The Kai Islands or Kei islands are located in the southern part Maluku of Indonesia where most people called the region of spice islands. It is a region of Maluku Province of Indonesia. The most accessible part of southern Maluku, the Kei Islands are rapidly regaining their reputation as the place to go to look for perfect, unspoilt beaches. It is a paradise for most marine lover and also a hidden heaven of adventurer. The most popular destination is the island of Kei Kecil, which is connected by a bridge to the neighbouring island of Dullah. The bridge also connects the twin towns of Tual and Langgur that make up the capital of the entire Kei archipelago, and as such, the two islands form a practical unit.
The Kei Islands encompass a number of small islands with Kei Besar and Kei Kecil (big and small) being the biggest islands in the group. Kei Besar may be bigger in size but it is the Kei Kecil that has a larger population. In contrast to these two flat, deforested islands, Kei Besar, the largest of the Keis, is long, mountainous and forested. The other islands in the Kei archipelago tend to be of the little white sands and coconut palms type, but the remotest of them, Tanimbar Kei, is noted for its traditional culture. The Kei islands are definitely beautiful. But there is so much more to explore at Kei Kecil. There are nearby islands that you can only reach by boat from the little harbor Debut, a one hour drive from the airport. One of these islands is Warbal.
Christianity - The main religion in these islands is Christianity, with Kei being one of the few islands in Maluku where Catholics, rather than Protestants, dominate. In fact Kei is seen as the centre of Catholicism in all Maluku!. Churches dominate most villages, and you may well be invited to join services on Sundays.
Islam - Away from the city of Tual which has plenty of non-native inhabitants from western Indonesia, Muslims are very much a minority in the Keis. Keiese Muslims, like most in Maluku, tend to follow a very mild form of Islam, with veiled women a rarity. Mosques are mostly low-key affairs, too – however this shining new, Persian-style one is worth a look in its own right. It is on the outskirts of Tual, along the road leading towards Dullah village and Difur.
Inhabitants called the islands Nuhu Evav (Evav Islands) or Tanat Evav (Evav Land), but known as Kei for people from neighbourhood islands. “Kai” is actually a Dutch colonial era spelling, still persisting in books based on old resources. The islands are on the edge of the Banda Sea, south of the Bird’s Head Peninsula of New Guinea, west of the Aru Islands, and northeast of the Tanimbar Islands. The small group called Tayandu Islands (also Tahayad) is just west.
The Kei islands are made up of numerous islands, including:
* Kai Besar or Nuhu Yuut or Nusteen (Great Kei)
* Kai Kecil or Nuhu Roa or Nusyanat (Little Kei)
* Tanimbar Kei or Tnebar Evav
* Kei Dulah or Du
* Dulah Laut or Du Roa
* Tayandu Islands (Tahayad) groups.
The Kei Islands’ total land area is 1438 km² (555 sq mi).
Kei Besar is mountainous and densely forested. Kei Kecil has the biggest population, and is flat. Actually it is a lifted coral reef. The capital is the town of Tual, mostly inhabited by Muslims. Nearby Langgur is the center for Christians. Kei is famous for the beauty of its beaches, e.g. Pasir Panjang.
The Kei islands are part of Wallacea, the group of Indonesian islands that are separated by deep water from both the Asian and Australian continental shelves, and were never linked to either continent. As a result the Kei Islands have few native mammals and are part of the Banda Sea Islands moist deciduous forests ecoregion.
Local history holds that ancestors of contemporary Kei islanders came from Bali, part of the expanding Majapahit kingdom from the western archipelago. The village of Ohoi-Ewur ( first Raja Ewab : Raja Ohoi-Ewur = Raja Tabtut) on Kei Kecil or Nuhuroa island was the first place that the Balinese royal family and the army arrived, where they stayed with the local residents. As a result, Ohoi-ewur became a seat of government, where the local law (Larvul Ngabal) – Red Blood and Balinese Spear – is developed by the initiative of the royal princess Dit Sakmas. Evidence of these ties on Kei Kecil and especially in Letvuan include an inheritance and a harbour named Bal Sorbay (Bali Surabaya) that is the place where the royals arrived. It is recognized by kai islanders that some of their ancestors also came from another places such as Sumbawa island (Sumbau), Buton (Vutun)in Sulawesi, Seram (Seran) and Gorom (Ngoran) islands in Central Moluccas, and Sultanates of Jailolo (Dalo) and Ternate (Ternat) as well.
The tiny island of Tanimbarkei is not part of Tanimbar, but of the Kei Islands and inhabited by less than 1000 very traditional people. Half of the population calls themselves Hindus, but in fact are more or less practising ancestor worship. After the 1999 clashes between the Muslim and Christian population in Ambon, they also swept through Kei, but calmed quick down again with fewer victims. This islands archipelagoes depends on 22 ratshcaap or traditional local leader call Rat or Raja as king of customary law
There are several flights daily betwen Ambon and Langgur on Wings, Trigana and Expressair. Trigana also flies between Langgur and Dobo (Aru Islands) both ways, and from Saumlaki (Tanimbar Islands) to Langgur, while Expressair flies from Langgur to Saumlaki. Merpati also flies VERY irregularly from Langgur to Larat and Saumlaki. There are plans to open a new airport with a longer airfield, which would enable larger aircraft to land here directly from Java and Sulawesi.
Pelni ships conect Tual with Ambon, the Bandas, Dobo (Aru) and Saumlaki (Tanimbar).
They also continue on to Papua, Sulawesi, Java and even all the way to Bintan opposite Singapore.
The KM Koromolin car ferry goes from Tual to Larat in northern Tanimbar (on Tuesdays), and to Kur via Tayando (on Saturdays) weekly, while the similar KM Lobster goes twice a week (Tuesday and Friday) to Dobo in Aru. Unlike the Pelni ships, these ferry runs are often cancelled when the seas are rough.
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