Bali Island

Bali is an Indonesian island located at 8°25′23″S 115°14′55″E / 8.42306°S 115.24861°E Coordinates: 8°25′23″S 115°14′55″E / 8.42306°S 115.24861°E, the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the country's 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island.

With a population recorded as 3,151,000 in 2005, the island is home to the vast majority of Indonesia's small Hindu minority. 93.18% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, while most of the remainder follows Islam. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music.


The Blanjong (Belanjong) pillar inscription in Sanur dates to 914 CE, and testifies to the contacts between Bali and the Indian subcontinent.
Offering temple in Bali is predominantly Hindu.
Bali was inhabited by Austronesia peoples by about 2000 BC who migrated originally from Taiwan through Maritime Southeast Asia.[2] Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are thus closely related to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, the Philippines, and Oceania. Stone tools dating from this time have been found near the village of Cekik in the island's west.
Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian and Chinese, and particularly Hindu culture, in a process beginning around the 1st century AD. The name Bali dwipa ("Bali Island") has been discovered from various inscriptions, including the Blanjong pillar inscription written by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 914 AD and mentioning "Walidwipa". It was during this time that the complex irrigation system subak was developed to grow rice. Some religious and cultural traditions still in existence today can be traced back to this period. The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. When the empire declined, there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests and musicians from Java to Bali in the 15th century.

The first European contact with Bali is thought to have been made by Dutch explorer Cornelius de Houtman who arrived in 1597, though a Portuguese ship had foundered off the Bukit Peninsula as early as 1585 and left a few Portuguese in the service of Dewa Agung. Dutch colonial control expanded across the Indonesian archipelago in the nineteenth century (see Dutch East Indies). Their political and economic control over Bali began in the 1840s on the island's north coast by pitting various distrustful Balinese realms against each other. In the late 1890s, struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the island's south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control.

The Dutch mounted large naval and ground assaults at the Sanur region in 1906 and were met by the thousands of members of the royal family and their followers who fought against the superior Dutch force in a suicidal puputan defensive assault rather than face the humiliation of surrender. Despite Dutch demands for surrender, an estimated 4,000 Balinese marched to their death against the invaders. In the Dutch intervention in Bali (1908), a similar massacre occurred in the face of a Dutch assault in Klungkung. Afterwards the Dutch governors were able to exercise administrative control over the island, but local control over religion and culture generally remained intact.
Dutch rule over Bali had come later and was never as well established as in other parts of Indonesia such as Java and Maluku. Imperial Japan occupied Bali during World War II during which time a Balinese military officer, Gusti Ngurah Rai, formed a Balinese 'freedom army'. In the 1930s, anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, and artists Miguel Covarrubias and Walter Spies, and musicologist Colin McPhee created a western image of Bali as "an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature", and western tourism first developed on the island. Following Japan's Pacific surrender in August 1945, the Dutch promptly returned to Indonesia, including Bali, immediately to reinstate their pre-war colonial administration. This was resisted by the Balinese rebels now using Japanese weapons. On 20 November 1946, the Battle of Marga was fought in Tabanan in central Bali. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, by then 29 years old, finally rallied his forces in east Bali at Margarana, where they made a suicide attack on the heavily armed Dutch. The Balinese battalion was entirely wiped out, breaking the last thread of Balinese military resistance. In 1946 the Dutch constituted Bali as one of the 13 administrative districts of the newly-proclaimed Republic of East Indonesia, a rival state to the Republic of Indonesia which was proclaimed and headed by Sukarno and Hatta. Bali was included in the "Republic of the United States of Indonesia" when the Netherlands recognized Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949.
The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many displaced Balinese to be transmigrated to other parts of Indonesia. Mirroring the widening of social divisions across Indonesia in the 1950s and early 1960s, Bali saw conflict between supporters of the traditional caste system, and those rejecting these traditional values. Politically, this was represented by opposing supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), with tensions and ill-feeling further increased by the PKI's land reform programs. An attempted coup in Jakarta was put down by forces led by General Suharto. The army became the dominant power as it instigated a violent anti-communist purge, in which the army blamed the PKI for the coup. Most estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people were killed across Indonesia, with an estimated 80,000 killed in Bali, equivalent to 5 per cent of the island's population. With no Islamic forces involved as in Java and Sumatra, upper-caste PNI landlords led the extermination of PKI members.

As a result of the 1965/66 upheavals, Suharto was able to maneuver Sukarno out of the presidency, and his "New Order" government reestablished relations with western countries. The pre-War Bali as "paradise" was revived in a modern form, and the resulting large growth in tourism has led to a dramatic increase in Balinese standards of living and significant foreign exchange earned for the country. A bombing in 2002 by militant Islamists in the tourist area of Kuta killed 202 people, mostly foreigners. This attack and in 2005, tourism is affected, so much economic hardship to the island.


The island of Bali lies 3.2 km (2 mi) east of Java, and is approximately 8 degrees south of the equator. East to west, the island is approximately 153 km (95 mi) wide and spans approximately 112 km (69 mi) north to south; its land area is 5,632 km².
The highest point is Mount Agung at 3,142 m (9,426 feet) high, an active volcano that last erupted in March 1963. Mountains range from centre to the eastern side, with Mount Agung the easternmost peak. Mount Batur (1,717 m) is also still active; an eruption 30,000 years ago was one of the largest known volcanic events on Earth. In the south the land descends to form an alluvial plain, watered by shallow, north-south flowing rivers, drier in the dry season and overflowing during periods of heavy rain. The longest of these rivers, Sungai Ayung, flows approximately 75 km.
The island is surrounded by coral reefs. Beaches in the south tend to have white sand while those in the north and west have black sand. The beach town of Padangbai in the south east has both Bali has no major waterways, although the Ho River is navigable by small sampan boats. Black sand beaches between Pasut and Klatingdukuh are being developed for tourism, but apart from the seaside temple of Tanah Lot, they are not yet used for significant tourism.The principal city is the provincial capital and largest city, Denpasar, near the southern coast. Its population is around 300,000. Bali's second-largest city is the old colonial capital, Singaraja, which is located on the north coast and is home to around 100,000 people. Other important cities include the beach resort, Kuta, which is practically part of Denpasar's urban area; and Ubud, which is north of Denpasar, and is known as the island's cultural centre.

Three small islands lie to the immediate south east of Bali and all are administratively part of the Klungkung regency of Bali: Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. These islands are separated from Bali by the Badung Strait.
To the east, the Lombok Strait separates Bali from Lombok and marks the biogeographically division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia. The transition is known as the Wallace Line, named after Alfred Russell Wallace, who first proposed a transition zone between these two major biomes. When sea levels dropped during the Pleistocene ice age, Bali was connected to Java and Sumatra and to the mainland of Asia and shared the Asian fauna, but the deep water of the Lombok Strait continued to keep Lombok and the Lesser Sunda archipelago isolated.


The Bali Starling lives only on Bali. As few as six may exist in the wild as of 2001.

Bali Island is situated on the border of the Wallace Line, where transition from the Asian wildlife and flora is made into the Pacific Islands biotope. Bali is virtually the southernmost island with specific Asian fauna and flora and with very few influences from the Pacific Islands like the Yellow-crested Cockatoo and other bird species occur. Bali has around 280 species of birds, including the critically endangered Bali Starling, one of the rarest birds in the world. Others are: Barn Swallow, Black-napped Oriole, Black Racket-tailed Tree pie, Crested Serpent-eagle, Crested Tree swift, Dollar bird, Java Sparrow, Lesser Adjutant, Long-tailed Shrike, Milky Stork, Pacific Swallow, Red-rump Swallow, Sacred Kingfisher, Sea Eagle, Wood swallow, Savanna Nightjar, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-vented Bulbul, White Heron, Great Egret. Until the beginning of the 20th century Bali used to be home to some large animals like wild the wild ox (Bos javanicus), Leopard (Felis pardus) and even the Bali tiger (Felis tigris balica), now extinct in the island. First still occur in its domestic form, while leopards only in neighboring Java, but the Bali Tiger has completely disappeared, with last recorded one in 1937, when last known specimen was shot. Due to the relative small size of the island and clashes with humans, along with poaching and habitat reduction has driven this unique feline to extinction. It was the smallest and rarest of all tiger species and never caught on film or displayed in zoos, few skins and bones remain in museums around the world as a testimony of its undisputed existence. Today, the largest animals remain the Java deer and the Wild Boar. The most impressive reptile remains the water monitor (Varanus salvator) who can grow to an impressive size and move surprisingly fast. Two species of deer occur in the island the smaller Muntjak and the larger Java deer. A variety of bird species including kingfisher occur in the island. Snakes are represented by green snakes and occasional king and pythons occurring around areas where mice and rats are present. Squirrels are quiet commonly encountered, more rare the Asian Palm Civet grown also in coffee farms to produce the expensive and controversial Kopi Luwak. Chiropterans are well represented, perhaps the most famous place to encounter them remains the Goa Lawah (Temple of the Bats) where they are worshipped by the locals and also constitute a tourist attraction, and other cave temples like Gangga Beach ones. Two species of primates occur in the island: the Crab-eating Macaque, known locally as “kera” quite common around human settlements or temples, where they became accustomed to people feeding them, particularly in any of the three so called “monkey forest” temples, with the most popular one in Ubud area. They are also quite often being kept as pets by locals. The second primate, far more rare and elusive is the Silver Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus cristatus] known locally as “lutung”. They occur virtually only in Bali Barat National Park, though in decent numbers. Other, rarer mammals include the Leopard Cat, Sunda Pangolin and Black Giant Squirrel. The rich coral reef around the coast Bali particularly around popular diving spots like Tulamben, Amed, Menjangan or neighboring Nusa Penida host a large amount of marine life, like Hawksbill Turtle, Giant Sunfish, Giant Manta Ray, Giant Moray Eel, Bump head Parrotfish, Hammerhead Sharks, Reef Sharks, Barracudas, Sea Snakes and so on. Dolphins are commonly encountered on the north coast near Singaraja and Lovina. Plant life is also fairly diverse and rich giving its excellent climate fairly hot and humid. Due to human influence many plants have been introduced by humans within the last centuries, particularly since 20th century, making it sometimes hard to distinguish what plants are really native. From the larger trees most common are: Banyan trees, Jackfruit, coconuts, bamboo species, acacia trees and also endless rows of coconuts and banana species. Numerous flowers can be seen: Hibiscus, frangipani, bougainvillea, poinsettia, oleander, jasmine, water lily, roses, begonias, orchids and hydrangeas exist. On higher grounds that receive more moisture, like around Kintamani, certain species of fern trees, mushrooms and even pine trees thrive well. Rice comes in many varieties. Other plants with agricultural value include: salak, mangos teen, corn, Kintamani orange, coffee and water spinach.

Administrative divisions

The province is divided into 8 regencies (kabupaten) and 1 city (kota). Unless otherwise stated, the regency's capital.


Rice terraces near Ubud until the late-twentieth century tourist boom, agriculture dominated Bali's economy

Three decades ago, the Balinese economy was largely agriculture-based in terms of both output and employment. Tourism is now the largest single industry; and as a result, Bali is one of Indonesia’s wealthiest regions. The economy, however, suffered significantly as a result of the terrorist bombings of 2002 and 2005. The industry is slowly recovering once again.
Although tourism produces the economy’s largest output, agriculture is still the island’s biggest employer, most notably rice cultivation. Crops grown in smaller amounts include fruit, vegetables, Coffee Arabica and other cash and subsistence crops. Fishing also provides a significant number of jobs. Bali is also famous for its artisans who produce a vast array of handicrafts, including batik and ikat cloth and clothing, wooden carvings, stone carvings, painted art and silverware. Notably, individual villages typically adopt a single product, such as wind chimes or wooden furniture. The Arabica coffee production region is the highland region of Kintamani near Mount Batur. Generally, Balinese coffee is processed using the wet method. This results in a sweet, soft coffee with good consistency. Typical flavors include lemon and other citrus notes. Many coffee farmers in Kintamani are members of a traditional farming system called Subak Abian, which is based on the Hindu philosophy of "Tri Hita Karana”. According to this philosophy, the three causes of happiness are good relations with God, other people and the environment. The Subak Abian system is ideally suited to the production of fair trade and organic coffee production. Arabica coffee from Kintamani is the first product in Indonesia to request a Geographical Indication.
Although significant tourism exists in the north, centre and east of the island, the tourist industry is overwhelmingly focused in the south. The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta (with its beach), and its outer suburbs (which were once independent townships) of Legian and Seminyak; the east coast town of Sanur (once the only tourist hub); to the south of the airport is Jimbaran; in the center of the island Ubud; and the newer development of Nusa Dua.
Another increasingly important source of income for Bali is what is called "Congress Tourism" from the frequent international conferences held on the island, especially after the terrorist bombings of 2002; ostensibly to resurrect Bali's damaged tourism industry as well as its tarnished image.
Bali's tourism economy has now recovered from the horrible terrorism incidents. 2008 saw a record number of foreign visitors, just fewer than 2 million. The American government lifted its travel warnings that year. As of 2009 the Australian government still rates it a 4 danger level (the same as several countries in central Africa) on a scale of 5. An offshoot of tourism is the growing real estate industry in Bali. Bali real estate has been rapidly developing in the main tourist districts of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Oberoi. Most recently, high end 5 star projects are under development on the Bukit peninsula on the south side of the island. Million dollar villas are springing up along the cliff sides of south Bali, commanding panoramic ocean views. Foreign and domestic (many Jakarta individuals and companies are fairly active) investment into other areas of the island also continues to grow. Land prices, despite the worldwide economic crisis have remained stable. In the last half of 2008, Indonesia's currency had dropped approximately 30% against the US dollar, providing many overseas visitors value for their currencies. Visitor arrivals for 2009 are forecast to drop 8% (which would be higher than 2007 levels).Bali's tourism brand is Bali Shanti Shanti Shanti. Shanti derived from Sanskrit "Shanti" which means peace.

Airports: The Ngurah Rai International Airport is located near Jimbaran, on the isthmus joining the southernmost part of the island to the main part of the island. Lt.Col. Wisnu Airfield is found in north-west Bali.
A coastal road surrounds the island, and three major two-lane arteries cross the central mountains at passes reaching to 1,750m in height (at Penelokan). The Ngurah Rai Bypass is a four-lane expressway that partly encircles Denpasar and enables cars to travel quickly in the heavily populated south. Bali has no railway lines.


The population of Bali is 3,151,000 (as of 2005).


Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, about 93.18% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, formed as a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. Minority religions include Islam (4.79%), Christianity (1.38%), and Buddhism (0.64%). These figures do not include immigrants from other parts of Indonesia.
Balinese Hinduism is an amalgam in which gods and demigods are worshiped together with Buddhist heroes, the spirits of ancestors, indigenous agricultural deities and sacred places. Religion as it is practiced in Bali is a composite belief system that embraces not only theology, philosophy, and mythology, but ancestor worship, animism and magic. It pervades nearly every aspect of traditional life. Balinese Hinduism has roots in Indian Hinduism and in Buddhism, and adopted the animistic traditions of the indigenous people. This influence strengthened the belief that the gods and goddesses are present in all things. Every element of nature, therefore, possesses its own power, which reflects the power of the gods. A rock, tree, dagger, or woven cloth is a potential home for spirits whose energy can be directed for good or evil. Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual, and is less preoccupied with scripture, law, and belief than Islam in Indonesia. Ritualized states of self-control are a notable feature of religious expression among the people, who for this reason have become famous for their graceful and decorous behavior.
Apart from the majority of Balinese Hindus, there also exist Chinese immigrants whose traditions have melded with that of the locals. As a result, these Sino-Balinese not only embrace their original religion, which is a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, but also find a way to harmonies it with the local traditions. Hence, it is not uncommon to find local Sino-Balinese during the local temple's odalan. Moreover, Balinese Hindu priests are invited to perform rites alongside a Chinese priest in the event of the death of a Sino-Balinese. Nevertheless, the Sino-Balinese claim to embrace Buddhism for administrative purposes, such as their Identity Cards.

Balinese and Indonesian are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and the vast majority of Balinese people are bilingual or trilingual. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership, but this tradition is diminishing. English is a common third language (and the primary foreign language) of many Balinese, owing to the requirements of the tourism industry.

Ogoh-ogoh monster in Ubud

Bali is renowned for its diverse and sophisticated art forms, such as painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. Balinese percussion orchestra music, known as gamelan, is highly developed and varied. Balinese performing arts often portray stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana but with heavy Balinese influence. Famous Balinese dances include pendet, legong, baris, topeng, barong, gong kebyar, and kecak (the monkey dance). Bali boasts one of the most diverse and innovative performing arts cultures in the world, with paid performances at thousands of temple festivals, private ceremonies, or public shows. The Hindu New Year, Nyepi, is celebrated in the spring by a day of silence. On this day everyone stays at home and tourists are encouraged to remain in their hotels. But the day before that large, colorful sculpture of ogoh-ogoh monsters are paraded and finally burned in the evening to drive away evil spirits. Other festivals throughout the year are specified by the Balinese pawukon cylindrical system.

Celebrations are held for many occasions such as a tooth-filing (coming-of-age ritual), cremation or odalan (temple festival). One of the most important concepts that Balinese ceremonies have in common is that of désa kala patra, which refers to how ritual performances must be appropriate in both the specific and general social context. Many of the ceremonial art forms such as wayang kulit and mask are highly improvisatory, providing flexibility for the performer to adapt the performance to the current situation. Many celebrations call for a loud, boisterous atmosphere with lots of activity and the resulting aesthetic, ramé, is distinctively Balinese. Oftentimes two or more gamelan ensembles will be performing well within earshot, and sometimes compete with each other in order to be heard. Likewise, the audiences members talk amongst themselves, get up and walk around, or even cheer on the performance, which adds to the many layers of activity and the liveliness typical of ramé. Kaja and kelod are the Balinese equivalents of North and South, which refer to ones orientation between the island’s largest mountain Gunung Agung (kaja), and the sea (kelod). In addition to spatial orientation, kaja and kelod have the connotation of good and evil; gods and ancestors are believed to live on the mountain whereas demons live in the sea. Buildings such as temples and residential homes are spatially oriented by having the most sacred spaces closest to the mountain and the unclean places nearest to the sea.

Most temples have an inner courtyard and an outer courtyard which are arranged with the inner courtyard furthest kaja. These spaces serve as performance venues since most Balinese rituals are accompanied by any combination of music, dance and drama. The performances that take place in the inner courtyard are classified as wali, the most sacred rituals which are offerings exclusively for the gods, while the outer courtyard is where bebali ceremonies are held, which are intended for gods and people. Lastly, performances meant solely for the entertainment of humans take place outside the walls of the temple and are called bali-balihan. This three-tiered system of classification was standardized in 1971 by a committee of Balinese officials and artists in order to better protect the sanctity of the oldest and most sacred Balinese rituals from being performed for a paying audience. Tourism, Bali’s chief industry, has provided the island with a foreign audience that is eager to pay for entertainment, thus creating new performance opportunities and more demand for performers. The impact of tourism is controversial since before it became integrated into the economy, the Balinese performing arts did not exist as a capitalist venture, and were not performed for entertainment outside of their respective ritual context. Since 1930's sacred rituals, such as Barong dance was done either in its original context, and to pay special tourists. This has led to new versions of many of these performances which have developed according to the preferences of foreign audiences; some villages have a barong mask specifically for non-ritual performances as well as an older mask which is only used for sacred performances.

The Balinese eat with their right hand, as the left is impure, a common belief throughout Indonesia. The Balinese do not hand or receive things with their left hand and would not wave at anyone with their left hand.

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