East Nusa Tenggara Islands have been shaped by the power and force of an enormous chain of mountains and volcanoes, which begins from the North of Sumatra and stretches east across Java. The province consists of over 550 islands, but is dominated by the three main islands of Flores, Sumba, and Timor. Occupying a unique position at the junction of Australian and Asian submarine ridges marked by the Wallace Line, it is one the world's most dynamic and exotic marine environments with nearly every species of coral and tropical fish represented. The arid landscape of eastern and southeastern Nusa Tenggara is the result of hot, dry winds blasting in from the Australian continent. In fact, in many coastal areas not a drop of rain falls during most of the year.Flores is a Portuguese name, which means 'flower' and ideally describes the beauty to be found here. This long island between Sumbawa and Timor is crowded with volcanoes and mountains dividing it into several distinct regions with individual languages and traditions. Predominantly Catholic and heavily influenced by the Portuguese, there are many examples of a strong European cultural heritage like eastern procession held in Larantuka, and the royal regalia of the former king in Maumere.
Formerly known as the Sandalwood Island, Sumba is now famous for its horses and an excellent style of ikat cloth. Spirits, both ancestral and natural are worshipped. Although some exist in East Sumba, it is in West Sumba that there are a number of enormous megalithic tombs and traditional thatched and peaked huts raised on stilts. It is here where incredible rituals take place, such as 'Pasola' where hundreds of horsemen fling spreads at each other in an annual ritual. Many traditional ceremonies, all with a component paying homage to the spirits, take place from July to October including the traditional houses and burials when sometimes hundreds of pigs, water buffaloes, horses, and dogs are scarified. Other ceremonies include 'Pajura' or traditional boxing, festivals for the Lunar New Year in October and November, horse races and ritual dances.
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