Sumbawa Island

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Sumbawa is an Indonesian island, located in the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands chain, with Lombok to the west, Flores to the east, and Sumba further to the southeast. It is in the province of West Nusa Tenggara.
Sumbawa is 15,448 km2 or 5,965 sq mi (three times the size of Lombok) with a current population of around 1.33 million. It marks the boundary between the islands to the west, which were influenced by religion and culture spreading from India, and the region to the east that was not so influenced. In particular this applies to both Hinduism and Islam.


Four principalities in western Sumbawa were dependencies of the Majapahit Empire of eastern Java. Because of Sumbawa's natural resources it was regularly invaded by outside forces – Japanese, Dutch, Makassarese. The Dutch first arrived in 1605, but did not effectively rule Sumbawa until the early 20th century. The Balinese kingdom of Gelgel ruled western Sumbawa for a short period as well. It was also home to the Sultanate of Bima.

Historical evidence indicates that people on Sumbawa island were known in the East Indies for their honey, horses, sappan wood for producing red dye, and sandalwood used for incense and medications. The area was thought to be highly productive agriculturally.


Sumbawa is administratively divided into 4 regencies and one kota (city). They are:
- Sumbawa Besar Regency
- Dompu Regency
- Bima Regency
- Sumbawa Barat (West Sumbawa) Regency

Islam was introduced via the Makassarese of Sulawesi.

Sumbawa has historically had two major linguistic groups who spoke languages that were unintelligible to each other. One group centered in the western side of the island speaks Basa Semawa (Indonesian: Bahasa Sumbawa) which is similar to the Sasak language from Lombok; the second group in the east speaks Nggahi Mbojo (Bahasa Bima). They were once separated by the Tambora Kingdom, which spoke a language related to neither. After the demise of Tambora, the kingdoms located in Sumbawa Besar and Bima were the two focal points of Sumbawa. This division of the island into two parts remains today; Sumbawa Besar and Bima are the two largest towns on the island, and are the centers of distinct cultural groups that share the island.

The population of the island (including minor outliers) was 1.33 million at the latest decennial Census in 2010, comprising 29.58%[3] of the population of the entire province's with 4.5 million people. Due to lack of work opportunities on the island and its frequent drought conditions (unlike wet Bali), many people on the island seek work in the Middle East as laborers or domestic servants; some 500,000 workers, or over 10% of the population of West Nusa Tenggara, have left the country to work overseas.


The island is bound by bodies of water; to the west is Alas Strait, south is the Indian Ocean, Saleh Bay creates a major north-central indentation in the island, and the Flores Sea runs the length of the northern coastline. The Sape Strait lies to the east of the island and separates Sumbawa from Flores and the Komodo Islands, there are a number bays and gulfs, most notably Bima Bay, Cempi Bay, and Waworada Bay

Sumbawa's most distinguishing feature is Saleh Bay and the Tambora Peninsula with Mount Tambora. Highlands rise in four spots on the island, as well as on Sangeang Island, the large western lobe of Sumbawa is dominated by a large central highland, there is Mt. Tambora, Dompu and Bima each have more minor highlands.

There are a number of large surrounding islands, most notably are Moyo Island, volcanically active Sangeang Island and the touristic Komodo Islands (administered under Flores) to the east.