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This article is about Bali, the Indonesian island. For other uses of Bali, see Bali (disambiguation).

Map showing Bali within Indonesia
Map showing Bali within Indonesia
Bali's Sanur Beach
Bali's Sanur Beach

Bali is an Indonesian island. It is located in a chain with Java to the west and Lombok to the east. The island is a popular tourist destination and known, along with Java, for its individual style of music, especially that played on the gamelan.



Bali is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands, 153 km long and 112 km wide (95 by 69 miles), and 3.2 km east of Java. It lies about 8 degrees south of the equator. Its surface is 5,700 km². The highest point of the island is Mount Agung, 3,148 m high (10,308 feet), an active volcano that last erupted in March 1963. Mountains range from the central to the eastern side of the island with Mount Agung being the easternmost peak. Mount Batur, or what remains of it, is also still active. About 30,000 years ago Mount Batur experienced a massive catastrophic eruption — one of the largest known volcanic events on Earth.

The principal cities are the northern port of Singaraja and the capital, Denpasar, near the southern coast. The town of Ubud (north of Denpasar), with its art market , museums and galleries, is regarded as the cultural center of Bali.

In the south the land descends to form an alluvial plain, watered by shallow rivers, dry in the dry season and overflowing whenever there are periods of heavy rains.

Its 3 million population is mainly (about 90%) Hindu, but a very small part is Muslim (the fishers on the coast).

The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta (along with its accompanying beach), Sanur , Jimbaran , Seminyak and the newer development of Nusa Dua . 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.

There are no railway lines on the island. There are major coastal roads as well as roads that cross the island mainly in a north-south manner. Due to the slope of the mountainous terrain in the island's center, the roads tend to follow the crests of the ridges across the mountains.

The island is surrounded by coral reefs. Beaches in the south tend to have white sand while those in the north tend to have black sand.

Most of the Balinese people are involved in agriculture, primarily that of rice cultivation. Other crops such as fruits, vegetables and other cash crops are also grown, although in smaller amounts. A significant number of Balinese are also fishermen. Bali is also famous for its artisans who produce batik and ikat cloth and clothing, wooden carvings, stone carvings and silverware.


The Balinese people are descendants of a prehistoric race who migrated through mainland Asia to the Indonesian archipelago , presumably first settling around 2500 BC. The end of the prehistoric period in Indonesia was marked by the arrival of the Hindu people arriving from India around 100 BC as determined by Brahmi inscriptions on potsherds.

The name Balidwipa has been discovered from various inscriptions, among others the Blanjong charter which was issued by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 913 AD and mentions the word "Walidwipa ".

The Hindu Majapahit Empire (12931520 AD) on Eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. The Majapahit empire collapsed slightly before 1500, due to Muslim assaults, causing an exodus to Bali.

Europeans first discovered the island when the Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman arrived in 1597, though a Portuguese ship had foundered off the coast of Bukit as early as 1585. The Dutch established a trade post soon after, and the Dutch East India Company (VOC) started trading from early 17th century onwards. Dutch control of the island was firmly established after a series of colonial wars (18461849).

These wars were so fierce (with the entire royal court of the Raja, women and children plunged into battle, armed with kris and spears, killing each other on the battlefield rather than be taken captive) that the Dutch governors afterwards exercised a lenient control, showing great respect for and protecting the local religion and culture.

International tourism started in the 1920s. Bali's beaches are famous worldwide. Its arts and crafts are also popular. Balinese dance is highly developed, (much more so than European Ballet) and considered by many to be one of the world's finest artistic traditions. "Pendet","Legong " and "Baris" are some of the better-known examples.

Bali became part of the Republic of East Indonesia after the World War II Japanese conquest and part of United States of Indonesia in 1948.

On October 12, 2002, the island was the location of a car bomb attack aimed at Western tourists in the popular Kuta Beach part of the island.


Bali is a richly diverse island of approx. 3.1 million people.


Unlike most of Islam-majority Indonesia, the majority of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, formed from a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Adherents of several other religions are also present on Bali:


Balinese and Indonesian are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and many Balinese people are bilingual or even trilingual. English is a common third language owing to the island's large tourism industry.

The Balinese language is a rich and diverse language reflecting the population. In the past, the language has been heavily influenced by the Balinese caste system, but this is becoming less and less pronounced.

See also

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Last updated: 08-17-2005 14:50:34
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13