern Indonesia and acts as the Western boundary of West Nusa Tenggara, which includes the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa. Lombok is noticeably different than its close neighbor, Bali. The northern part of the island is mountainous and lush with tall trees and shrubs. The South, on the other hand is arid and covered by savanna. Large Asian mammals are absent and replaced instead by marsupials, lizards, cockatoos and parrots. The difference becomes more pronounced as one moves further east, where dry seasons are more prolonged and corn and sago are the staple food, instead of rice. At around the time Islam first came to these islands in the 16th century, four Hindu Kingdoms co - existed in apparent peace in what is now West Nusa Tenggara. Lombok experienced strong Balinese influences, but has retained a unique identity. The indigenous people of Lombok, the Sasaks, are predominantly Moslem and have a strong, distinguished tradition, as do the people of neighboring Sumbawa. Soft, white sand, virgin beaches are typical in Lombok, where the motto is : "You can see Bali from Lombok, but not Lombok from Bali". Famous for its ikat hand-woven textiles, the island has exceptional charm and is relatively undiscovered, except for the town of Senggigi, which is becoming a major resort area. Regular shuttle flights from Bali and Surabaya as well as ferries, provide excellent transportation links between the islands of the province as well as the rest of the country.
East Nusa Tenggara
The islands of east Nusa Tenggara have been shaped by the power and force of an enormous chain of volcanoes which begins in the north of Sumatra and stretches east across Java, the legendary 'Ring of Fire'. The province consist of over 550 islands, but is dominated by three main islands of Flores, Sumba, and Timor. Occupying a unique position at the junction of Australian and Asian submarine ridges marked by the Wallace line, it is one of the most dynamic and exotic marine environments in the world. The arid landscape of eastern and southern Nusa Tenggara is the result of hot, dry winds blasting in from the Australian continent. In fact, in many coastal areas not a drop of rain falls during most of the year. Flores is a Portuguese name which means "flower", and ideally describes the beauty to be found here. This long island between Sumbawa and Timor is crowded with volcanoes and mountains, dividing it into several regions with distinct languages and traditions. Predominantly Catholic and heavily influenced by the Portuguese, there are many examples of a strong European cultural heritage, like the Easter procession held in Larantuka, and the royal regalia of the former king in Maumere. Formerly known as the Sandal wood Island, Sumba is now famous for its horses and a superb style of ikat cloth. Spirits, both ancestral and natural, are worshipped. West Sumba is famous for its enormous megalithic tombs and traditional thatched and peaked huts raised on stilts. Incredible rituals are a way of life here, such as the "Pasola". Where hundreds of horsemen fling spears at each other in a annual traditional ceremonies, all paying homage to the spirit, take place from July to October, including the building of "adat" or traditional houses. Burial ceremonies require the sacrifice of hundreds of pigs, water buffaloes, horses, and dogs. Other ceremonies include "Pajura" or traditional boxing, festivals for the Lunar New Year in October and November, horse races and ritual dances. Timor is the largest island in the province in terms of population and it is here that the provincial capital of Kupang is located. Timor is rich in culture, beautiful scenery, and magnificent wildlife. The isolated communities have developed a variety of architectural styles. Unlike other parts of East Nusa Tenggara, the roads in Timor are generally good and public transportation is relatively well developed. Kupang is the gateway to Nusa Tenggara with regular, direct flights to and from Darwin in Australia as well as with the rest of the archipelago.