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General info
 
Alor is the largest island in the Alor Archipelago located at the eastern-most end of the Lesser Sunda Islands that runs through southern Indonesia, which from the west include such islands as Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, and Flores.

To the east of the island across the Ombai Strait lie the islands of Wetar and Atauro, the latter belonging to East Timor. To the south, across the Strait of Alor, lies the western part of Timor. To the north lies the Banda Sea. To the west lies Pantar and the other islands of the Alor archipelago, and further yet the rest of the Sunda Islands.

Geography
Alor has an area of about 2800 km�, making it the largest island of the Alor archipelago. Kalabahi is the only town on the island of Alor, with a metropolitan population of about 60,000. The variety of goods obtainable in Kalabahi is surprising considering its size and location.

Alor is of volcanic origin and has very rugged terrain. The region near Kalabahi is the only flat area. This is why the Dutch placed the capital and the main harbor (Alor-Kecil) of the area here in 1911.

"The best" snorkelling and diving in Indonesia can be found in the Alor archipelago. Due to intriguing and often very strong currents it is best to snorkel or dive with someone who knows the area well. 

Economy

The island's infrastructure is only weakly built. The inhabitants practice mainly subsistence agriculture. The government seeks to change this with the help of international organizations. In the villages vanilla, tamarind, almonds and other nuts are cultivated. In the forests sandalwood is cut down for trade.

The latest geological explorations have discovered valuable resources such as gipsum, kaolin, petroleum, natural gas, tin, gold, and diamonds.

Alor's highly-esteemed snorkeling and diving promise an increase in tourism in the future. Depletion of the fisheries has however damaged the coral reefs in recent years.

Religion

Over 168,000 people live on Alor. Three-fourths are protestants, the rest are either Muslims or in a few villages Roman Catholics. Animistic rites and traditions are still strongly practiced.

Language
More than 15 different indigenous languages are spoken on Alor, the majority of them classified as Papuan or non-Austronesian. These include Abui, Adang, Hamap, Kabola, Kafoa, Woisika, Kelon, and Kui. In addition, Alorese (Bahasa Alor; ISO 693-3: aol) is a Malayo-Polynesian language which is spoken along the coast of the western and southern Bird's Head of Alor Island and in places on surrounding islands.

Many of the Papuan languages of Alor are endangered and are no longer being actively acquired by children. Some languages have fewer than 1000 speakers remaining. Significant linguistic documentation efforts have been undertaken recently by Leiden University.
The language of daily communication is Alor Malay, a unique Malay variety with some similarities to Kupang Malay. Indonesian is taught in schools and used widely in media.

Transportation

During the dry season, Kalabahi is serviced by flights five times a week from Kupang the provincial capital, using a [ATR42] 46 seat by TransNusa Trigana Air and Kasa 18 seat airplane. These flights are run by Merpati Airlines. Most of them are simply Kupang - Kalabahi - Kupang, but mid-2003 a new flight Kupang - Kalabahi - Kisar - Ambon, returning the next day, was introduced. The two Pelni passenger ships Serimau and Awu also pass through Kalabahi each week. Transport to Alor during the wet season is sometimes disrupted due to high winds and large waves.

Religious Beliefs

The majority of contemporary Alorese has converted to Christianity (precise statistics are not available), although some Alorese adhere to their traditional beliefs. Residents of coastal communities on Alor, in contrast, are predominantly Muslim. The Atimelangers studied by DuBois believed that each individual had two souls. One soul journeyed to the "village below" if the death was natural, and the other soul went to the "village above" if the death was violent. The second soul was thought to linger and potentially cause trouble; funerals were designed to placate it and send it on its way. DuBois notes that there is no consistent theory as to where this second soul ends up. In addition to one's two souls, each individual inherited a number of supernaturals bilaterally from his or her parents. There were also lineage or village guardian spirits (ulenai).

These spirits were connected to the village's wealth and crops and were represented by large crocodile-like carvings. In addition, there were "Good Beings," supernaturals who take human form and have the power to revive the dead and to travel through water and air. Malignant spirits (kari, loku), in the form of female and male witches, were also thought to exist. These evil spirits gained control over people by seducing them; while one slept, the evil spirit was said to step over and urinate on the victim and then proceed to eat his or her liver. DuBois comments that relationships to supernaturals tended to be casual and expedient.

People generally ignored these relationships unless some misfortune occurred or a favor (such as harvest success) was desired. At the time of her work, for instance, the Atimelang village guardian spirit had not received a sacrifice or carving in sixteen years. She also states that, aside from funerals, Atimelangers did not appear to devote a lot of energy to the dead. She saw no permanent shrines; those that were made were temporary and of haphazard construction.

Religious Practitioners
The Atimelangers studied by DuBois and Nicolspeyer did not appear to have a large array of religious practitioners. "Water-Lords" (je-adua) oversaw harvest rituals, and seers (timang,), assisted by spirits, performed curing rites.

Ceremonies

Death feasts, rites assuring crops, and sacrifices for the village guardian spirit were the primary rituals in Atimelang. Other spirits were periodically "fed" as well.

Arts
In the Atimelang area, the village guardian spirit is represented by a crocodile-like wood carving. There are also spirit-familiar carvings and "spirit boat" carvings. DuBois notes that the carvings she saw were "crude," made only for sacrificial purposes. Moreover, she states that other Atimelang arts were also relatively unelaborated; basketry design was of the simplest sort, and the mythology was "confused and unstructured" (DuBois 1944:134-135).

Medicine
In addition to Western-style doctors, seers are consulted for various ailments. DuBois speaks of long-delayed death feasts held by parents who fear their children's illnesses were brought on by annoyed spirits. Atimelangers also had "medicines" designed for a number of female concerns (reducing menstrual flow, inducing barrenness, and delaying conception).

 
 
 
 
 

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