Sumba, Sumbanese Dance at Rumah Budaya
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Sumba is an island in the SE of Indonesia with a population of c.500,000. Geologically the island is a continental fragment which broke off from Africa or Australia and floated up to the ridge of line of Volcanic Islands where it has settled. It lies south of Sumbawa and Flores and to the West of Timor (also a continental fragment). As a consequence its rock base is largely coral limestone with an average soil cover of between 0cm and 10cm in many regions. This makes agriculture in the more barren regions virtually impossible and enhances the value of the few fertile basins in the East and the more fertile and wet west.
The Island is divided into four administrative regions. East Sumba being the largest with its capital in Waingapu. The former West Sumba district has just been dived into three: Central Sumba, West Sumba and South West Sumba.
Climatically however the island is divided almost perfectly in half. Each region lies at the extremes of tropical Savannah (a monsoon season of roughly three months in the East and up to five months in the West). The East receives its climate from the deserts of Northern Australia. It is dry and hot, has nine month dry season and an average temperature of between 27°-36° throughout the year. While it has a low level of rainfall it has a strong water basin and the Kambaniru river which rises from over 88 forest protected water sources in the south provides sufficient water for most of the region. Increased depletion of forest areas surrounding these water sources is a major threat to the life of the east of the Island.