Flores Island - Location and geographyIndonesia, "Land of Thousand Islands". Like pearls in the emerald green sea, the Indonesian archipelago of 17505 islands stretches between the Asian continent and Australia. One of these pearls is Flores Island in the archipelago of the small Sunda Islands.
Flores Island is part of Nusa Tengarra, which includes the islands southeast of Bali. In addition to the island of Flores, these include the islands of Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Sumba, Timor and the islands of the Solor and Alor archipelagos. Together with the islands of Komodo, Sumba and West Timor, the island of Flores belongs to the Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT)
Flores Island is with 14220 km² - 360 km long and only between 12 and 60 km narrow - the second largest island Nusa Tenggaras and at the same time the most scenic and varied.
In 1544, a Portuguese merchant ship discovered the eastern cape of the island and named it "Cabo de Flores". Since then, the island have its European name, although there are no more flowers growing here than in other parts of Indonesia. In Indonesia and Malay the island is called "Pulau Bunga" (Flower Island).
Flores is located in the volcanic belt that stretches from Sumatra to Java, Bali until Banda sea. A turbulent geological history is reflected in the highly rugged mountain landscape of Flores. Several volcanoes covers the entire length of the island. The highest still active volcanoes on the island are the Egon Volcano near Maumere and the Inerie near Bajawa. The most famous volcano on Flores is the volcano Kelimutu with its three crater lakes, which change the colors between green, turquoise, white and black-red.
Climate & Weather on Flores - Best time to travel
Due to its geographical position on both sides of the equator, Indonesia has a distinctly tropical climate with monsoon winds, which bring from June to September dry climate with little rain or even no rain at all and from December to March it is raining much. There are only 2 seasons dry and rainy season. On each day of the year the sun shines for about 12 hours, the sunrises and sunsets last only very short and the change between day and night is very quickly.
Flores Island has a typical monsoon climate. Rainy season is from December to March. June to September is dry season, during the months October, November and April, May can be occasionally rain but usually it is dry.
Measured by the rainfall, Flores can be divided into three zones: 1. the dry north coast with less than 1000 mm of rain per year, 2. the central mountain with over 2000 mm of rain per year and 3. the south coast, which benefits more often from the rainfall.
In the coastal lowlands, temperatures are between 24℃ and 34℃ throughout the year. In the mountainous regions with peaks up to 2445m the average temperatures is up to 12℃ lower and don't rise above 30℃ at lunchtime, so it is good weather for extensive hikes and trekking. At night there can be very cool in the mountains.
The best time to visit Flores is from mid-April to mid-November, when there is dry season and rain is very unlikely. Although the temperatures are very similar throughout the year, the months after the rainy season from May to August are most pleasant due to low humidity. At night it cools down pleasantly. In the months before the rainy season from September/October, until the first rain, it can become very hot due to the high humidity.
Fauna & Flora on Flores Island
The so-called Wallace Line➚ runs between the islands of Indonesia. This dividing line is so named after the English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who found out during his travels between 1854 and 1862 that certain Asian mammals such as elephants, tigers, tapirs and Orang-Utans are found on Sumatra, Java and Bali but do not exist on Sulawesi, the Moluccas and the small Sunda Islands.
The differences in wildlife east and west of the Wallace line date back to the Ice Age. While the islands of Java and Bali were periodically connected to the Asian mainland during the Pleistocene, the islands east of the Wallace line were long geographically isolated and can only be reached by sea. Flores is located east of the Wallace line and you can no longer find large Asian mammals here but many Asian birds, insects and you can find reptiles.
The most famous reptile is the Komodo dragon, the largest representative of the genre of the lizard living on earth today. Although it is, with a length of more than 3 meters and a weight of up to 150 kg, not inconspicuous this species is first known to science by the Dutch Ouwens in 1912.
The Komodo lizard live on two offshore islands of Flores Island, the Komodo Island (here they were discovered, hence the name) and as well on Rinca Island. Both islands are located west of Flores and can be reached by boat in 2.5 hours (Rinca) and 4 hours (Komodo) from Labuan Bajo.
In particular interesting is the very rich underwater world, coral reefs and interesting fish species in the Flores Sea. The earthquake in December 1992 unfortunately damaged coral reefs off the northern coast of Flores Island, especially in Maumere Bay. In the meantime, however, both the soft corals and the hard corals have almost completely recovered and the colorful underwater world inspires more and more snorkelers and divers.
Although the flowery name of the island "Capo de Flores" suggests it, no more flowers grow here than in other parts of Indonesia. Nevertheless, the landscape of Flores is very green.
The original monsoon forests has to give way for agricultural land. Nevertheless, it is in many places like drive through the jungle, especially in the rainy season. These are "gardens" which are jointly managed by the village communities. Many tropical crops & spices, such as coffee, cocoa, bananas, durian fruits, jackfruit, papaya, vanilla and much more grow across the board and only the village community knows who owns which tree or branch.
In the east of the island, the Alang-Alang-Gras shaped the landscape for a long time, but in the meantime these areas are also successfully cultivated and converted into agricultural land. Likewise, mountain slopes are being terraced laboriously, because only in this way the adequate nutrition of the population can be ensured.
In the west near Ruteng, rice fields characterize the landscape and in the east there are still extensive coconut palm groves, whose planting dates back to the time of colonization. The bamboo forests near Bajawa are also impressive and a valuable raw material for house building.
Population on Flores
East Nusa Tenggara is different in many ways than the rest of Indonesia. It is geographically, ethnically and culturally a border area that separates Asia from Australia and Micronesia.
The Melanesian cultural origins of the population cannot be overlooked. There are also descendants of the Portuguese and on the small islands in the Flores Sea and also sporadically in the villages on the north coast live Bajau, Bugis and Butonesen, who are originally from Sulawesi.
In addition to the ten languages spoken by six ethnic groups, there are also many dialects. The Indonesian language "Bahasa Indonesia" is the official and school language. The people live in villages and small towns. Industries are unknown here. Craftsmanship is poorly developed.
Flores is divided into 6 districts, each of which speaks different languages. About 254,000 of the 2 million people on Flores live in Sikka regency. Maumere is home to more than 20,000 people.
Hardly any other island in Indonesia was so much influenced by Christian missionaries like Flores. Already in the 16th century the conversion to Catholicism began by the Portuguese Dominican Franz Xavier, revered as a saint. Later, the Dutch continued the missionary work. From 1914 Flores became work field of the mostly German missionaries of the "Steyler Mission", whose stations can be found almost everywhere on Flores.
Today, more than three-quarters of the approximately 2 million inhabitants of Flores Island are Roman Catholic. The rest, mainly in the west of the island and in the port towns like Labuan Bajo, are followers of Islam. The old beliefs, however, could not be completely suppressed. Megalithic cultures and animist rituals still exist today, mainly in the inland villages.
Tourist Attractions on Flores Island in Indonesia
Flores Island impresses with its originality, the natural beauty and friendly people. Different to other parts of Indonesia, the native peoples of Flores are mostly Roman Catholic Christians. In spite of that magic, spirits and ancestor cult influence still very much everyday life. The sights and highlights of Flores are the mystical volcano Kelimutu, the prehistoric Komodo dragons, photogenic traditional villages where megalithic cultures still live today, varied underwater world and secluded beaches, traditional markets and picturesque fishing villages. And all of this surrounded by the jungle, rice fields and ever green mountain landscapes.
Flores is a pristine pearl in the Indonesian archipelago that has not yet been much explored by tourists. A paradise for explorers.
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