History, Culture, and Overview
Bali: Island of the Gods, The Morning of the World, a mystical place that evokes different visions for all that have experienced it, and for those that have only heard the name. An island that encompasses many diverse regions and styles – regions of untouched beauty, traditional villages, heaving and raucous budget-traveler districts, resort areas, playgrounds for the rich and famous, and many little hideaways all combine to form the identity that is Bali. Though not untouched by the impact of being a popular tourist destination, Bali has successfully managed to accommodate its many foreign visitors whilst maintaining its own rich culture. Located in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago with close proximity to Australia, Bali is an island of approximately two thousand square miles, dominated by the volcanic mountainous areas in its center. Its rich soil and numerous water sources have resulted in a lush and verdant foliage cover, interspersed with extensive rice paddy terraces crafted over generations by farmers. While the Balinese economy incorporates a fishing industry as well as tourism, it is largely an agricultural society, with a culture that is very much reflected in their connection to the earth.
Historically, Bali was a collection of independent kingdoms, before being brought under Dutch colonial control in the 19th century and incorporated into what was then the Dutch East Indies. In 1948, shortly after WWII, Bali, along with the rest of the country, achieved independence from Holland and become a part of Indonesia.
Having been a tourist destination since the early 1900’s, Bali is accustomed to playing host to visitors from all over the world. This is expressed in the numerous facilities and activities for tourists on the island, along with the famed Balinese smile accompanying their friendly, relaxed, and personable demeanor.
The island has a population of approximately three million people, over 90% of which subscribe to a particular offshoot of the Hindu religion. This differentiates Bali from the rest of Indonesia, which is predominantly Muslim. Religion plays a major role in the daily life of the Balinese. Colorful religious ceremonies are frequent at the numerous temples, large and small, dotted all over the island; and it is rare for a visitor to Bali not to see at least one during their stay. Every home contains a small temple for devotions, and offerings to the Gods are visible wherever one goes. It is said that there are in excess of thirty thousand temples in Bali.