Island, Lesser Sunda Islands, south-central Indonesia. The island, with an area of 4,306 sq mi (11,153 sq km), is mainly a high plateau with good harbours on the northern coast. Its chieftains were brought by treaty under Dutch control in 1756. Sumba became part of independent Indonesia in 1950. It is known for the Sandalwood horse and Ongole cattle, and its woven cloth is famous for its design. Corn is the main crop; copra is exported.
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Sumba is an island in Indonesia, and is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands. It has an area of 11,153 km², and the population was officially at 611,422 in 2005. There is a dry season from May to November and a rainy season from December to April. Historically, this island exported sandalwood.
To the northwest of Sumba is Sumbawa, to the northeast, across the Sumba Strait (Selat Sumba), is Flores, to the east, across the Savu Sea, is Timor, and to the south, across part of the Indian Ocean, is Australia. It is in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. The largest town on the island is Waingapu, with a population of about 10,700.
Before colonization, Sumba was inhabited by several small ethnolinguistic groups, some of which may have had tributary relations to the Majapahit Empire. In 1522 the first ships from Europe arrived, and by 1866 Sumba belonged to the Dutch East Indies, although the island did not come under real Dutch administration until the twentieth century.
The Sumbanese people speak a variety of closely related Austronesian languages, and have a mixture of Malay and Melanesian ancestry. Twenty-five to thirty percent of the population practises the animist Marapu religion. The remainder are Christian, a majority being Dutch Calvinist, but a substantial minority being Roman Catholic. A small number of Sunni Muslims can be found along the coastal areas.
Despite the influx of western religions, Sumba is one of the few places in the world in which megalithic burials, are used as a 'living tradition' to inter prominent individuals when they die. Burial in megaliths is a practice that was used in many parts of the world during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, but has survived to this day in Sumba.