SUMBAWA (Dutch Soembawa), one of the Little Sunda islands in the Dutch East Indies, east of Lombok, from which it is separated by the narrow Alas Strait. It has an area of 4300 sq. m., or, including the neighbouring islands, 5240 sq. m. The deep bay of Sale or Sumbawa on the north divides the island into two peninsulas, and the isthmus is further reduced by the narrower Bay of Chempi on the south. The eastern peninsula is deeply indented on the north by the Bay of Bima. Four mountain chains cross the island in a west to east direction. The northern, as in Bali and Lombok, is of volcanic origin. Tambora, forming a minor peninsula east of Sumbawa Bay, is said to have lost a third of its elevation in the eruption of 1815, but is still 9055 ft. high. In the southern chain is found a limestone formation analogous to that in Bali, Lombok and Java. Between these two chains are round hills consisting of lavas or sometimes of volcanic tuffs, covered with the long silvery grass which also clothes vast prairies in Java and Sumatra. There are no navigable streams. The climate and productions are not unlike those of Java, though the rains are heavier, the drought more severe, and the fertility less. Sulphur, arsenic, asphalt and petroleum exist. The natives live solely by agriculture. But out of a total population of about 75,000 there are 11,000 foreigners, living mostly by trade and navigation. The natives consist of Sumbawans proper, a people of Malayan stock; of Buginese and Macassar immigrants, and of wild tribes of the mountains of whom nothing is known. Mahommedanism prevails throughout the island, except among the mountain tribes.
Politically Sumbawa, with its four independent states, belongs to the confederated states of the government of Celebes and its dependencies, a situation to be explained by the fact of the old supremacy of the Macassaresi over Sumbawa, Flores and Sumba. The independent states are Sumbawa proper, Dompo, Sangar and Bima. Two other states on the northern extremity of the island were so far devastated by the Tambora eruption of 1815 that their territory, after lying for long uninhabited, was in 1866 divided between Dompo and Sangar. Sumbawa proper occupies the western peninsula. The residence of the sultan is Sumbawa on the north coast. It is surrounded with a palisade and ditches. The inhabitants of this state employ sometimes the Malay and sometimes the Macassar character in writing. A considerable trade is carried on in the export of horses, buffaloes, goats, dinding (dried flesh), skins, birds' nests, wax, rice, katyang, sappanwood, etc. Sumbawa entered into treaty relations with the Dutch East India Company in 1674. Dompo is the western half of the eastern peninsula. The capital of the state, Dompo, lies in the heart of the country, on a stream that falls into Chempi Bay. Bada, the sultan's residence, is farther west. Sangar occupies the north-western promontory of the island, and Bima the extreme east. Bima or Bodjo, the chief town of the latter state, lies on the east side of the Bay of Bima; it has a stone-walled palace and a mosque, as well as a Dutch fort.
See Zollinger, " Soembawa," in Verhandelingen van het Batav. Genootschap, xxiii.; Ligtvoet, " Anteekeningen betreffende den economischen Toestand en de Ethnographic van Soembawa," in Tijdschr. Bat. Gen. xxiii.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)