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West Nusa Tenggara

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The province of West Nusa Tenggara encompasses Lombok, the Gili islands, Sumbawa and a bunch of smaller islands, and makes up the western section (save Bali) of the Lesser Sunda islands.

Separated from the far more popular Bali by the Lombok Strait, West Nusa Tenggara is also separated by the Wallace Line, a geographical boundary credited to Alfred Russel Wallace which divides the ecologies (both flora and fauna) of Asia and Australia. Visitors travelling from Bali to Lombok will notice the change immediately.

Slightly smaller than neighbouring Bali, Lombok attracts but a fraction of the visitor numbers of its more popular neighbour, despite boasting better beaches and an arguably more spectacular interior. The majority of the population is Muslim and you'll see far less of the ritual cultural richness so evident in Bali, and you'll have no troubles waking up early thanks to the near ubiquitous-ness of mosques across the island.

The indigenous population of Lombok are the predominanatly Muslim Sasak people, though as with the rest of Indonesia, there remains a strong underlying influence of animist and magical beliefs. Ramadan is a big deal in Lombok and while the place doesn't shut down during this fasting period, outside of tourist areas your selection of warungs and cheaper places to eat may be a little limited. Alcohol, especially in the touristed areas, continues to flow unhindered. Hotels and guesthouses and other tourist services remain open during Ramadan.

Balinese Hinduism is practised by the Balinese minority on the island and most major Balinese Hindu festivals are observed in Lombok. Balinese businesses will be found across the island but especially in the more tourist focussed areas such as the Gilis and Senggigi.

The beaches, especially along the south coast around Kuta and the area north of Senggigi, are simply fabulous and far less developed than anything you'll see on Bali. The interior is dominated by stunning Gunung Rinjani, an almost 4,000m volcano set at the north centre of the island. Climbing the peak is one of the most popular activities on Lombok.

Off the northwest coast are the tiny Gili islands, which for many travellers form the first stopping point between Bali and Lombok. The three islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, each attract their own specific crowd, with gap-year travellers on a party bender heading to Gili Trawangan (Gili T to its friends), families to Gili Meno and grown ups after more creature comforts to Gili Air. All three are well known for their beaches, snorkelling and diving.

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West Nusa Tenggara

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