Komodo is one of the 17,508 islands that make up the Republic of Indonesia. The island has a surface area of 390 km² and over 2000 inhabitants. The inhabitants of the island are descendants of former convicts who were exiled to the island and who have mixed themselves with the Bugis from Sulawesi. The population are primarily adherents of Islam but there are also Christian and Hindu minorities.
Komodo is part of the Lesser Sunda chain of islands and forms part of the Komodo National Park. Particularly notable here is the native Komodo dragon. In addition, the island is a popular destination for diving. Administratively, it is part of the East Nusa Tenggara province.
The earliest stories of a dragon existing in the region circulated widely and attracted considerable attention. But no one visited the island to check the story until official interest was sparked in the early 1910s by stories from Dutch sailors based in Flores about a mysterious creature. The creature was allegedly a "dragon" which inhabited a small island in the Lesser Sunda Islands (the main island of which is Flores in East Nusa Tenggara).
The Dutch sailors reported that the creature measured up to seven meters in length with a large body and mouth which constantly spat fire. Hearing the reports, Lieutenant Steyn van Hensbroek, an official of the Dutch Colonial Administration in Flores, planned a trip to Komodo Island. He armed himself, and accompanied by a team of soldiers he landed on the island. After a few days, Hensbroek managed to kill one of the strange animals.
Van Hensbroek took the animal to headquarters where measurements were taken. It was approximately 2.1 meters long, with a shape very similar to that of a lizard. More samples were then photographed by Peter A. Ouwens, the Director of the Zoological Museum and Botanical Gardens in Bogor, Java. The records that Ouwens made are the first reliable documentation of details about what is now called the Komodo dragon or Komodo monitor.
Ouwens was keen to obtain additional samples. He recruited hunters who killed two dragons measuring 3.1 meters and 3.35 meters as well as capturing two pups, each measuring less than one meter. Ouwens carried out studies on the samples and concluded that the komodo dragon was not a flamethrower but was a type of monitor lizard monitor lizard. Research results were published in 1912. Ouwens named the giant lizard Varanus komodoensis, more commonly known as a Komodo Dragon. Realizing the significance of the dragons on Komodo Island as an endangered species, the Dutch government issued a regulation on the protection of Komodos on Komodo Island in 1915.
The komodo dragon became something of a living legend In the decades since the Komodo was discovered, various scientific expeditions from a range of countries have carried out field research on the dragons on Komodo Island.
Komodo has been included into the controversial New7Wonders of Nature list since November 11, 2011.