Lombok Island General Information, Mataram flight bali, surabaya, jakarta

General Information

The earliest recorded society on Lombok was relatively small kingdom of the Sasaks. The Sasak peoples were agriculturalists and animists who practised ancestor and spirit worship. The original Sasaks are believed to have come overland from north-west India or Myanmar(Burma) in waves of migration that predated most Indonesian ethnic group. Few relic remain from the old animist kingdoms, and the majority of Sasaks today are Muslim, although animism has left its mark on the culture.

Not much is known about Lombok before the 17th century, at which time it was split into numerous, frequently squabbling states each presided over by a Sasak “prince” – a disunity exploited by the neighboring Balinese.

In the early 17th century, the Balinese from the eastern state of Karangasem established colonies and took control of west Lombok. At the same time, the roving Makassarese crosed the strait from their colonies in west Sumbawa and established settlements in east Lombok. This conflict of interests ended with the war of 1677-8, in which the Makassarese were booted off the island and east Lombok temporarily reverted to the rule of the Sasak princes. Balinese control was soon reasserted and by 1740 or 1750 the whole island was in their hands.

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While the Balinese were now the masters of Lombok, the basis of their control in west and east Lombok was quite different. In west Lombok, relations between the Balinese and the Sasaks were relatively harmonious. The Sasak peasants, who adhered to the mystical Wektu Telu interpretation of Islam, easily assimilated Balinese Hinduism, participated in Balinese religious festivities and worshipped at the same shrines. Intermarriage between Balinese and Sasaks was common.

The western Sasaks were organised into similar irrigation associations (subak) that the Balinese used for wet-rice agriculture. The traditional Sasak village government, presided over by a chief, was done away with and the peasants were ruled directly by the rajah or a land owning Balinese aristocrat.

Things were very different in the east, where the recently defeated Sasak aristocracy hung in Limbo. Here the Balinese had to maintain control from garrisoned forts and, although the traditional village government remained intact, the village chief was reduced to little more than a tax collector for the local Balinese district head (punggawa)

The Balinese ruled like feudal kings, assuming control of the land from the Sasak peasants and reducing them to the level of serfs. With their power and land-holdings slashed, the Sasak aritocracy of eastern Lombok was hostile to the Balinese. The peasants remained loyal to their former Sasak rulers, and supported rebellions in 1855, 1871 and 1891.


Lombok lies 8 degrees south of the equator and stretches some 80km east to west and about the same distance north to south. It is dominated by the second highest mountain in Indonesia, GUNUNG RINJANI, which soars to 3726m. It has a large caldera with a crater lake, Segara Anak, 600m below the rim, and a new volcanic cone which has formed in the center. Rinjani last erupted in 1994, and evidence of this can be seen in the fresh lava and yellow sulphur around the inner cone.

Central Lombok, to the south of Rinjani is similar to Bali, with rich alluvial plains and fields irrigated by water flowing from the mountains. In the far south and east it is drier, with scrubby, barren hills. This area gets little rain and often has droughts which can last for months. In recent years, several dams have been built, so the abundant rain-fall of the wet season can be retained for irrigation throughout the year.


In Lombok’s dry season – from June to September – the heat can be scorching. At night, particularly at higher elevations, the temperature can drop so much a sweater and light jacket are necessary. The wet season extends from October and January the wettest months.

Flora & Fauna

The 19th century naturalist Sir Alfred Wallace (1822 – 1913) observe great differences in fauna between Bali and Lombok – as great as the differences between Africa and South America. In particular. He postulated that during the ice ages when sea levels were lower, animals could have moved by land from what is now mainland Asia all the way to Bali, but the deep Lombok strait would always have been a barrier. Thus he drew a line between Bali and Lombok, which he believed market the biological division between Asia and Austaralia.

Plant life, on the other hand, does not display such a sharp division, but there is a gradual transition from predominantly Asian rainforest species to mostly Australian plants like eucalypts and acacias, which are better suited to long dry periods. This is associated with the lower rainfall as one moves east of Java. Environmental differences, including those in the natural vegetation, are now thought to provide a better explanation of the distribution of animal species than Wallace’s theory about limits to their original migrations.

Modern bio-geographers do recognize a distinction between Asian and Australian fauna, but the boundary between the regions is regarded as much fuzzier than Wallace’s line. This transitional zone between Asia and Australia is nevertheless referred to as “WALACEA”

Population & Language

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Lombok has a population of 2.4 million (1990 census), with the majority living and around the principal centers of Mataram, Praya and Selong. Almost 90% of the people are Sasak, about 10% are Balinese, and there are minority population of Chinese, Javanese and Arabs.

Most people on Lombok are bilingual, and speak their own ethnic language (Sasak), as well as the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, which they are taught at school and use as their formal and official mode of communication.

Apart from those working in the tourist industry, few people on Lombok speaks English, and this includes police and other officials. Nevertheless, English is becoming more widely spoken on Lombok.

Money Changer

You can change cash and travelers cheques in major currencies at banks and money changers in Mataram and the tourist centres Senggigi, the Gilis and Kuta. Money changers normally offer more attractive exchange rates than banks, but their rates are 10% to 15% lower than a tourist service on Bali, so it’s worth stocking up on rupiah if you are arriving from Bali. In remotes area it is difficult to get change, so always make sure you will carry a lot of small notes and loose change.

Suggested Itineraries

You will need at least one week to fully appreciate Lombok, plus another few days if you plan to climb Gunung Rinjani. Two weeks is about all you need, unless you plan to do a lot of trekking, sunbaking and exploring of traditional village.


All parts of Indonesia utilize electricity supply is 220V. There are some areas like Gili air, Gili Meno and Kuta, electricity supply is limited, erratic or nonexistent. In these three tourist areas, mid-range and up market hotels normally have small generators, but chieper places may have no electricity at all, so bring candles and a torch (flashlight).


Lombok is relatively poor and undeveloped, so toilets in most restaurants and budget hotels are more likely to be the squat-style variety, and they won’t provide toilet paper. Toilet paper is available at general stores throughout Lombok, but if there’s a bin next to the toilet, use it to dispose of the paper so you do not clog up their system.


Most of the health considerations are the same as for Bali, except that Malaria is a real risk on Lombok. We suggest you to consume the Malaria tablets before visiting Lombok

Medical Services

There are a few decent hospital in Mataram, as well as less salubrious public hospitals in Praya (Central Lombok) and Selong (East Lombok). There is also a medical clinic for tourists in Senggigi. For anything serious, go to Denpasar or even Singapore or Darwin.

Post & Communications

The main post office in Mataram is the only one with a poste restante service; other post offices will accept poste restante mail, but then redirect it to Mataram. You can have mail sent to your hotel, but it may take time. You can send and receive international calls and faxes from private and telkom wartels (public telephone offices) in most larger towns, for about the same cost as in Bali. There is a Home Country Direct Dial telephone inside the waiting room at the Mataram airport. The emergency telephone numbers for Lombok are the same as on Bali. All of Lombok is in the (0370) telephone area code.

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