– Sumba island
Sumba Island belongs to the Lesser Sunda Islands. Sumba has an area of about 11000 square kilometres, so it is roughly twice the size of Bali. With approximately 685000 inhabitants (2010) Sumba has only about one sixth of the population of Bali. Although Sumba is less than 100 kilometres from the southern coast of Sumbawa and Flores – and still in visibility range – it is quite different:
Instead of high volcanoes, as in many other islands of Indonesia, the terrain is rather hilly; the highest mountain is 1225 meters high. Geologically, Sumba is a continental fragment that broke off from Africa or Australia and floated to the edge of the line of volcanic islands of Indonesia. Sumba consists mainly of coral limestone. Only at the south coast there are also volcanic rocks. Sumba has no mineral resources. But when drilling in 2010 in Wanggameti National Park gold was found.
No lush green covers the landscape. The north and east of the island are extremely dry and the landscape resembles a savannah. In open areas weather and wind have partially exposed the craggy rocks. In central highlands hills are covered with Alang grass. To the south and west it is green – but only in valleys and on the southern slopes of the mountains you find humid tropical vegetation. About 7% of the area of Sumba is covered with original forest.
Sumba is one of the three biggest islands of East Nusa Tenggara region called FLOBAMORA (Flores Sumba, Timor, Alor). Sumba is also one of the island on the Lesser Sunda islands with an area of about 11000sq km roughly twice the size of Bali with approximately 685000 inhabitants (2010). Istead of high peak volcanoes in many other islands of Indonesia, the terrain is rather un flat and hilly . Geologically, Sumba is a continental fragment that broke off from Africa and Australia and floated to the edge of the line of volcanic islands of Indonesia. Sumba consists mainly of coral limestone. Only in the south coast there are volcanic rocks. Sumba has no mineral sources, but when drilling in 2010 in Wanggameti National Park Gold was found.
Sumba has a semi-arid climate. Especially the east of the island is characterized by the hot north-Australian climate. There is a dry season from May to October. From November to April it might rain. The monsoon or rainy season lasts from about 3 months in the east up to 5 months in the west. Rainfall ranges from 800-1000 mm per year in the northeast to 1000-1500 mm in the central region and up to 1500-2000 mm in the south-western part of the island. In the eastern part the average temperature is between 27 and 36 degrees Celsius. In the west the average is 2-3 degrees cooler. Night temperatures are significantly lower than in Bali. During the month of July to September night temperatures sometimes drop down to 15 degrees. The highest temperatures occur before the first rains in October or November.
According to the opportunities of income from agriculture, the western side of the island is more populated than the east. In Sumba most people are descendants of Malays and Melanesians. There was also immigration from Timor and Savu in the south-eastern areas; at the north-western coasts Muslim people settled from Sumbawa, Ujung Padang (Makassar), and even from Arabia (Palestine). Colonial rulers, especially the Portuguese left their mark. The Sumbanese in appearance does not exist.
The Savunese from Savu represent the largest and most influential group of non-Sumbanese. They endeavour to greater autonomy and an own administration district in East Sumba with the capital Melolo.
Because of the missionary work of Portugal, the Netherlands, and Germany about 64% of the population are Christians (3/4 Protestants, 1/4 Catholic), 6% are Muslims, and 30% predominantly believe in the traditional Marapu religion (but statistics vary completely). The missionary work by German Redemptorists and the Dutch Church still continues today. Sumbanese people are often verbally critical about other people and religions.
About half of the population are children. The rate of newborn children in Sumba is still rising. Most families have 8-10 children. “Many children, many blessings” – this motto seems to be true because children help their parents mainly in their fields and fetching water. For grown-up daughters they get a dowry: water buffalo, horses, and cows