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Lombok Island


Lombok is most popular destination in Nusa Tenggara, with the fabled Gili Islands drawings visitor for action both in and out of the water, mighty Gunung Rinjani luring trekkers to conquer its peak, and the big breaks of the south a magnet for the surfer. Lombok has both the lushness of Bali and starkness of outback Australia. Some parts drips with water, while pocket while pockets are chronically dry and droughts can last for months, causing crop failure and famine.

Recent improvements in agriculture and water management, have made in Lombok less precarious. The indigenous Sasak people make up about 90% of the population. They follow the Islamic religion, but have a culture and language unique to Lombok. There is also a significant minority who have a Balinese culture, language and religion – a legacy of the time when Bali controlled Lombok.


No much known about Lombok before the 17th century, at which time is was split into numerous, frequently squabbling petty states, each being presided over by a Sasak “Prince” – a disunity which the neighbouring Balinese exploited.

In the early 17th century, Balinese took control of western Lombok, while the Makasarese invaded eastern Lombok from their colonies in Sumbawa, giving the Sasaks the squeeze. By 1750 the whole island was in Balinese hands, but squabbles over royal succession saw Balinese infighting and Lombok split into four Kingdoms; it was not until 1838 that the Mataram kingdom subdued is rivals.

In western Lombok, relations between the Balinese and the Sasak were relatively harmonious, with intermarriage common. Things where very different in eastern lombok, where the Balinese maintained control from garrisoned forts. Although the traditional Sasak village government remain intact, the village chip become little more than a tax collector for the Balinese. Villagers were reduced to ‘serfs’ and the aristocracy had its power and land-holdings island.

Peasant rebellions were all to common. During one uprising in 1891, Sasak chiefs sent envoys to the Dutch in Bali, inviting the Dutch to rule lombok. On becoming governor general of the Dutch East idies in 1892, Van Der Wijck made a treaty with the rebels in eastern lombok in Juni 1894. He sent a large Army to Lombok and the Balinese rajah capitulated to Dutch demands, but the younger Princes overruled him, attacking and routing the Dutch.

It was a short-lived victory. The Dutch counter attack began. Mataram was overrun and the rajah surrendered. By maintaining of the support of the surviving Balinese and the Sasak aristocracy, the Dutch were able to control more than 500,000 people, using a security force of no more than 250. Despite the privation of the period, the Dutch are well remembered in Lombok as liberators from Balinese domination.

Event after Indonesia attained its independence from the Dutch, Lombok continued to be dominated by its Balinese and Sasak aristocracy. In 1958 Lombok become part of the new province of Nusa Tenggara Barat (west), and mataram become its administrative capital. Following the attempted in Jakarta in 1965, Lombok experience mass killings of communists and ethnic Chinese.


Lombok is a small island, just 80km from east to west and about same distance from north to south. Gunung Rinjani (Mt. Rinjani) dominated the northern part of the island, and streams of the volcano’s southern flank water the rich plains of central Lombok. The far south and east is drier, with scrubby, barren hills. The majority of the population lives in the central plains and in the wetter, more fertile, western coastal areas.


The rice ground in Lombok is noted for excellent quality, but due to the drier climate, the productivity is not as height as in Java or Bali. There are also small and large plantations of coconut palms, coffee, kapok an cotton, new crop such as cloves, vanilla, pineapple and pepper have been introduced, but tobacco is probably the biggest cash crop.

Tourism development only started about 1980, when Lombok island become ‘Indonesia’s best-keep secret’. After lesson about the affects of unrestrained in the tourist centre in Bali have been learn and put into practice in Lombok, but tourism still has a dramatic effect on the local environment and community. Large starches of coastline were commandeered for luxury resort that were never built and there is sporadic cultural conflict between conservative Islamic and liberal western values. Tourism promised much for Lombok’s economy, but with the ongoing instability around the archipelago, it has never realist its full potential.

Population & People

The latest census figures show Lombok has a population of 2.4 million. Almost 90% of the people are Sasak, about 10% are Balinese, and there are minority populations of Chinise, Javanese and Arabs.

Sasaks Physically and culturally, the Sasaks have much in common with Javanese, the Balinese and the Sumbawans. Basically hill people, the Sasaks are now spread over contral and eastern Lombok, and are generally much poorer than the Balinese minority. Most Sasaks are nominally Moslems, but many retain elements of the ancient animist beliefs.

Chinese Most of Lombok’s Chinese population lives in Ampenan or Cakranegara. The Chinese first come to Lombok with the Dutch, as a cheap labour force. When the Dutch ousted in 1949, the Chinese stayed and expanded their business interests. In the aftermath of the 1965 purge, many of Lombok’s Chinese were murdered and masse, along with the thousands that were killed throughout the century. Racism and economic jealousy resurfaced in early 1998 and January 2000 when the Chinese bore the brunt of protests and riot in Mataram.


Lombok has an indigenous music style and the number of traditional dance, but they are mainly performed in the context of seasonal or life-cycle ceremonies, and have not been developed as tourist attractions.

Dance The popular Cupak Gurantang tells the story of Panji, a romantic hero. The dance probably originated in Java in the 15th century. The Kayak Sando, another version of the Panji story, in which the dancers wear masks, is found only in eastern and central Lombok.

The Gandrung is about love and courtship, a social dance, usually performed by the young men and women of village in Narmada, Lenek, Praya and all around Lombok. The Oncer is a war dance performed vigorously by men and young boys in central and eastern Lombok. The Rudat, with combination of Islamic and Sasak influences, is performed by men in pairs, backed by singers, tambourines and cylindrical drums called Jidur.

Presean Is one of Fighting Dances in Lombok. Presean is one of the most popular arts by visitors because it displays the art of fighting using a cane and the protective named Ende.

Music The Tandak Gerok is an eastern Lombok performance which combines dance, the-arte and singing to music played on bamboo flutes and on the bowed lute called a Rebab. A unique feature of the Tandak Gerok is that the vocalists imitate the sound of the gamelan instruments. It’s usually performed after her-vesting or order hard physical labour, but is also staged at traditional ceremonies.

The Genggong involves seven musicians using a simple of instruments, including a bamboo flute, a rebab and knockers, they ac-company their music with dances movements and stylized hand gestures.

Traditional Culture

Adat (traditional law) is still fundamental on the way of Lombok today, particularly costumes relating to birth, circumcision, court-ship and marriage.

Sasak show a fascination with heroic trials of strength, physical prowess and one-on-one contests. Peresean, sometimes misleadingly called Sasak boxing, is fight two man using long rattan staves and small rectangular shields. Lanca, originally from Sumbawa, is another trial of strength, this time between men who use knees to strike each other.


Islam and Balinese Hinduism are the two main religions in Lombok, but there are also Wektu Telu adherents and small numbers of Christians and Buddhists.

Wektu Telu Believed to have originated in the northern village in Bayan, Wektu Telu is indigenous religion unique to Lombok. The number of adherents is officially quite small (less than 30.000), although this maybe understated, as it is not ‘officially rec-ognised’ religion.

In the Sasak language, wektu means ‘result’ and telu means ‘tree’. The name probably donates the complex mixture of Hindu, Islamic and animist influences that make up this religion, and the concept of the trinity is embodied in many Wektu Telu beliefs, such as the sun, the moon and the stars (representing heaven, earth and water) and the head, body and limbs (representing creativity, sensitivity and control).


Trekking Mt. Rinjani (3726m) and its surroundings are superb for trekking. Other shorter hikes include the villages of central Lombok, waterfalls around Tetebatu, villages around Mataram, and the remote coastline east and west of Kuta.

Diving & Snorkeling The marine life of the Gili islands is great for Snorkeling and Diving. It is the most popular place in Indonesia to get certified. There is up and coming diving in southern Lombok, although for experience divers only. Several professional dive centres are located on the Gili and in Senggigi.

Surfing The southern and eastern coast get the same swells that generated the big breaks on Bali’s Bukit Peninsula. The most accessible surfing beach is Kuta, other south-coast place accessible from Kuta include Selong Blanak, Ekas, Mawi, Seger, Gerupuk and Bangko-Bangko (desert point)