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LOMBOK ISLAND INFORMATION


Lombok is regarded as one of the most spectacular of all of Indonesia’s islands. Though visions of idyllic Bali, modern fast paced Jakarta are conjured up in the minds of the people whenever, the name of Indonesia crops up, Indonesia is much more than the relatively well cities and islands as a whole, Indonesia is also about tempting virgin beaches, innocent and naïve villagers, simple life styles and truly exotic cuisine. It is also about Lombok. Relatively unraveled by time and marauding travelers from all over the world, Lombok is slowly but surely revealing herself to the world. The island of Lombok is to the east of her most famous neighbor, Bali. The straight which divides these two islands is very deep with innumerable whirlpools and dancing dolphins. The history of Lombok gives a fascinating insight into how the island evolved over the centuries to become what it is today. Though it is quite a task to delve deep into the ancient history of Lombok because of a paucity of chronicled articles, what is known is that in the ancient times, Lombok had native rulers who ruled over this province and Selaparang (a small kingdom) had some control over the eastern side of the island. It was in the seventh century that the veil over this island started lifting with outside influences. Lombok came under the influence of Balinese and Makassarese of Sulawesi. The Balinese arrived from Karangasem crossing the Lombok Strait in the early part of the seventeenth century and around the same time, the Makassarese invaded the eastern part of the island. 1677 was a landmark year in the history of Lombok, it was in this year that the two intruders managed to subdue the other one. Balinese won as they had the help of the native Sasak aristocracy. Henceforth, it became a Balinese obsession to secure and maintain their control over this island. However with the passage of time, it was found that the Balinese control over Lombok had run into hard times and the beginning of the nineteenth century saw Pagesangan, Pagutan, Mataram and Cakranegara competing for the island.
 

1894 changed the course of Lombok’s destiny. From this year Lombok began her journey as one of the colonies of the Dutch. Balinese army had attacked the Dutch camp in Mayura Palace, Cakranegara. Though the Dutch escaped, they could not escape casualties to artillery and man. Now they were determined to pay back the Balinese and this resulted in their taking total control of Lombok.
 

LOMBOK ISLAND MAP

 


Lombok now started to realize what colonialism meant. There was abject poverty and they were on the verge of starvation on more than one occasion. The Dutch wanted control as well as personal profit. Heavy taxation was another area of concern for the Lombok population along with exportation of food materials. The last straw on the camel’s back was famine which tormented Lombok for nearly half a century.

So continued Lombok’s tryst with destiny. But suddenly in 1945, Lombok had a new sun rising . Soekarno arrogated that Indonesia was independent and Lombok was also a part of this new order of things. But in 1965, after a difficult two decades, mass killings of Communist sympathizers and ethnic Chinese created a scar for ages to come on Lombok. It was President Suharto who can be credited with much of the growth and stability of this island, but here it has to be mentioned that in comparison to Bali and Java’s glitz and glamour, Lombok comes a poor second. Now this island is slowly gaining its place under the sun as a distinguished alternative to Bali in the tourism world.

Pre 20th Century
The earliest recorded society on Lombok was the relatively small kingdom of the Sasak. The Sasak people were agriculturalists and animists who practiced ancestor and spirit worship. The original Sasak are believed to have come overland from northwestern India or Myanmar (Burma) in waves of migration that predated most Indonesian ethnic groups. Only a few archaeological relics remain from the old animist kingdoms, but animism has left its mark on the culture, although the majority of Sasak people today are Muslim. Not much is known about Lombok before the 17th century, at which time it was split into numerous, frequently squabbling states, each presided over by a Sasak 'prince' - a disunity exploited by the neighboring Balinese. Balinese princes ruled Lombok from the mid-18th century until the 1890s, when the Dutch sided with the Sasaks and defeated the Balinese in bloody battles. Under Dutch rule, the eastern islands of Indonesia were grouped together as the Lesser Sunda Islands, administered from Singaraja, Bali. Taxes resulted in the impoverishment of the majority of peasants and the creation of a new stratum of Chinese middlemen.


When Soekarno proclaimed Indonesian independence on 17 August 1945, the Lesser Sunda Islands were formed into the single province of Nusa Tenggara, which means 'Islands of the Southeast'. This proved far too unwieldy to govern and in 1958 the province was divided into three separate regions - Bali, Nusa Tenggara Barat (West Nusa Tenggara) and Nusa Tenggara Timur (East Nusa Tenggara). In the wake of the attempted coup and Soekarno's downfall in 1965, Lombok experienced mass killings of communists, sympathizers and ethnic Chinese, as did Bali and other parts of Indonesia. Under President Soeharto's 'New Order', Lombok enjoyed stability and some growth, until crop failures led to famine in 1966 and to severe food shortages in 1973. Many moved away from Lombok under the transmigrasi (transmigration) programmed. Tourist development started around 1980, when Lombok attracted attention as an 'unspoilt' alternative to Bali. While low budget bungalows proliferated at places like the Gili islands and Lombok's south coast, big businesses from outside Lombok became interested and speculation on beachfront land became epidemic. Lombok's tourism planning was dominated by the national government in Jakarta, and many traditional landholders were displaced as outside business interests moved in.

The political turmoil, economic crisis and civil unrest that beset Indonesia in the late 1990s did not spare Lombok. Students in Mataram and Praya staged protests over the general economic situation as early as 1997, and the local economy was hit hard by the general downturn in Indonesian tourism.

Recent The riots of 17 January 2000 were a surprise and a shock to most local people. A public community meeting in Mataram was roused to burn churches and ransack Christians' houses and businesses. Evidence suggests that this apparently spontaneous incident was actually well planned by groups from outside Lombok. Anti-Christian propaganda had been circulated before the meeting, there were planted provocateurs in the crowd and the rioters were directed to a well-identified series of targets. A high proportion of Lombok's Christians are ethnic Chinese, and though the violence was consistently described as anti-Christian, many observers consider that an anti-Chinese element was at least a contributory factor. The effect on the tourist industry was immediate. The incident caused grave damage to Lombok's reputation and economy, and despite efforts to promote the island as a safe destination, the bombings of 2002 and 2005 in neighboring Bali only compounded the negative perceptions. Senggigi, the island's main resort, has suffered particularly badly, as tour operators have cancelled bookings; however, the Gili islands have remained popular with independent travelers.

General Information
Lombok is about three-quarters the size of Bali and is estimated to have, surprisingly, approximately 2.5 million inhabitants making it slightly more densely populated than Bali. As mentioned Lombok is only 70 kilometers from Bali and is separated by the ecologically significant Wallace Line (the Wallace Line is the demarcation line separating Equatorial Asia from Marsupial Australia that marks vast and immediately noticeable changes in the flora and fauna from Bali).

As well, Lombok lies only 8° (375km) south of the equator. As such the weather is tropical. Days are almost universally 12 hours long with sunrise is approximately 6:20 a.m.; sunset at 6:30 p.m. depending on the time of year. The daytime temperature averages between 27° C to 32° C ( 80° F to 90° F) along the western coastal area (the main tourist venue). Average temperature inland is 29° C to 34° C. And if you plan to trek Mt. Rinjani bring a sweater - at 3,726 meters it is Indonesia's second tallest mountain and gets surprisingly cold up there.

Lombok's tropical monsoon climate has two distinct seasons; dry (May to September) and wet (October to March). Monsoon refers to the wind, not the rain. However even in the wet monsoon the rain tends to be short lived and localized. Weather wise May, June are July are generally considered the best months.

The People of Lombok
Approximately 90% of the population is Sasak with the majority of the remaining 10% claiming Balinese lineage. The Sasaks are for the most part Moslem however there is still evidence of Hindu and Wetu Telu (an animistic faith) that has incorporated some aspects of Islam into its practice. The Sasak people are much more conservative by culture and not as open as their more famous Balinese neighbors and fare poorly in comparison. This may be due in part to the lack of interaction with visitors but for whatever reason pay no mind the more you learn about Lombok, the more you'll appreciate the people and the friendlier they seem to become.
 

 

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