The Province of West Nusa Tenggara, also known as part of the Lesser Sunda Islands, comprise Bali and eastward through Timor.
The two major islands in this province are Lombok and Sumbawa. Lombok is where the transition from the western to the eastern Indonesian fauna and flora begins. The northern part of the island is mountainous and verdant with tall trees and shrubs covering the land. The south is arid and covered by savannas.
Large Asian mammals are absent. The shift gets more pronounced as one moves further east. Dry seasons are more prolonged, so in many areas corn and sago instead of rice is the staple food.
Lombok island has white virgin beaches, an age-old culture, separated by merely a narrow strait from Bali, it is only now being discovered as a tourist destination of exceptional charm. Here the motto is “you can see Bali in Lombok, but not Lombok in Bali”. It is an existing reality, formed by the superimposition of strong Balinese influences in the past, upon a base that is entirely Lombok’s own. At around the time Islam first came to these islands in the 16th century, four Hindu Kingdoms coexisted in apparent peace in what is now West Nusa Tenggara.
At present, Hinduism is the religion embraced mostly by the Balinese population of western Lombok. The indigenous people of Lombok, the Sasaks, are predominantly Moslem. Even more so are the people of neighboring Sumbawa.
At present, West Nusa Tenggara’s cultural make-up is a composite of the four main population groups inhabiting the two islands: the Balinese, the Sumbawanese, and the peoples of Bima and Dompu. The region is famous for its “ikat” hand-woven textiles. Cattle and horses are the major export commodities of these islands.