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Nusa Tenggara Timur (N.T.T.)

The south eastern islands group

The map of Kupang

The capital city of Timor and the county town of N.T.T

kupang1.gif 51 kB



The climate and weather of Indonesia is characterized by two tropical seasons, which vary with the equatorial air circulation (The Walker Circulation) and the meridian air circulation (The Hardley Circulation). The displacement of the latter follows the north-south movement of the sun and its relative position form the earth, in particular from the continents of Asia and Australia, at certain periods of the year. These factors contribute to the displacement and instensity of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which is an equatorial trough of low pressure that produces rain. Thus, the west and east monsoons, or the rainy and dry seasons, are a prevalent feature of the tropical climate.

The Main Seasons

The climate changes every six months. The dry season (June to September) is influenced by the Australian continental air masses; while the rainy season (December to March) is the result of the Asian and Pacific Ocean air masses. The air contains vapor which precipitates and produces rain in the country. Tropical areas have rains almost the whole year through. However, the climate of Central Maluku is an exception. The rainy season is from June to September and the dry season from December to March. The transitional periods between the two seasons are April to May and October to November.

Temperature and Humidity

Due to the large number of islands and mountains in the country, average temperatures may be classified as follows:

Being in a tropical zone, Indonesia has an average relative humidity between 70% and 90%, with a minimum of 73% and a maximum of 87%.


The country is predominantly mountainous with some 400 volcanoes, of which 100 are active. Mountains higher than 9,000 feet are found on the islands of Sumatra (Mt. Leuser and Mt. Kerinci), Java (Mt. Gede, Mt. Tangkubanperahu, Mt. Ciremai, Mt. Kawi, Mt. Kelud, Mt. Semeru and Mt. Raung), Sulawesi (Mt. Lompobatang and Mt. Rantekombala), Bali (Mt. Batur and Mt. Agung), Lombok (Mt. Rinjani) and Sumbawa (Mt. Tambora). The highest mountain is the perpetually snow-capped Mandala Top (15,300 feet) in the Jaya Wijaya mountain range of Irian Jaya.

Recorded eruptions of volcanoes over the last two decades are: Sumatra - Dempo 1973, and 1974, Merapi 1978, Sorik Merapi 1989, Kerinci 1990; Sunda Strait - Anak Krakatau 1978 and 1979; Java - Bromo 1972, Merapi 1972 and 1976, Raung 1978, Semeru 1978 and 1979, Butak Petarangan (Sinila and Sigludar) 1979; Paluweh - Rokatenda 1978, Galunggung 1982, Slamet 1988, Kelud 1990; Sulawesi - Lokon 1978, 1979 and 1991, Siau - Karangetang 1978 and 1979, Colo 1983, Soputan 1989; Maluku - Dukono 1978, Gamalama Kie Besi 1987, Banda Api 1988; East Nusa Tenggara - Lewotobi laki-laki 1990.

Komodo dragons
The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), the world's largest lizard, can grow to 3 metres long. Its home is on the Komodo group of reserves, which are comprised of Komodo, Padar and Rinca islands, off the coast of Flores in the eastern part of the country.


As of January 1, 1988, Indonesia's three time zones have been changed as follow:

  1. Western Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT plus 7 hours (meridian 105E), covering all provinces in Sumatra and Java, and the provinces of West and Central Kalimantan.
  2. Central Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT plus 8 hours (meridian 120E), covering the provinces of East and South Kalimantan, all provinces in Sulawesi, and the provinces of Bali, West and East Nusatenggara and East Timor.
  3. Eastern Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT plus 9 hours (meridian 135E), covering the provinces of Maluku and Irian Jaya.


East Nusa Tenggara is, in many ways different from the rest of Indonesia. It is geographically, ethnically and culturally a border area where the transition from Asia to Australia and Micronesia takes places.

The islands of East Nusa Tenggara are formed by the protruding peaks of a mountain chain which begins in northern Sumatra, stretching across Java toward the east. But unlike Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan, which are separated from the Asian mainland by shallow seas, the islands of East Nusa Tenggara have apparently always been separated from the Asian landmass by deep sea-beds. The arid landscape of eastern and southeastern Nusa Tenggara is the result of hot and dry winds coming from the Australian continent.

In many coastal areas not a drop of rain falls during most of the year. The rainfall varies between 50 mm and 200 mm a year. Temperatures vary from hot in coastal areas (30-35 degrees C) to cool in mountainous areas (15-17 degree C).

The province of East Nusa Tenggara comprises 566 islands. The three main islands are Flores, Sumba and Timor.

Flores, a long island located between Sumbawa and Timor, is strewn with volcanoes in a mountain chain dividing it into several regions with distinctive languages and traditions, scenic beauty, good beaches, and natural wonders. The name is Portuguese for 'flower', as the Portuguese were the first Europeans to colonize East Nusa Tenggara.

Occupying a unique position at the junction of the Australian and Asian submarine ridges, between the two distinct fauna regions marked by the Wallace Line, here is one of the world's most dynamic marine environments with nearly every species of coral and tropical fish represented.

Predominantly Catholic, there are several examples of its Portuguese cultural heritage like the Easter Procession held in Larantuka, and the royal regalia of the former king in Maumere.

Sumba, formerly known as the Sandalwood island, is known for its horses and Sumba cloth. The island is famous for its arts and handicrafts, particularly the textile 'ikat' weaving.

Sumba, however, is not for everyone. Neither the food nor accommodation are up to international standards. But if you are willing to make some sacrifices, you can see an authentic, ancient culture with none of the layers of Hinduism or Islam mostly found elsewhere in the country.

The island is roughly oval in shape. The greatest concentration of those who worship spirits (ancestral and those of the land) is found in West Sumba where two-thirds of the population hold on to their traditional belief. It is here where incredible rituals take place, o.a. the 'pasola' where hundreds of horsemen fling spears at each other. (The government allows the ritual to take place, but the spears must be blunt).

Although some exist in East Sumba, it is in West Sumba that one can find a greater number of huge megalithic tombs and traditional thatched and peaked huts raised on stilts.

Many traditional activities, all with a part paying homage to the spirits, take place in the months of July through October. These include the building of 'adat' houses and burials when sometimes hundreds of pigs, water buffaloes, horses, and dogs are sacrificed. Other ceremonies include the 'pajura' or traditional boxing, the festivals for the lunar new year in October and November, and August 17, Independence Day, horse races and ritual dances.

Timor is the principal island in terms of population where the capital of the province, Kupang, is located.

Timor is rich in various cultures, beautiful sceneries, and a wonderful nature. Made up of dry, rocky land, isolated communities, rolling cattle land, a variety of styles of architecture, Timor is basically something that possesses its own original characteristics.

Unlike some other parts of East Nusa Tenggara, the roads in Timor are generally good and public transportation is relatively well developed. Tourist facilities and accommodation are improving constantly and tourist spots are now more accessible due to the upgrading of many roads.

Alor Island

Alor is rich in beautiful scenery and its beaches are clean. In earlier days, traders from China, Java and Sumatra came to buy sandalwood.


The village is about 20 km from Waikabubak with its large graveyard (the largest megalithic tombs in Sumba). The tombs are always with unusual carvings. Anakalang is the site of the 'Purung Takadonga', an important mass marriage festival held every two years, on a date determinated by the full moon.

Bidadari Island

Located in Labuanbajo Bay, this island is only 15 hectares in size. It is surrounded with fine white sand beaches and calm, transparent waters, and can be reached by motorboat.


A lovely community about 45 km from Kupang with regular market days and a natural swimming pool, where traditionally people bathe, do their laundry and socialize.

Camplong is also a forest reserve where some scarce animals, such as deer (Cervus Timorensis), parrots, monkeys, etc. in the reservation are protected.


This town contains the 'home in-exile' of former and first Indonesian president, Soekarno, while in banishment during the early period of nationalist movements in 1936. The house has been repaired and is today a museum.

Flores Island

The cool town of Ruteng lies at the foot of a mountain, and can be reached by air from Denpasar and Kupang, or overland from the western part of the island via Labuanbajo, or from the east via Ende-Bajawa.

Besides the famed Komodo Dragon (lizard), the area has many attractions such as the 'caci' dance, a wildlife reserve and archeological caves. The highest mountain on the island, Mount Pocoranaka, is practically unexplored. In the cool and misty mountains, Lake Ranamese offers water sports and fishing, with lodgings available. Liang Bua Cave, 13 km. from Ruteng, caused a minor sensation not so long ago, when rare prehistorical fossils were found.


East Nusa Tenggara's natural wonder and one of Indonesia's most mysterious and dramatic sights can be found on top of this mountain, some 66 km from Ende, or 83 km from Maumere. It has a unique and spectacular view on its three crater lakes with their respective colors.

The colors, however, have changed continually since the eruption of Mount Iya in Ende in 1969.

The surrounding villages are good places serving as bases for visits to Kelimutu, particularly those who wish to have a more leisurely pace and enjoy the views along the road between Ende and Maumere, or spend more time at Kelimutu. Those little villages are also known for their excellent weaving, which still use natural dyes.

Komodo Island

A small island of 280 square km, Komodo is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. It is almost all hill and barren except for palm trees and some wood but it is famous for its giant lizards which are considered the last of their kind remaining in the world today. The Komodo Dragon (Varanus Komodoensis), called 'ora' by the local people, is actually a giant lizard, and the only animal of its kind that has survived. Growing up to 4 meters in length, its ancestors roamed the earth up to about half a million years ago.

Komodos live on carrions of goats, deer, and even the carcasses of its own kind. The only human population on the island is at the fishing village, also called Komodo, who supplement their income breeding goats which are used to feed the lizards.

The Komodo is protected by law and though they are considered harmless, it is advisable to keep at a distance from them.

Komodo Island is now known as The Komodo National Park. It is home to a number of rare bird species, deer and wild pigs, which are prey to the lizards as well.

To see the lizards in the day time, baits have to be set in the hinterland where local guides are necessary. The sea surrounding the island offers vistas of sea life, crystal clear waters, and white sandy beaches. The only accommodation available is in simple guest houses in the fishing village.

Komodo Island can be reached by ferry from Sape in Sumbawa, or from the Flores mainland via Manggari regency or by Twin Otter aircraft from the little airport of Mutiara.

A mouthful to cough up, but these are the largest lizards in the world, measuring well over three metres! Living in the tunnels of dried up river beds on the Komodo Island of Indonesia, the tail makes up half of its body and in a swing can throw a man off his feet (and knock his shoes off!).

Watch out for the drool! The Komodo's teeth (fangs, more like it) and tongue are laden with bacteria, and if not for the wounds inflicted on the victims, the germs will finish the job off nicely, quickly.

Also known as Ora, the greyish brown scaly animal has teeny ear openings which don't help much since they're (s)tone deaf. Instead, it uses its sensitive forked tongue and sharp beady eyes to detect meaty meals.

Today the numbers rest at less than two thousand. The Indonesian government has listed this reptilian as an endangered species.

Steps have been taken by the government to see to the conservation of this creature. Laws against hunters have been enacted. Also, tourists roaming the island are required to be with a guide. Feeding the dragons has been rationed (amount and time) by the authorities. This national treasure has also been bred in zoos and other places for a continuation of a lineage that leads back to the Jurassic age!


The provincial capital of East Nusa Tenggara in western Timor with approximately 200,000 inhabitants makes it the largest urban center of the province. It is the center of government, business, trade and education.

The only sandalwood oil factory in Indonesia is located in this town. Here one can see the distillation of sandalwood oil which is famous in East Nusa Tenggara.

Kupang is being developed as the gateway to East Nusa Tenggara. There are direct flights from Darwin, Australia as well as domestic flights from many major airports within Indonesia.


A little town inhabited by fishermen, lies at the extreme western part of Flores. The town serves as a jumping-off point for the trip to Komodo Island.

It is a beautiful area for water skiing, wind surfing, fishing, and many other marine activities. Pede Beach is an ideal place to do all this and from where sunsets are beautiful.


A little port nestled at the base of a tall hill at the eastern end of Flores, from where Solor, Adonara and Lembata islands (the small islands near by) are visible across the narrow strait. An old Portuguese cultural heritage like the Easter Procession is held in this town and worth seeing.

Lasiana Beach

An ideal tourist recreation spot, near the capital city of Kupang,where the beach faces westward to watch sunsets.

Lembata Island


A port town on the northeastern coast of Flores and a stopover on the way to Ende or to Larantuka. It is well connected by air with Kupang, Denpasar, and Ujung Pandang, and noted for its good beaches.

The bay of Maumere is considered a good diving spot (Flores Marine Resort) as it promises extremely rich marine life.

The resort is a paradise for all divers, underwater photographers, and for everyone interested in marine biology.

Ledalero museum at the out skirts of Maumere has an interesting collection of ethnological objects from the region. Visitors are welcome but advance arrangements should be made. Ledalero is also a name of a major catholic Seminary from where many of Flores priests originated.


The most exciting ritual of Sumba is to be witnessed right here. Where else in the world can you see colorful horsemen trying to kill each other.

The ceremony is in February in Lamboya and Kodi, and in March in Gaura and Wanukaka. The main activities start several days after the full moon and coincide with the yearly arrival to shore of strange, multi hued seaworms.

Rote Island

Rote has many fine historical relics, including fine antique Chinese porcelains, as well as ancient arts and traditions. The popular musical instrument, the 'Sasando' is made of palm leaves. Like other parts of East Nusa Tenggara, hand-woven 'ikat' textiles are also made here.

Semau Island

Thirty minutes by boat from Kupang this island is certainly worth to stay one whole day. No noise and uncrowded is what this island stands for.

It is a holiday village for everyone and a good place to relax as it offers a haven for those from the city. The surrounding waters is a paradise for snorkeling, swimming, and other water sports. Barbecue on the beach is desirable. Bamboo cottages are available.


110 km from Kupang, in Central Timor, it is noted for its cool weather, beautiful flowers and good fruits. It is a popular weekend town for local visitors.

Sumba Island

The hand-woven 'ikat' textiles of this region differ from those in other areas of East Nusa Tenggara in that the motifs are larger.

The capital of West Sumba is Waikabubak and can be reached by air from Kupang and Denpasar via Waingapu, or by sea from Waikelo harbor.

The traditional ceremony known as 'Pasola' is performed by horse-riders armed with spears, where two villagers face each other in a mock but far from innocent battle. These ceremonies are held each year in Wanokaka, Kodi and Lamboya around February and March, and on certain holidays such as 17th August, when dance performances and horse races are also held in conjunction.

Sumba's Sandal horse are the offspring of Arabian horses brought by Indian traders who came in search of sandalwood.

Waingapu, the capital of East Sumba, can be reached by plane from Kupang and Denpasar, or by sea from Kupang, Surabaya and Ende. It has a port to export horses and cattle.

Near Waingapu, Kuta Beach is a good place to relax, and further down coast, near Baing (125 km from Waingapu), there is great surfing at Kalala Beach. The waves are best from December to May.


A neat little town in West Sumba, full of old graves carved in motifs of buffalo horns, human heads, horses, nude men or women symbolizing social status or the wealth of the people.

Right in the capital city of Waikabubak, you can see the following tombs: Kadung Tana, Watu Karagata, and Bulu Peka Mila. Tarung village, an important ceremonial center, is located on top of a hill, just a half kilometer to the west of Waikabubak.

There are several megalithic tombs. The front of many traditional houses are decorated with huge water buffalo horns from the animals sacrificed during rituals of years gone by.


Traditional hand-woven cloth, one of the most outstanding traditional handicrafts, besides those of 'lontar' leaves and sandalwood carvings, the sasando - the traditional musical instruments - either in miniature or actual size.


The local Indonesian newspaper



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