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Lombok (population 2,950,105 in 2005) is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, 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. It is roughly circular, with a “tail” to the southwest, about 70 km across and a total area of about 4,725 km² (1,825 sq mi). The provincial capital and largest city on the island is Mataram.
A temple in Lombok C1925
Lombok has a rich and enduring indigenous culture. The strong remnant culture and history of the indigenous Sasak people is one of the many unique attractions of the island. The majority of Sasak people are now Muslim  however 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.
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 which contains the history of Lombok 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.
Masters of Ceremonies employed by the Balinese rulers of Lombok C1870.
This remained so until a more orthodox 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. 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 Straight 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.
The Christian religion is practised by some of Chinese ethnicity and other Indonesians who live in Lombok, especially those from East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur). There is also a small Arab community in Lombok who’s history dates back to early settlement by traders from Yemen. The small community is still evident mainly in Ampenan, the old Port of Mataram. Due to the siting of a UNHCR  refugee centre in Lombok some refugees from middle eastern countries have intermarried with Lombok people. Recently many people of Iraqi heritage have arrived in Lombok and many are suspended in limbo whilst trying to seek immigration to nearby Australia.
A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu (“Three times”), who as the name suggests pray only three times daily, instead of the five 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. The Boda are also referred to as Bodha and often by the Sasak people as Buda this apparently arising from the habit in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s of assigning Boda people to the Buddhist religion so as to ascribe their beliefs and practices to an officially recognised religion. There is some considerable uncertainty about this though as others believe that the term Buda was simply a pejorative term used by the Islamized Sasak to indicate those groups that refused to convert to Islam. If this hypothesis is true, the remnants of the Boda religion can be seen as representing a kind of original Sasak culture, undiluted by later Islamic innovations. Many influences of animist belief still prevail within the Sasak people and most Sasak people believe strongly in the existence of spirits or ghosts. The sasak people regard both food and prayer as indispensable whenever they seek to communicate with spirits, including the dead  and many ritualistic traditional Sasak practices still endure despite the influences of both modernity and orthodox Islam. Traditional magic is practised to ward off evil and illness and to seek solutions to disputations and antipathy. There are a range of outcomes sought 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 and the most powerful practitioners are treated with considerable respect.
Dutch intervention in Lombok and Karangasem against the Balinese in 1894.
The Dutch first visited Lombok in 1674 and settled the eastern most part of the island leaving the western half to be ruled by a Hindu dynasty from Bali. Also in 1674 the Dutch East India Company concluded it’s first treaty with the Sasak Princess of Lombok. In 1692 the Balinese invaded Lombok and by about 1740 the Balinese had effective control of the whole island with four small Balinese kingdoms feuding over control. In 1838 the King of Mataram overthrew his opponents and took over control of Lombok. The Sasak frequently rebelled against the Balinese rulers until eventually the Dutch intervened and despatched a military expedition to topple the Mataram ruler in 1894. 
The entire island was annexed to the Netherlands East Indies in 1895 after the Dutch intervention in Lombok
Main article: Dutch intervention in Lombok and Karangasem
 Geography and demographics
The Lombok Strait marks the passage of the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia that is known as the Wallace Line, for Alfred Russel Wallace , who first remarked upon the distinction between these two major biogeographical regions and how abrupt the boundary was between the two biomes .
The island’s topography is dominated by the centrally-located stratovolcano Mount Rinjani, which rises to 3,726 m (12,224 ft), making the second highest volcano in Indonesia and the nations third highest mountain. The most recent eruption of Rinjani was in May, 2010 at Gunung Barujari. Ash was reported as rising up to two km into the atmosphere from the Barujari cone in Rinjani’s caldera lake of Segara Anak. Lava flowed into the caldera lake, pushing its temperature up and crops on the slopes of Rinjani were damaged by ash fall. The volcano, and its crater lake, ‘Segara Anak’ (child of the sea), are protected by the Gunung Rinjani National Park established in 1997.
The highlands of Lombok are forest clad and mostly undeveloped. The lowlands are highly cultivated. Rice, soybeans, coffee, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, cacao, cloves, cassava, corn, coconuts, copra, bananas and vanilla are the major crops grown in the fertile soils of the island. The southern part of the island is fertile but dryer especially toward the southern coastline.
The island’s inhabitants are 85% Sasak whose origins are thought to have migrated from Java in the first millennium BC and number around 2.6 million of a total population 2.95 million (2005). Other residents include 10–15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Chinese, Arab, Javanese, and Sumbawanese. The Sasak population are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike the Hindu Balinese, the majority are Muslim and the landscape is punctuated with mosques and minarets. Islamic traditions and holidays influence the Island’s daily activities.
 Economy and politics
Proximity to Bali is Lombok’s blessing, and its curse. “While only 25 miles separate the two islands, they are in fact worlds apart”. Indeed, overzealous tourism officials notwithstanding, Lombok is not “an unspoiled Bali,” or “Bali’s sister island.” Lombok is not Bali at all, and that is precisely its charm. Lombok has retained a more natural, uncrowded and undeveloped environment, which attract travelers who come to enjoy its relaxed pace and the opportunity to explore the island’s unspoiled, spectacular natural beauty.
Local Sasak children
Nusa Tenggara Barat and Lombok may be considered economically depressed by First World standards and a large majority of the population live in poverty. Still, the island is fertile, has sufficient rainfall in most areas for agriculture, and possesses a variety of climate zones. Consequently, food in abundant quantity and variety is available inexpensively at local farmer’s markets, though locals still suffer from famine due to drought and subsistence farming. A family of 4 can eat rice, vegetables, and fruit for as little as US$0.50. Even though a family’s income may be as small as US$1.00 per day from fishing or farming, many families are able to live a contented and productive life on such astonishingly small incomes. The people of Lombok however are coming under increasing pressure from rising food and fuel prices and access to housing, education and health services remains difficult for many of the islands indigenous population.
Lombok’s most important industry is tourism. The most developed area of tourism in Lombok is centered about the township of Senggigi. Senggigi and it’s immediate surrounds contain the most developed tourism activities in the coastal tourism strip that is spread along a 30-kilometer strip of the coastal road north from Mataram and the nearby current airport at Ampenan. A large number of hotels and resorts offer accommodations ranging from budget to luxurious. Approximately 1-5 kilometers offshore from the mainland lie the three highly popular Gili Islands. These are most commonly accessed by boat from Bangsal near Pemenang, or from Senggigi. Recently direct fast boat services have been running from Bali making a direct connection to the Gili islands. Although rapidly changing in character, the Gili’s still provide both a lay-back backpacker’s retreat and a high class resort destination.
Other tourist destinations include Mount Rinjani  and Kuta (distinctly different from Kuta, Bali) in south Lombok where surfing is considered some of the best in the world by leading surfing magazines. The Kuta area is also famous for its beautiful, largely deserted, white sand beaches. Sekotong, in southwest Lombok, is popular for its numerous and diverse scuba diving locations. The northern west coast near Tanjung  has many new upmarket hotel and villa developments centered about the Sire and Medana peninsular nearby to the Gili islands and a new boating marina at Medana bay. These new developments complement the already existing 5 star resorts and a large golf course already established there.
Under the Suharto New Order, Lombok enjoyed stability and growth. Tourist development started in the mid-1980’s, when Lombok attracted attention as an ‘unspoiled’ alternative to Bali. Initially, low budget bungalows proliferated at places like the Gili islands and Kuta, Lombok on the South Coast. These tourist accommodations were largely owned by and operated by local business entrepreneurs. Areas in close proximity to the airport, places like Sengiggi, experienced rampant land speculation for prime beachfront land by big businesses from outside Lombok.
In the 1990’s the national government in Jakarta began to take a very active role in planning for and promoting Lombok’s tourism. Under Suharto’s autocratic rule, private organizations like the Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC) and the Lombok Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) were formed as a way for high government officials to profit personally from the tourist development projects. LTDC prepared detailed land use plans, complete with maps and areas zoned for tourist facilities. To ensure large, prime beachfront parcels would be available for development by foreign investors, Suharto and his cronies worked to purchase land, using the LTDC as a thin veil of propriety. As a result, many unsophisticated, local landholders were pressured by Suharto’s henchmen to sell at bargain prices and forcefully removed from their land.
Although the autocratic techniques to control and profit from tourism can be criticized, the land planning and land acquisition programs have facilitated tourism businesses and benefited the local population. Large hotels provide primary employment for the local population. Ancillary business, ranging from restaurants to art shops have been started by local businessmen. These businesses provide secondary employment for local residents.
The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the fall of Suharto regime in 1998 marked the beginning a decade of setbacks for tourism. Spurred by rapid devaluation of the currency and the transition to true democracy caused all of Indonesia to experience a period of domestic unrest.. Many of Indonesian Provinces struggled with elements of the population desiring autonomy or independence from the Republic of Indonesia. At the same time fanatical Islamicterrorism in Indonesia further aggravated domestic unrest across the archipelago.
In Jan 2000, radical Islamic agitators from the newly formed Jemaah Islamiyah provoked religious and ethnic violence in the Ampenan area of Mataram and the southern area of Senggigi. Many foreign expatriates and tourists were temporarily evacuated to Bali. Numerous foreign embassies issued Travel Warnings advising of the potential danger of traveling to Indonesia.
Subsequently, the 2002 Bali bombings, the 2005 Bali bombings and the Progress of the SARS outbreak in Asia all dramatically impacted tourism activities in Lombok. Tourism was slow to return to Lombok, provoked in part by a worldwide reluctance to travel because of global tensions. Only since 2007 – 2008, when most developed countries lifted their Travel Warnings has tourism recovered to the pre-2000 levels.
The years leading up to 2010 has seen a rapid revival and promotion of tourism recovery in the tourism industry. The number of visitors has far surpassed the pre-2000 levels. All signs indicate the long-term trend will see a steady increase in the number of visitor arrivals.
Both the local government and many residents recognize that tourism and services related to tourism will continue to be the major source of income for the island. The island’s natural beauty and the customary hospitality of its residents make it an obvious tourist destination.
Lombok retains the allure of an undeveloped and natural environment. Tourism visits to this tropical island are increasing again as both international and local tourists are re-discovering the charms of Lombok. With this new interest comes the development of a number of boutique resorts on the island providing quality accommodation, food and drinks in near proximity to an relatively unspoiled countryside.
The Indonesian government is actively promoting both Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa as Indonesia’s number two tourism destination after Bali. The President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Ministry of Cultural and Tourism and the regional Governor have made public statements supporting the development of Lombok as a tourism destination and setting a goal of 1 million visitors annually by the year 2012 for the combined destination of Lombok and Sumbawa.  This has seen infrastructure improvements to the island including road upgrades and the construction of a much delayed new International airport in the islands south. 
The island is served by the Selaparang Airport AMI in Ampenan, Selaparang airport provides an intentional terminal that services limited direct flights to and from Singapore with Silk Air. Domestic services connect directly to to Java, Bali and Sumbawa.
Lombok International Airport (Bandara Baru Internasional Lombok) is south west of Praya in South central Lombok. It is expected to begin operations in 2011 and at that time Selaparang may close.
PT. Angkasa Pura 1 (PERSERO) Mataram
- Address: Jl. No Adisucipto. 1, Mataram, Lombok Barat, NTB, Indonesia, 83124
- ☎+62 370 622987
- Facsimile: +62 370 632030
Lembar Harbour seaport in the southwest provides shipping facilities and a ferry roll on roll off facility for inter-island transport and passenger services. Labuhan Lombok ferry port on the east coast provides a ferry roll on roll off facility for inter-island transport and passenger services to Poto Tano on Sumbawa with connections onward to the eastern areas of the province.
Pelni Shipping Lines, Jl Industri No1, Ampenan, Lombok,
- ☎+62 370 37212 (fax: (0370) 31604)