F L O R E S ISLAND
Flores island, the exotic place least visited by the foreigner. It is worth to visit the destination.
It has strong ethnic touch with typical tribal work of civilization, more people still influenced by the animistic beliefs. The nature settings are so beautiful, there are soaring volcanoes, colored crater lakes, forests, beautiful sea gardens with white sands beaches, and prehistoric Giant animals too.
Flores is a big, rugged remarkably beautiful island .Dominated by a string of volcanes, the long impenetrable terrain has divided the island into many distinct ethnic groups. There are interesting cultures here, with layers of traditional beliefs beneath the prevalent Christianity.
Flores owes its name to the Portuguese, who called its eastern most Cape Cabo Das Flores, meaning Cape of Flowers. The island diverse cultures have enough similarities to suggest that they developed from common ancestry, differentialed by geographical isolation and varying influence of outsiders. Long before Europeans arrived in the 16 century, much of coastal Flores was firmly in the hands of the Makasarnese and Bugis from southern Celebes ( Sulawesi ).
As early 1512, Flores was sighted by the Portuguese navigator Antonio de Abreu and Europeans had probably landed by 1550. The Portuguese involved in the lucrative Sandalwood trade with Timor, built Fortresses on Pulau Solor ( Solor island ) eastern of flores island .and at Pulau Ende ( Ende island ) south coast of central of Flores. In 1561 Dominican Priests established a mission on Pulau Solor. Christianity was a successful import and today a church is the centerpiece of almost every village.In the 17 century, the Dutch kicked the Portuguese out of flores. Ternate and Gowa ( a part of Molluceas island ) also ceded all their rights on Solor, Flores and eastern Sumbawa to the Dutch, giving them nominal control, but it was too complex and isolated to rule effectively. Around 1850 the Dutch purchased Portugal’s remaining enclaves in the area, including Larantuka , Sikka and Paga. Even into the first decade of the 20th century, the Dutch were constantly confronted with rebellions and inter – tribal wars. Unrest continued until a major military campaign in 1907 subdued most of the tribes of central and western Flores. Missionaries moved into the isolated western hills in the 1920’s.
Flores is holding its breath for provincial statues . This will be a huge development for the island, as it is currently under the jurisdiction of Kupang and the Nusa Tenggara Timor ( NTT ) government and has only limited control over its affairs.
The island’s turbulent volcanic past has left a complicated relief of V – shaped valleys, knife edged ridges, and a collection of active and extinct volcanoes.
One of the finest volcanoes is the caldera of Kelimutu in Central Flores, with its three colored lakes. There are 14 active volcanoes in Flores. Only Java and Sumatera have more. The central mountains slope gently to the volcanoes plunge steeply into the sea.
In the island is part of one of the worlds most geologically unstable zones, and earthquakes and tremors hit every year. In December 1992 an earthquake measuring 6,8 on the Richter scale, and then massive tidal wave that followed it, killed around 3000 people in eastern Flores and Flattened much of Maumere.The rugged terrain makes road construction difficult, although Flores is only about 375 km long, its main east – west roads winds, twists, ascends and descends for nearly 710 km – that is almost 2 – for – 1.
The rainy season ( November to March ) is more intense in western Flores, which receives the brunt of the north – Flores highest peak ( The 2400mGunung Ranaka ), gets an average of 3350mm of rain every year. But Ende , Maumere, have only 1140mm and Larantuka recevest 770mm.
Batu Cermin Cave is five kilometers from the town of Labuanbajo. It can be reached partly by car, and partly on foot. The grotto is 75 by 75 meters large, and contains stalactites and stalagmites. Some tunnels are narrow and dark but in others sunlight falls.
Around 85% of the people are Catholic but in rural areas particularly, Christianity is divided onto traditional beliefs. Animistic rituals are still important here for a variety of Occasions, ranging from birth, marriage, and death to the building of new houses, or to mark important points in the agricultural cycle. Even educated, English – speaking Florinese still admit to the odd chicken, pig ,or buffalo sacrifice to keep their ancestors happy when rice is planted or a new field opened up. In former times, it took more then animal blood to keep the Gods and spirits friendly, there are persistent tales of children or virgin girls being sacrificed. Muslims tend to congregate in the coastal towns such as Ende where they make up half population.
Flores is part of the East Nusa Tenggara province. The island is split into eight regencies (local government districts); from west to east these are: West Manggarai,Manggarai,east Manggarai, Ngada, Nagekeo, Ende, Sikka and Flores Timur.
The most famous tourist attraction in Flores is Kelimutu; three coloured lakes in the district of Ende. These coloured lakes change colours on a regular basis. The latest colours (late 2004) were said to be turquoise, brown and black.
There is good snorkelling and diving on several locations along the north coast of Flores, most notably Maumere and Riung. However, due to the destructive practice of local fishermen using bombs to fish, and locals selling shells to tourists, the reefs are slowly being destroyed.
West Flores is also the best place for eco tours, trekking, hiking, and birds watching.
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