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Flores is an island in southeastern Indonesia, one of the Lesser Sundas, between the Flores and Savu seas, west of Timor. With its spectacular ridge of 14 smoking volcanoes, high mountain lakes and stretches of tropical forest, Flores is considered one of Indonesia's most beautiful islands. The most breathtaking scenery can be found at the three crater lakes beneath the rim of Keli Mutu volcano. Each lake is a different colour as a result of their varying dissolving minerals and oxygen levels. Visitors may land at Maumere, a port town on the northeastern coast of Flores, Ende on the southern coast or Larantuka, the Holy City on the eastern coast.
Centuries ago Portuguese explorers named the island "Cabo das Flora" (Cape of Flowers) after the abundant coral reefs in the surrounding seas. It was a Portuguese colony for about 300 years, and the modern culture reflects a good deal of Iberian influence. Today Flores is dotted with small villages inhabited by people of mixed ethnic origin who rely on traditional farming and fishing for survival. The traditional villages situated on surrounding islands provide visitors with a close-up look at the unique cultures of these Eastern Indonesian islands. Traditional arts still endure in this archipelago, primarily in the form of fine hand-woven ikats.
Flores is 224 miles long and about 35 miles wide. The terrain is extremely mountainous, with peaks rising more than 2134 m (more than 7000 ft) and inland, the island is heavily forested. The few rivers that traverse the island are not navigable. The population is chiefly Malayan-Papuan. In October 2004 scientists confirmed the discovery on the island of the 18,000 year old remains of Homo floresiensis, more widely known as "the hobbit man".
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