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Sumba is an island in eastern Indonesia, is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, and is in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. Sumba has an area of 11,153 kmĀ², and the population was officially at 611,422 in 2005. 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.



Historically, this island exported sandalwood and was known as Sandalwood Island [1].

Before colonization, Sumba was inhabited by several small ethnolinguistic groups, some of which may have had tributary relations to the Majapahit Empire. In 1522 the first ships from Europe arrived, and by 1866 Sumba belonged to the Dutch East Indies, although the island did not come under real Dutch administration until the twentieth century.

Despite contact with western cultures, Sumba is one of the few places in the world in which 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, but has survived to this day in Sumba.[citation needed] Another long-lasting tradition is the sometimes lethal game of pasola, in which teams of horse-riders fight with spears [2].

Social Structure


The Sumbanese people speak a variety of closely related Austronesian languages, and have a mixture of Malay and Melanesian ancestry. Twenty-five to thirty percent of the population practises the animist Marapu religion. The remainder are Christian, a majority being Dutch Calvinist, but a substantial minority being Roman Catholic. A small number of Sunni Muslims can be found along the coastal areas. The largest town on the island is the main port of Waingapu, with a population of about 10,700. The landscape is low, limestone hills, rather than the steep volcanoes of many Indonesian islands. There is a dry season from May to November and a rainy season from December to April. The western side of the island is more fertile and more heavily populated than the east.

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