East Nusa Tenggara, West Timor. A dry river on the south coast of Timor. Rain only falls here in the wet season, December to March. This photo is taken in May (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Timor is the easternmost and clearly the largest island in the Nusa Tenggara archipelago (see also East Timor). The island is 450 km long and 105 km wide. Area 30.820 sq. km, with a population of around 1.3 million on West Timor and about 850.000 on East Timor. The island has several mountain chains, the highest mountains can be found on the eastern part. Gunung Ramelau, also called Tata Mailau, on East Timor is the highest peak (2.950m).
The soil is quite poor, like in the rest of eastern Nusa Tenggara. Still most of the population are occupied with farming of some kind, mainly growing rice, corn, coffee and fruit. The dry season lasts from March to December.
Maluku, Central Maluku, Buru. Buru is mainly high mountains and large forests. This is the east coast of Buru. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Pulau Buru is one of the largest islands in Maluku, it is part of central Maluku and is administered from Ambon just east of the island. Buru consists mainly of mountains covered with forest, the highest peak is Gunung Tomahu, 2.428 meter above sea level. Land area about 3.670 sq. km., it is 145 km long and 80 km wide. Along the coast there is a flat plateau, where most of the about 100.000 inhabitants live.
The most important city is Namlea at the north coast, which has an airport and a good harbor. Important products from Buru come from trees like ebony, teak, sago palms and coconut palms. The Dutch occupied the island in 1683, and it became a part of Indonesia in 1950. After the so-called communist coup in 1965 the Indonesian government used Buru as a detention camp. More than 10.000 people, mainly persons from Java who were accused of being communists, were imprisoned here. Most of them were released in 1980.
West Nusa Tenggara, Sumbawa. The rock. Characteristic rock formations on the south coast of Sumbawa (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Sumbawa is located east of Lombok, and is larger than Bali and Lombok together. Area 15.448 sq. km, population about 800.000, of which the majority are occupied with agriculture and fishing. The people here are, like on Lombok, mainly Muslims. Christian missionaries did not even bother to come here. Some old animistic traditions are still alive. The soil is fertile, and the most important products are rice, maize, beans, timber, cattle and minerals.
There is now a large mining industry on Sumbawa. Traditionally Sumbawa has been divided between two main groups of people, each with their own language; Sumbawanese in the west and Bimanese in the east. The western population are related to the Sasak people on Lombok, while in the east there is a clear relation to Flores.
Pulau Sawu, East Nusa Tenggara. A village with traditional houses built by timber and leafs from palm trees. A group of curiously waving people can be seen in the lower center of the image. This is from southern Sawu (from helicopter) (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Sawu (also known as Sabu) is a small island, approx. 461 sq. km, located southwest of Timor and southeast of Sumba. Population about 60.000. Sawu is isolated from other islands by a deep ocean. This island is like Sumba less influenced by modern lifestyle, and is known for a culture where old traditions like offerings, dance and other rituals can still be seen. Their old animistic beliefs are known as “jingitui”, and survived the first Portuguese missionaries who came here before year 1600 AD, later followed by Dutch missionaries.
East Nusa Tenggara, Pulau Dana. The uninhabited Dana Island (also called Ndana), just south of Roti, with an area of 14 km2 (5 sq mi), is the southernmost island of Indonesia. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Just south west of Timor, about three hours by boat from Kupang, is the small island of Roti, size 1.214 sq. km. Like on Sawu much of the life here depends on the “lontar” palm tree, used for everything from nutrient to building material. The population are mainly occupied by fishing, some agriculture and weaving of “ikat”. Traditionally Roti was divided in as much as 18 districts, but after a bloody campaign the Dutch in 1681 put their own allied as rulers of the island. Roti became a source for slaves and other resources to the Dutch base in Kupang.
The Rotinese began the convertion to Christianity in the 18th century and with aid from the Dutch they built a good education system. From having a status as slaves they became a sort of elite in this region, but their openness for outside influence also led to some loss of traditional culture compared to islands like Sawu. Still it is possible to see traditional festivals in some areas, and the island is famous for it’s unique music and dance. The music is played on a 20-string instrument called “Sasando”, related to the guitar.
Nusa Tenggara, South Lombok. The southern coast of Lombok is not easily accessible with its high cliffs and lack of roads. This is south on the soutwestern peninsula (from helicopter). (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
South Lombok is the least populated and maybe the least accessible part of the island, except for the Kuta area which is more developed. The roads are often in a bad condition, especially in the wet season. There is not much public transportation here, it is best to have your own car with or without a driver. But if you like a challenge the southern coast can offer some of the best and whitest beaches on Lombok, located between high cliffs and mountains.