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 (three times the size of Lombok) with a
population of around 1.5 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
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 divided into 4 regencies and one kota (city). They are:
* West Sumbawa Regency
* Sumbawa Regency
* Dompu Regency
* Bima Regency
* Bima City.
To the west
is Alas Strait, Saleh Bay in the middle, the Flores Sea in the
There are a number of smaller surrounding islands, most notably Moyo
Island, Sangeang Island and Komodo Islands to the east.
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 Samawa (Indonesian:
Bahasa Sumbawa) which is similar to the Sasak language from Lombok;
the second group in the east speaks Nggahi Mbojo (Bahasa Bima). 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 official estimate of population as at 2005 was
within the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is a volcanic island, including
Mount Tambora (8°14’41”S, 117°59’35”E) which exploded in 1815, the
most destructive volcanic eruption in modern history (roughly four
times larger than the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, between Java and
Sumatra, in terms of volume of magma ejected). The eruption killed
as many as 72,000. It also apparently destroyed a small culture of
Southeast Asian affinity, known to archaeologists as the Tamboran
kingdom. It launched 100 cubic kilometers of ash into the upper
atmosphere, which caused 1816 to be the "year without a summer."