Lombok is an island in the West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. It is part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east.
Map of Lombok
West Lombok (Bangsal, Lembar, Mataram, Tanjung, Senggigi.)
The administrative centre, well known beaches and the vast majority of the developed tourism infrastructure on the island and gateway to the famous Gili islands
North Lombok (Mount Rinjani, Senaru)
Mighty Mount Rinjani, waterfalls, glorious scenery and home to the Waktu Telu traditions.
Central and East Lombok (Praya, Labuhan Lombok, Selong, Tetebatu)
Quiet rural villages and beaches and ferry departures eastward to Sumbawa and onward to Flores.
South Lombok (Kuta, Sekotong, Tanjung Aan)
Magnificent remote beaches and surfing heaven
Gili Islands (Gili Air, Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan)
Tiny islands of the west coast, popular with divers and a vital cog in the Asian backpacker circuit
Mount Rinjani looms large over Lombok
Mataram — the capital city of West Nusa Tenggara province and the island's largest city
Kuta — a surfing mecca like its Bali namesake, but that's where the similarity ends
Praya — Lombok's second city and nearby to the site of the islands international airport, Bandara Internasional Lombok.
Selong — the capital city of the East Lombok Regency
Senggigi — the islands principal tourist strip with a wide range of hotel, resort and villa destinations. Includes the Senggigi township and the coastline from Senggigi beach to Mangsit beach in the immediate north and Batu Layar to the immediate south
Tanjung — small city in the northwest, administrative capital of North Lombok Regency, lies at the foot of Mount Rinjai's slopes, the two nearby peninsulas of Medana and Sire are home to some of the best resort and luxury villa destinations on the island
Gili Islands — three islands off the west coast, popular with backpackers
Bangsal — a small beach landing site serving the public ferries to the Gili Islands
Lembar — the islands principal commercial port, serves the larger passenger carrying vehicular ferries to Bali
Mount Rinjani — large, active volcano looming over the island and the 3rd highest peak in Indonesia; the Mount Rinjani National Park is a hugely dominant feature of the island
Senaru — gateway village area to Mount Rinjani, with some great waterfalls and other spectacular natural scenery
Sekotong — off the beaten path in West Lombok, this area is fast becoming a tourist destination.
Tanjung Aan — almost impossibly beautiful isolated bay in the southeast which is earmarked for high end resort development
Tetebatu — village on the southern edge of the Mount Rinjani National Park with wonderful scenery
Lush resort garden, Senggigi, Lombok.
Located just east of Bali, Lombok in many ways lives up to or exceeds the promotional term, "an unspoiled Bali". With beautiful beaches, enchanting waterfalls, the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani combined with relatively few tourists, Lombok is indeed the paradisaical tropical island that many people still mistakenly imagine Bali to be now.
Lombok and Bali are separated by the Lombok Strait. It is also part of the bio-geographical boundary between the fauna of Indo-Malaysia and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia. The boundary is known as the Wallacean Line, after Alfred Russell Wallace who first remarked upon the striking difference between animals of Indo-Malaysia and those of Australasia and how abrupt the boundary was between the two biomes.
Calling Lombok paradise does not mean it is all things for all people. With a few exceptions, the natural landscape and the traditional way of life have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Virtually all small to medium size businesses are run by local families. Many of these businesses sell a wide variety of merchandise, where villagers can find food, hardware, and toys all in a single small store. While it is possible to find five-star hotels run by global corporations this is the exception not the rule. The ubiquitous global fast food franchises are restricted to two outlets in the precincts of Mataram Mall in the main City of Lombok and are well sign-posted.
In the Indigenous language of the Sasak people of Lombok the word lombok ""(luum-book) which literally translates into Bahasa Indonesian as as lurus (Enstraight ahead).
A common misunderstanding is that the name of the island Lombok is derived from the Bahasa Indonesian meaning of lombok which is chilli or (cabe in Bahasa Indonesian) as is thought by many visitors and some Indonesians from other parts of the archipelago.
 History of tourism
The dominant Sasak culture in Lombok and the very restrained and quiet nature of its people may help explain why Lombok is less popular in terms of shopping, cuisine, and nightlife than Bali. Lombok is however becoming increasingly popular with tourists and honeymooners who want to relax in an inexpensive, tropical, un-crowded atmosphere, with many natural treasures and majestic scenery. Nothing happens quickly in Lombok and visitors who are stressed from their daily lives find Lombok a delightful place to unwind.
The anticipated tourism boom has been halted on several occasions. In 2000, mobs of the ethnic Sasak people, ostensibly provoked by fundamentalist Muslim agitators, diverted from a trip to Maluku, looted and burned churches as well as homes and businesses owned by Hindus and ethnic Chinese. These actions were actively resisted by many of the Sasak people and brought on a swift response from the authorities to protect the tourism precincts of the island. The bombing of nightclubs in Bali in 2002 and the further explosions in 2005 further exacerbated the fears held by foreign tourists. For many years the embassies of several countries have issued stern travel advisory warnings against travel to Indonesia. The ensuing years have remained very peaceful in Lombok. In the years 2010-2011 tourists appear to have regained some confidence that travel to the island is safe. The fears and apprehension amongst many international tourists concerning travel to Lombok appear to be entirely unsupported. Aside from minor and very isolated incidents of petty theft and the normal dangers of travelling on the roads in Indonesia the island remains a quiet, peaceful and safe destination for visitors. Lombok is a relaxing place, the warm tropical sun can normally slowly melt a sense of urgency and a hurried pace off most visitors
A new international airport the Bandara Udara Internasional Lombok and associated infrastructure is currently being built in central southern Lombok. The new airport is expected to be in operation sometime in 2011.
Lombok has a rich and enduring indigenous culture that has withstood the pressures of modernity remarkably well. The strong remnant culture and history of the Sasak people is one of the many unique attractions of the island. The island has of a total population of 3,166,685 (as of 2010 Census), 85% are indigenous Sasak people whose origins are thought to have arisen from Java in the first millennium BC. Other residents include an estimated 10–15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Tionghoa-peranakan, Javanese, Sumbawanese and Arab Indonesians. The Sasak people are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike the Hindu Balinese, the majority practice local Muslim faith and traditions.
Some have described Islam as being first brought to Lombok by traders arriving from Sumbawa in the 17th century who then established a following in eastern Lombok. Other accounts describe the first influences arriving in the first half of the 16th century. The palm leaf manuscript Babad Lombok contains the history of Lombok and describes how Sunan Prapen was sent by his father, The Susuhunan Ratu of Giri, on a military expedition to Lombok and Sumbawa in order to convert the population and propagate the new religion. However the new religion took on a highly syncretistic character, frequently mixing animist and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs and practices with Islam. This remained so until a more orthodox Sunni characterised version of Islam slowly began to become popular in the beginning of the 20th century. The Indonesian government agamaization programs (acquiring of a religion) in Lombok during 1967 and 1968 led to a period of some considerable confusion in religious allegiances and practices. These agamaization programs later led to the emergence of more conformity in religious practices in Lombok.
A historic group portrait of Sasak chiefs of the island of Lombok, late 1800's
A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu ("Three Prayers"), who as the name suggests pray only 3 times daily, instead of the 5 times stipulated in the Quran. Many of the Waktu Telu beliefs are entwined with animism. Waktu Telu has influences not only of Islam, but also Hinduism and pantheistic beliefs. There are also remnants of Boda (people without a religion) who maintain Pagan Sasak beliefs.
Before the arrival of Islam Lombok experienced a long period of Hindu and Buddhist influence that reached the island through Java. To this day a minority Balinese Hindu culture remains strong in Lombok.
The Hindu minority religion is still practised in Lombok alongside the majority Muslim religion. Hinduism is followed by the many ethnic Balinese who have travelled across the Lombok Strait from Bali as well as some people of indigenous Sasak origin.
All the main Hindu religious ceremonies are celebrated in Lombok and there are many villages throughout Lombok that have a Hindu majority population. According to local legends two of the oldest villages on the island, Bayan and Sembalun, were founded by a prince of Majapahit.
The Nagarakertagama, the 14th century palm leaf poem that was found on Lombok, places the island as one of the vassals of the Majapahit empire. This manuscript contained detailed descriptions of the Majapahit Kingdom and also affirmed the importance of Hindu-Buddhism in the Majapahit empire by describing temple, palaces and several ceremonial observances.
Lombok experienced a period of Balinese occupation until the Dutch colonial government reinstated the Sasak rulers in the early 1890s following a direct appeal from the deposed Sasak rulers to the Dutch colonialists asking them to assist in driving out the Balinese occupiers. After a protracted, costly and destructive military campaign the Dutch eventually overwhelmed the Balinese with a bloody battle fought around Ampernan and Mataram. The Dutch took the Nagarakretagama manuscript as part of the valuable Lombok treasure taken as war-booty from the destroyed palace of Mataram-Cakranagara in Lombok in 1894. Following the defeat of the Balinese occupiers the people of Lombok remained under Dutch colonial control of the Netherlands East Indies until the Japanese occupied Lombok in the 1940s.
2012 (1433): Jul 20 - Aug 18
2013 (1434): Jul 9 - Aug 7
2014 (1435): Jun 28 - Jul 27
The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days. Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country.
The Christian minority religion is actively practised in Lombok by some of Chinese ethnicity and other Indonesians especially those from East Nusa Tenggara.
There is also a small Arab community in Lombok whose history dates back to early settlement by traders from Yemen. The small community is still evident mainly in Ampenan, the old port of Mataram and retain many of their own traditions.
A UNHCR refugee centre was established some years ago in Lombok. Recently people of Iraqi origin have arrived in Lombok under the provisions of this UNHCR program. Many of the displaced have remained in a state of limbo in Lombok whilst trying to seek immigration to nearby Australia or elsewhere. Some of these refugees have intermarried with Lombok residents, this adding adding their own subtle cultural influence to Lombok.
There are also a small number of people predominantly of European, Australian and New Zealand origins who are resident or semi-permanent residents of Lombok. Some are retirees, others have business activities in Lombok or nearby or they are employed in the mining industries of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB'). Most are living in the coastal areas of West Lombok.
Lombok has individual settlers and small communities of Indonesian people from other areas including Bali,Jawa, Sumbawa, and Timor as well as other areas of Indonesia but the prevailing and dominant culture remains that of the Sasak people.
Many influences of animist belief still prevail within the Sasak community. Traditional magic is widely practised to ward off evil and illness, to seek good fortune or to assist with the resolution of disputations and personal antipathy. There are a range of outcomes sought from local Dukun (traditional healer and magician) ranging from love spells to death. Thieves will often have magic used upon them so that their bodies will become 'hot' leading to a confession, a frequent trespasser may become disoriented and become 'lost' or a boy may fall under a girls spell of desire and fall in love with her. Magic may be practised by an individual alone but normally a person experienced in such things is sought out to render a service. Normally money or gifts are made to this person in return for their services and the most powerful practitioners are treated with considerable respect.
While tropical, hot and humid, Lombok is drier than neighbouring Bali, which makes it a particularly attractive option during the Oct-Apr rainy season (it rains on Lombok too, but rarely for more than an hour or two). The peak of the tourist season, though, is May-August.
The main local language is Bahasa Sasak, the language of the indigenous Sasak people of Lombok. Bahasa Sasak is normally spoken throughout Lombok and has dialectal variations across the island. Bahasa Indonesia is also spoken or at least understood by many local people and will normally be used in government offices, larger shops and businesses. In the more remote and undeveloped areas of Lombok however, Bahasa Indonesia is not frequently used and often cannot be understood by the local people, especially the elderly and those who have missed out on formal schooling.
English is reasonably common in the resort areas and occasionally some other European languages are spoken by people