Bali Island

Bali Island


Description of  Bali Island

Bali is an island in the Malay archipelago, in the group of the Lesser Sunda Islands, as part of the province of the same name in Indonesia. It is washed from the south by the Indian Ocean, from the north by the sea of ​​Bali of the Pacific Ocean. It is separated from the west by the Strait of the same name from Java Island, from the east by the Lombok Strait from Lombok Island.

The area of ​​the island is 5780 km², its length is 145 km from east to west and 80 km from north to south. The so-called Wallace line, stretching east from Bali and Lombok Island, serves as the boundary between the flora and fauna of tropical Asia and the natural areas of Australia and New Guinea.




Bali is the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands, which also includes the islands of Nusa Tenggara (Indonesian: “Southeast Islands”). Bali lies in the Indian Ocean between the islands of Java to the west and Lombok to the east. Bali is separated from Java by the 2.5 km wide Bali Strait, and from Lombok by the minimally 19 km wide Lombok Strait. The north-south extent of the island of Bali is 95 km, from its western tip to its eastern tip it measures 145 km.

The province extends between 114º25′53″ and 115º42′40″ E. L. and between 08º03′40″ and 08º50′48″ S. Br.

Bali is considered a relatively young island. The island is only separated from the Malaysian mainland by three relatively shallow seaways. These have repeatedly dried up over time, so that the fauna and flora of Bali do not differ very much from the Malaysian mainland. The so-called Wallace Line runs in the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok. This is the biogeographical dividing line between Asian and Australian flora and fauna. This strait is up to 1000 meters deep and has existed for a long time, so the flora and fauna of the two neighboring islands differ greatly.

Most of Bali's mountains are of volcanic origin and cover around three quarters of the entire island area. The Gunung Agung (“Big Mountain”) volcano is the highest mountain on the island at 3,142 meters. For the Balinese it is the seat of the gods. It is also the pole of the Balinese coordinate system. The penultimate eruption in 1963 claimed 2,000 lives and devastated numerous villages and fields. It last erupted in 2018. To the west of Agung is the huge, ten kilometer wide volcanic crater of the Batur massif, with the edge cone of Gunung Abang (2153 m) as the highest elevation. The interior of the crater is filled by the young cone of Gunung Batur (1717 m), which was active four times in the 20th century, and by the crater lake Danau Batur.

The reason for the volcanic activity is the subduction of the Sahul Plate (part of the Australian Plate) under the Sunda Plate (part of the Eurasian Plate). It is also responsible for volcanism on the neighboring islands to the east and west. These, like Bali, are part of the so-called Sunda Arc, a volcanic island arc that is generally typical of ocean-ocean subduction zones. South of the Sunda Arc, the sea floor slopes towards the Sunda Trench. Such deep-sea trenches are also typical of subduction zones.



Bali is the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. A mountain range stretches from west to east of Bali - a zone of high volcanic activity. Two large active volcanoes Agung (3142 m) and Gunung Batur (1717 m) are located in the north-eastern part of the island. Volcanic activity determines the high fertility of soils and affects the development of culture. The major eruptions of the Gunung Batura and Agung volcanoes that occurred in 1963 led to numerous casualties, devastated the eastern regions of the island, forcing many Balinese to emigrate.

Among other mountain peaks are the highest Batukau (2278 m) and Abang (2152 m). This mountain range with a limestone plateau located in the south, which is called "bukit" - hills, divides the island into two completely different regions. Northern quite rises from a narrow coastline to the mountain slopes. The climate here is relatively dry, conducive to breeding a coffee culture. In this part of Bali there are two rivers irrigating rice fields around Singaraja and Seririta. The southern region is a terrace stretching from north to south on which rice is grown. Numerous rivers flow along gorges with lush vegetation. Southwest are small, well-irrigated areas of land and arid lands of coconut plantations.



The climate in Bali is equatorial-monsoon, instead of the usual dividing into 4 seasons, only two are distinguished here: dry (June – October) and humid (November – March); the greatest amount of precipitation falls in January – February. In some areas of Bali, the difference between them is almost imperceptible. During the wet season, precipitation occurs locally, usually at night in the form of short-term (1-2 hours) thunderstorms.

The average annual temperatures fluctuate slightly around 26 ° C. In the lowlands and resort areas it is warm day and night; the mountains are pretty cool nights, and generally fresher than the rest of the territory. The water temperature in the ocean is 26–28 ° C.


Flora and fauna

In Bali, 4 types of forests grow: tropical moist evergreen in the west, deciduous in the northwest in hard-to-reach areas, savannah forests and mountain forests. Wet evergreen forests are represented in the Bali-Barat park (translated as “western Bali”). Here you can find rare species of plants, huge century-old trees, which are under protection. Many plants of the ficus family, fig and banana groves. Deciduous forests grow in the northwestern part of Bali. They change their foliage depending on the season, among this flora sapot trees predominate. Mountain vegetation is rarely located above 1500 m above sea level; these are mainly casuarins and phylaos. Banana plants in Bali are sacred, they grow very well, propagated by the roots, and feed many animals: monkeys, squirrels, bats. A rare cave crab Karstama balicum is listed in the IUCN International Red Book. Palm trees are especially well represented in Bali. The leaves of borassic palms, dried and pressed, go to the manufacture of "lontars" on which they write sacred texts. From the leaves of sugar palm trees make bouquets that are brought to the temples as ritual offerings. There are other types of trees, for example, ebony, or ebony, as well as balsa, extremely lightweight - a convenient material for traditional masks. There are many bamboo trees, some species of which reach 30-40 cm in diameter. They can be found almost throughout the island, bamboo is also a universal building material for the Balinese.

Garden architecture has become a real industry. An abundance of labor and fertile soil, on which everything that is planted easily takes root, contributes to the development of gardening, especially in the south of the island and in the Bedugul area. Red, pink and white hibiscus, jasmine, bougainvillea, white and pink laurels, water lilies, lotuses and quite exotic plants such as angsoca, champaka (yellow magnolia), manori and orchids.



After the recognition of independence, tourism was rather poorly developed, and the infrastructure was in its infancy. Even during the hippies that flocked here from around the world, there were only small bungalows without electricity on the beaches of Kuta, cheap rooms without amenities and seafood for a few cents. Nevertheless, in Sanur, tour operators have already mastered tourism for the rich. The Indonesian government, whose economy was very dependent on oil exports, needed to find other sources of income, and it greatly contributed to the development of the tourism industry.

At first, these efforts were aimed at changing in the eyes of the entire world community the unsightly image that had strengthened behind the ruling elite of Indonesia after the military coup.

A professional analysis of the situation in Bali and a tourism development plan was made in 1969. The project was funded by the UN under the guarantee of the World Bank. Particular emphasis was placed on the Bukit Badung area. In 1978, the Balinese governor Ida Bagus Mantra invited interested parties to pay attention to the island’s rich culture. Since that time, music, dancing, religious holidays, sculpture and painting play the same role in the tourism business as the continuous improvement of infrastructure. The airport was reconstructed, luxury hotels and modest inexpensive hotels are being built to cover the entire social spectrum of travel lovers. Rice fields are being drained and water pipelines are being built in the driest regions. Replaced inexpensive came elite tourism. Now, world-famous stars come to Sanur at a wedding ceremony, and European ministers spend their holidays at the Mediterranean Club in Nusa Dua.

The development of surfing, diving, environmental and beach tourism.

The number of tourists visiting Bali is growing rapidly. In 2015, 4,001,835 foreign tourists visited Bali. In 2018, the number of tourists increased to 6 511 610 people. Each year, the flow increases by about 10%.



The first immigrants are believed to be people from southern India who arrived in Bali around 1500 BC. The first kingdom is documented for 990 AD. In 1478, the Hindu upper class of the Majapahit Empire moved from Java to Bali, displaced by Islam. The king of the resulting dynasty (Gelgel dynasty) ruled Bali from Klungkung. In the period that followed, the provinces of Bali became independent. Their rulers, the Rajas, now became kings of their own kingdoms. The Dutch occupied Bali in stages from 1846 to 1908. Faced with the unstoppable invaders, the Rajas of Denpasar and Pemecutan nevertheless refused to submit. They burned down their palaces and marched into the hail of bullets from the colonial power in their finest clothes with their families, court, priests and warriors. 4,000 Balinese people died. The rule of the Dutch lasted until 1942. During this time, the opium monopoly provided the Dutch state with income that significantly exceeded the expenses for the conquest and maintenance of the colony.

The island was then annexed by Japan until 1945. On August 17, 1945, Indonesia was proclaimed. Bali has been part of the country ever since.

In 1963, Gunung Agung erupted, killing thousands. Economic chaos followed, prompting many Balinese to relocate to other parts of Indonesia.

General Suharto's leadership brought a wave of violence to Bali in 1965. The victims were the members of the Communist Party (PKI) and minorities, especially the economically successful Chinese immigrants. Ordinary civilians took part in the massacres.

On October 12, 2002, 202 people were killed in bomb attacks on two nightclubs in Kuta. Three years later, on Saturday, October 1, 2005, three explosive devices exploded, killing 26 people. There were 122 injured, including two German nationals. Two of the bombs exploded on Jimbaran Beach and another exploded in front of a restaurant in Kuta Beach. The police assume suicide attacks and suspect the radical Islamist organization Jemaah Islamiyah was behind the attack.

The traditional structures of Bali are based on three groups, which ensure that no isolated units (except the Bali Aga) can form:
the Banjar as the lowest administrative unit on a geographical level
the Subak for determining the irrigation modalities of the rice fields
the Pemaksan to regulate religious rituals

These have higher levels that are structured in a self-similar way. The administrations of the Rajas (kings) used to be supplementary and partly complementary, and their place is now taken by the Indonesian state.


Political structure

When Indonesia was founded in 1945, Bali was part of the Nusa Tenggara Barat province. Since August 14, 1959, it has been one of the 34 provinces of the republic together with its immediate neighboring islands (see location). All of Indonesia's provincial regions are administered by a governor who reports directly to the president. The governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster since 2018, is based in the capital Denpasar. The province of Bali is (since 1992) divided into eight kabupaten (government districts) and one kota (the city district of Denpasar), whose bupati (district council) or walikota (mayor) report to the governor. These Kabupaten are divided into 57 Kecamatan (districts). The number of desa (villages) has remained unchanged since 2011 and is 716. They are each governed by a kepala desa (village head). The villages, in turn, are divided into banjars (village districts), which are administered by a klian.

The addition adat means traditional, i.e. Balinese-Hindu. A few villages deliberately remain in the cultural stage before Hindu influence. These are mainly in the east and on Lake Batur. They are called Bali Aga (Old Bali). There are also individual kampung islam, places with an Islamic population, and desa kristen, with a Christian population.




Bali is the only region outside of India, Nepal and Mauritius with a Hindu majority. Most Balinese adhere to the Hindu Dharma religion, the Balinese form of Hinduism. Hinduism came to Bali in the 8th to 9th centuries. Religious rites and festivals accompany people from birth to death and beyond death. They are the basis of the cohesion of the family and the village community. Religious rites become effective in the founding of a village, they regulate family life and are the ethical guidelines of the entire people. Holidays, popular entertainments and gatherings are always preceded by a temple ceremony.

Bali is called the “Island of a Thousand Temples”. Each Hindu banyar is home to three temples: the Pura Puseh (Temple of Origin), the Pura Desa (Temple of the Great Council) and the Pura Dalem (Temple of Death). In some villages, Pura Puseh and Pura Desa are combined in one temple complex. Such temples are usually elaborately designed, even in remote regions, and are hardly inferior to the island's important temples in terms of design effort. In addition, every house and every subak has its own temple and at prominent points (road intersections, town entrances, banyan trees, etc.) there are small temples or at least an offering box, which in extreme cases can be a simple stone.


Traditional ideas and practices

In addition to the predominant Hinduism, animistic traditions of the old ethnic religions still determine the entire religious life of the island. According to this, gods are present in all appearances. Everything in nature has its own power that reflects the power of the gods: rocks, trees, a dagger, even clothing can be inhabited by spirits whose power can be used for good or evil. Rituals play a major role and are far less determined by holy scriptures than, for example, Indonesian Islam. This ritualization of life and the self-control that goes with it is an essential part of the religious customs of the people. Particularly in the shadow play with the priestly figure of the Dalang, strong remnants of an old shamanism can still be seen, which can also be seen in initiation rituals, spiritual guides, healings, etc. The same applies to analogous ceremonies in Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand.

The underworld is in the sea, the gods live on the volcanoes and the ancestor cult is strong. There are thousands of healers and shamans who offer everything from healing to fortune telling to love spells. There is also a “white (good) and black (evil) shamanism”. The basic idea is always to restore the disturbed harmony within the universal polarity, which here, as in the other East Asian religions, is not seen as oppositional, but as complementary. Domestic sacrifice is common.


Buddhism in Bali

Only 0.68% of Balinese are Buddhist, most of whom come from China. There are five Buddhist temples in Bali, of which the Viharaya Dharmayana in Kuta is one of the most visited. It was founded in 1876.



The main languages spoken in Bali are Balinese (basa Bali) and Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia). As a non-Indonesian language, English is also widely spoken due to tourism. Depending on the main tourist origin on site, Dutch (Sanur), Japanese (Ubud) and occasionally German, Russian, Italian or French are also spoken, as long as this is necessary for dealing with tourists. In addition to the languages mentioned, Mandarin is also taught in private schools.

Marital status
Single 42.98%
Married 51.62%
Divorced 1.12%
Widowed 4.28%
Share of the total population.