Sumba

Sumba (Indonesian: Pulau Sumba) is an island in eastern Indonesia. It is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands and is in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. Sumba has an area of 11,059.6 square kilometres (4,270.1 square miles), and the population was estimated to be 755,849 in 2015. To the northwest of Sumba is Sumbawa, to the northeast, across the Sumba Strait (Selat Sumba), is Flores, to the east, across the Savu Sea, is Timor, and to the south, across part of the Indian Ocean, is Australia.

History

Before colonization by western Europeans in the 1500s, Sumba was inhabited by Melanesian and Austronesian people.

In 1522, through the Portuguese, the first ships from Europe arrived. By 1866 Sumba belonged to the Dutch East Indies, although the island did not come under real Dutch administration until the 20th century. Jesuits opened a mission in Laura, West Sumba in 1866.

Historically, this island exported sandalwood and was known as Sandalwood Island, or Sandel Island.

Despite contact with western cultures, Sumba is one of the few places in the world where megalithic burials are used as a ‘living tradition’ to inter prominent individuals when they die. Burial in megaliths is a practice that was used in many parts of the world during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. It has survived to this day in Sumba and has raised significant interest from scholars. At Anakalang, for instance, quadrangular adzes have been unearthed.

Another long-lasting tradition is the sometimes lethal game of pasola, in which teams of often several hundred horse-riders fight with spears.

On August 19, 1977, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale occurred and caused a tsunami. 316 people were killed on the island and islands off the west coast.

Places in Sumba

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