Bali is an island and the smallest province in Indonesia. As a province Bali includes the main island and a few small neighbouring islands such as Nusa Penida. Bali has an area of some 5,780 Km2 and a population of about 4,220,000. The capital of Bali is Denpasar and it is known by several different nicknames, Island of Peace, Morning of the World, Island of Gods, Island of Hinduism and the Island of Love.
Bali lies 3.2km east of Java and is about 8 degrees south of the equator. East to West the island is approximately 153 km wide and spans approximately 112km north to south. Peaks in the islands center reach over 3,000 meters, the highest being Mount Agung known as the mother mountain which is an active volcano. The islands volcanic nature has contributed to its exceptional fertility along with high rainfall that supports a highly productive agriculture sector.
The island is surrounded by coral reefs, the beaches in the south of the island have white sand, while those in the north are black. There are no major waterways in Bali, however the Ho River is navigable by small boats.
In terms of the ethnic demographic, the Balinese people make up around 89% of the population, Javanese 7%, Baliaga 1% and Madurese 1%. 84% of the population are Hindu and 13.3% are Muslim, the remainder are generally either Buddhists or Christians.
The official language is Indonesian, although Balinese and English are both widely spoken.
A popular haven for tourist for many decades, Bali was first inhabited around 2000 BC by Austronesian people who migrated from Southeast Asia and Oceania. Linguistically and culturally the Balinese are closely related to the people of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The first European contact with Bali is thought to have been in 1585 when a Portuguese ship foundered off the Bukit Peninsula. In 1597 Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman arrived and with the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602 the stage was set for two and a half centuries of Dutch control. Dutch political and economic control over Bali began in the 1840’s in the north and by the late 1890’s struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control. During World War II Imperial Japan occupied Bali. Following Japan’s Pacific surrender in August 1945 the Dutch returned to Indonesia, including Bali and reinstated their pre-war colonial administration. Bali was included in the “Republic of the United States of Indonesia” when the Netherlands recognised Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949.
The tourism industry in Bali is largely focused on the south of the island, as well as other significant parts of the island. The main attractions include Kuta with its white beach and outer suburbs of Legian and Seminyak, which were once independent townships and the town of Sanur once the only tourist hub. Other popular areas include Ubud in the centre of the island and to the south Jimbaran and the newer developments of Nusa, Dua and Pecatu.
As well as tourism Bali has a thriving real estate industry that has been rapidly developing in Katu, Legian, Seminyak and Oberoi and many 5 star projects are under development in the Bukit peninsula in the south of the island.
Multi-million dollar villas have been developed along Bali’s southern cliffs and beaches making it a highly popular holiday destination as guests can rent these villas through Mambo Retreats
Bali is a fascinating place to visit with a rich history, a distinctive cuisine, art forms such as painting, sculpture, woodcarvings and handcrafts and it boasts one of the most diverse and innovative performing art cultures in the world with paid performances at thousands of temple festivals and public shows.