Lombok is quickly becoming one of the popular places of Indonesia. The half a milion people which visit Lombok every year is only a very small amount compared with Bali, byt their number will certainly increase, since hotels have been built over the recent years. All good places along the beach, even those which can only be reached by jeep, are already bought by contractors from Jakarta.
Comparisons with the neighboring Bali are remarkable, the island is only a little smaller, and the population is only a little smaller. There are about 100,000 Balinese in West-Lombok, descendants from the intruders in the 17th century. They maintain a network of temples and have the same rituals and ceremonies as the Balinese on the other island. Besides this minority the two cultures on the island are very different. The local population of Lombok, the Sasak, are Muslim; their art and religious lives are very different from those of their Hindu neighbors.
The name 'Lombok' could have been derived from that of a hot red chilli-pepper, but this is probably a folk etymology. The Sasak name their island Bumi Gora, 'the dry agricultural soil', or Selaparang, to an old principality in East-Lombok.
With it's shape, Lombok looks a little bit like a lumbung, a traditional rice shed, and measures about 80 km from north to south, and seventy km from west to east. A big peninsula in the southwest stretches to the west, in the southeast is another, smaller, peninsula.
Off the coast are groups of small islands, which are names 'Gili', the Sasak word of island. Some of them are inhabited by fishermen and some cattle, the most known - Gili Air, Gili Meni and Gili Trawangan, off the northwestern coast - are home to masses young, mainly European tourists, especially in the months July, August and September.