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Flores (island, Indonesia)

Flores (flôr´ĕs), island, 6,627 sq mi (17,164 sq km), E Indonesia, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Flores is heavily wooded, rugged, and mountainous, rising to 7,872 ft (2,399 m); there are active volcanoes. The inhabitants are predominantly Christian, mainly Roman Catholic; those in the west are chiefly Malays, and those in the east are Papuans. Corn and coconuts are grown. Ende (1990 pop. 48,966) is the chief town and port. The Flores Sea is north of the island and S of Sulawesi.

Among the prehistoric inhabitants of the island were small-proportioned humans that some scientists consider a separate human species, which they classified as Homo floresiensis in 2004; the individuals lived on Flores as recently as 17,000 years ago. Other scientists, however, believe that the ancient remains found on Flores are those of modern humans who suffered from microcephaly and dwarfism, the effects of a nutritional deficiency, or Down syndrome. Much later under the rule of the princes of Sulawesi, Flores came under Dutch influence c.1618. The Dutch gradually gained control of the island, although Portugal held the eastern end until 1851 and the natives were not completely subjugated until 1907.

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