Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Barat or NTB) province, Indonesia. It forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east. It is roughly circular, with a “tail” (Sekotong Peninsula) to the southwest, about 70 km across and a total area of about 4,725 km² (1,825 sq mi). The provincial capital and largest city on the island is Mataram. It is somewhat similar in size and density with neighboring Bali and shares some cultural heritage, but is administratively part of NTB along with sparsely populated Sumbawa. It is surrounded by a number of smaller islands locally called Gili. The island is home to some 3.16 million Indonesians as recorded in the decennial 2010 census, and in 4 regencies along with the provincial capital Mataram.
Little is known about the Lombok before the seventeenth century. Before this time it was made up of numerous competing and feuding petty states each of which were presided over by a Sasak ‘prince’. This disunity was taken advantage of by the neighbouring Balinese who took control of western Lombok in the early seventeenth century. The Makassarese meanwhile invaded eastern Lombok from their colonies in neighbouring Sumbawa. The Dutch had first visited Lombok in 1674 and the Dutch East India Company concluded its first treaty with the Sasak Princess of Lombok. The Balinese had managed to take over the whole island by 1750, but Balinese infighting resulted in the island being split into four feuding Balinese kingdoms. In 1838, the Mataram kingdom brought its rivals under control.
Tourism is an important source of income on Lombok. The most developed tourism area of the island is on the west coast of the island and is centered about the township of Senggigi. The immediate surrounds of the township contain the most developed tourism facilities. The west coast coastal tourism strip is spread along a 30 km strip following the coastal road north from Mataram and the old airport at Ampenan. The principal tourism area extends to Tanjung in the northwest at the foot of Mount Rinjani and includes the Sire and Medana Peninsulas and the highly popular Gili Islands lying immediately offshore. These three small islands are most commonly accessed by boat from Bangsal near Pemenang, Teluk Nare a little to the south, or from further south at Senggigi and Mangsit beach. A large number of hotels and resorts offer accommodations ranging from budget to luxurious. Recently direct fast boat services have been running from Bali making a direct connection to the Gili islands. Although rapidly changing in character, the Gili islands still provide both a lay-back backpacker’s retreat and a high class resort destination. Other tourist destinations include Mount Rinjani, Gili Bidara, Gili Lawang, Narmada Park and Mayura Park and Kuta (distinctly different from Kuta, Bali). The Kuta area is also famous for its beautiful, largely deserted, white sand beaches. Sekotong, in southwest Lombok, is popular for its numerous and diverse scuba diving locations. South Lombok surfing is considered some of the best in the world and includes Desert Point at Banko Banko in the southwest of the island. The northern west coast near Tanjung has many new upmarket hotel and villa developments centreed about the Sire and Medana peninsular nearby to the Gili islands and a new boating marina at Medana bay. These new developments complement the already existing 5 star resorts and a large golf course already established there.
Lombok International Airport (Bandara Internasional Lombok) (IATA: LOP, ICAO: WADL) is south west of the small regional city of Praya in South central Lombok. It commenced operations on 1 October 2011. It replaced Selaparang airport near Ampenan. It is the only operational international airport within the province of West Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Barat).
Selaparang Airport in Ampenan was closed for operations on the evening of 30 September 2011. It previously provided facilities for domestic services to Java, Bali, and Sumbawa and international services to Singapore to Kuala Lumpur via Surabaya and Jakarta. It was the island’s original airport and is situated on Jalan Adi Sucipto on the north western outskirts of Mataram. The terminals and basic airport infrastructure remain intact but it is closed to all civil airline traffic.
Lembar Harbour seaport in the southwest has shipping facilities and a ferry for road vehicles and passenger services. Labuhan Lombok ferry port on the east coast provides a ferry for road vehicles and passenger services to Poto Tano on Sumbawa. Pelni Shipping Line provide a national network of passenger ship services throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Pelni have offices in Ampenan.
Fastboat services are provided for passenger movements between the nearby island of Bali and principally serve the Gili Islands, with some limited onward traffic to the Lombok mainland. Landfall is on one or more of the Gili islands dependent upon the operator and on the mainland is at either Teluk Nare/Teluk Kodek, or the township of Senggigi, both on the nearby west coast of the main island of Lombok. The services are controversial in nature in that the majority of the services use craft unsuitable to the conditions, with questionable safety standards and inadequate levels of crew training for operations in open water.
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