Lombok is the second in the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands and located between Bali and Sumbawa. Except for a peninsula protruding in the southwest, Lombok is roughly circular, about 70 km across. With a total area of 4,725 km² the island is slightly smaller than Bali and has 3.5 million inhabitants. The indigenous Sasak people make up some 85% of the population and are thought to have migrated from Java several centuries BCE. The Sasaks are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike the Hindu Balinese, the majority practices the Muslim faith. Before the arrival of Islam Lombok was for many centuries under Hindu and Buddhist influence and in the 18th century Lombok experienced a period of Balinese occupation. Until today 15% of the inhabitants are ethnic Balinese whose culture remains strong. Nowadays most of the Sasaks follow fairly orthodox Sunni beliefs but there are still minorities that mix basic Islam with Hindu-Buddhist and animistic elements.
Sasak culture is characterized by the restrained and quiet nature of its people and the natural landscape and the traditional way of life have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Since Lombok is much less developed than Bali it attracts travelers who come for the relaxed pace and the spectacular natural beauty.
The island's landscape is dominated by Mount Rinjani, which rises to 3,726 m (12,224 ft) and is the second highest volcano in Indonesia. The most recent eruption of Rinjani was in May, 2010 when plumes of ash were rising up to two km into the atmosphere. Rinjani is a so-called stratovolcano with composite cones; in the caldera high up on the western side of Mt. Rinjani at an altitude of 2,208 m there is a huge lake and a new volcano is emerging from the centre of this lake. The area surrounding the volcano and the caldera were declared a National Park in 1997. There are licensed guides to take trekkers to the rim and into the caldera. For the diehard it is possible to make the more arduous climb to the highest point. The park covers 41,330 hectares within its boundaries and there are a further 66,000 hectares of protected forest nearby with many natural treasures and majestic scenery.
The tourism facilities on the island are mainly on the west coast around Senggigi where a large number of hotels and resorts offer accommodation that ranges from budget to luxurious. Highly popular are also the Gili Islands lying offshore in the northwest. There are no cars or motorbikes here and the Gili’s are slowly changing from a laid-back backpacker's retreat into a resort destination. The Kuta area on the south coast is famous for its beautiful, largely deserted, white sand beaches. Sekotong, in southwest Lombok, has spectacular diving locations while Desert Point at Banko Banko is considered one of the best surfing spots in the world.
Lombok is a delightful place to unwind.
Lombok : Splendid Sister to Bali
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