Flores (Portuguese/Spanish for "flowers") is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, an island arc with an estimated area of 14,300 km² extending east from the Java island of Indonesia. The population is estimated to be around 1.5 million, and the largest town is Maumere.
Flores is located east of Sumbawa and Komodo and west of Lembata and the Alor Archipelago. To the southeast is Timor. To the south, across the Sumba strait, is Sumba and to the north, beyond the Flores Sea, is Sulawesi. Flores has several active and dormant volcanoes, including Kelimutu, Egon, Ilimuda, Leroboleng, and Lewotobi. The west coast of Flores is one of the few places, aside from the island of Komodo itself, where the Komodo dragon can be found in the wild.
In September 2003, at Liang Bua Cave in western Flores, paleoanthropologists discovered skeletons of a previously unknown hominid species. Homo floresiensis, affectionately termed hobbits after the small characters in the Lord of the Rings, appear to be miniaturized versions of Homo erectus standing about one metre tall. They may have existed until as recently as 11,000 BC. (Read more...)