Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bali Island

Bali is an Indonesian island located at Coordinates: 8°25′23″S 115°14′55″E / 8.42306°S 115.24861°E / -8.42306; 115.24861the 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 3,551,000 in 2009, the island is home to most of Indonesia's small Hindu minority. Approximately 93.18% of the population profess the Hindu Balinese Balinese, while most follow the religion of Islam. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is known as a very advanced developments in the arts, including dance, music, painting, leather, and other crafts.


Bali was inhabited by Austronesian peoples by about 2000 BC who migrated originally from Taiwan through Maritime Southeast Asia. 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 Cornelis 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 1,000 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. 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.

Imperial Japan occupied Bali during World War II during which time a Balinese military officer, Gusti Ngurah Rai, formed a Balinese 'freedom army'. The lack of institutional changes from the time of Dutch rule however, and the harshness of war requisitions made Japanese rule little better than the Dutch one.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 Marga Rana, 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 State 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 recognised 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 instigateda 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% 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 another in 2005, severely affected tourism, bringing 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. Bali and Java are separated by Bali Strait. 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, Ayung River, 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[citation needed]. 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 largest city is the provincial capital, 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 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 biogeographical 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 Russel 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.


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-naped Oriole, Black Racket-tailed Treepie, Crested Serpent-eagle, Crested Treeswift, Dollarbird, Java Sparrow, Lesser Adjutant, Long-tailed Shrike, Milky Stork, Pacific Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Sacred Kingfisher, Sea Eagle, Woodswallow, Savanna Nightjar, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-vented Bulbul, White Heron, Great Egret.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, Bali was home to some large animals such as the wild Banteng, Leopard and even the Bali tiger. The first still occurs 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 Javan Rusa deer and the Wild Boar. The water monitor can grow to an impressive size and move surprisingly quickly. Two species of deer occur in the island the smaller Muntjak and the larger Javan Rusa deer.

Snakes are represented by green snakes and occasional king and pythons occurring around areas where mice and rats are present. Squirrels are quite commonly encountered, more rare the Asian Palm Civet grown also in coffee farms to produce the expensive and controversial Kopi Luwak. Chiropteras 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 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, Bumphead 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, mangosteen, corn, Kintamani orange, coffee and water spinach.

Place to visit in Bali

Bali DewisriThere are a lot of places one can visit in Bali. The places of interest are Sanur Beach and Kuta Beach, Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Ubud, Goa gajah, Klungkung etc.

The beach Sanur has a lot of myths and legends associated with it. It is more of a spot related to legends rather than an attraction for its unique beauty. The white sand of the Kuta beach is quite an attraction. Besakih is said to be the holiest temple in Bali. Then there is the beautiful Mount Batur with a lake of its own.

Tourists find Bali to be very attractive and interesting mainly because of the various activities that goes on here. Among these bungee jumping is a favorite.

The thrill of jumping from the highest spots is just beyond words. There is also a waterfall jump in Bali which gets the adrenalin pumping. Paragliding is another such activity in which tourists take part. Swimming and surfing is of course a regular activity at the various beaches of Bali. One can even go scuba diving in Bali but it is pretty expensive. It is made sure that all the activities are safe and at the same time very exciting. Windsurfing, waterskiing, jet skiing - everything can be done over here. Bali is the place where every adventurer would want to be. It offers the experience of a lifetime.

Transportation on Bali

The various modes of transportation over here are the taxis, buses and bemos. At times the place is so over crowded with foreigners and tourists that one faces a lot of traffic. Bali is certainly one of those places where a globe-trotter wants to be at least once.

Accommodations in Bali

Bali has a huge supply of accommodations from small guesthouses to luxury resorts. One option would be is rent a private villa or a house with a private pool. For a list of resorts on Bali, please visit our Bali Accommodations website.

Residential Calculator for Bali

Expatriates or overseas property investors that would like to purchase or rent a property in Bali, should try our Property Residential Calculator for Bali.