Flores is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It is located between Sumbawa and Komodo to the west and Lembata and the Alor Archipelago to the East. These Lesser Sunda Islands actually consist of two geologically distinct archipelagos. The northern archipelago, which includes Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and Wetar, is volcanic in origin, and was formed during the Pliocene, about 15 million years ago, as a result of the collision between the Australian and the Asian plates. The islands of the southern archipelago, including Sumba, Timor and Babar, are non-volcanic and belong to the Australian plate. The islands East of Lombok have the driest climate in Indonesia and the original vegetation of Flores is dry forest rather than the rain forest that covers the Greater Sunda Islands in the western part of Indonesia.
Measured as a straight line from the west to the east coast Flores is 400 km (220 miles) long; at its widest point the distance from north to south is 60 km (40 miles). The total surface is 15,624 km² and the island has 1,835,000 inhabitants. There are many different languages spoken on the island, all of them belonging to the Austronesian family, but remarkably Flores is almost entirely Roman Catholic. The indigenous population was originally converted by Portuguese traders and missionaries who first arrived in Flores as early as the 16th century.
Until fairly recently travelers to Flores came for two reasons only: Komodo and Kelimutu, but word is spreading fast that the island has much more to offer in terms of cultural treasures and natural wonders. It is no longer a secret that Flores is a land of open-hearted people and the Lonely Planet Guide refers to the island as Indonesia’s 'Next Big Thing'.
The airport and harbor of Labuan Bajo (on the western tip of Flores) are the traditional entrance point to the Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The west coast of Flores is actually a part of that Park and aside from the islands of Komodo and Rinca it is one of the few places, where the Komodo dragon can be found in the wild. Otherwise the best known tourist attraction in Flores is Kelimutu, a volcano that contains three colored lakes, located in the district of Ende off the south coast. These lakes are in the caldera and percolated by a volcanic source of gas they are filled with highly acidic water. The lakes change colors on an irregular basis, depending on the level of oxidation in the waters, from bright red through green and blue.