Bali is a land that seems to have a magnet at its very heart. It is a feeling that is difficult to understand unless experienced but once visited you are surely compelled to come back and you may even want to stay forever, such is its pull. Maybe its Bali’s beauty, maybe the friendly people, or maybe even the influence from spirits that certainly abide in this place.
Bali goes under many names. Some call it the ‘island of the gods’, others Shangri-La. The ‘last paradise’, the ‘dawning of the world’ and the ‘centre of the universe’ are yet more names for this truly beautiful tropical island inhabited by a remarkably artistic people who have created a dynamic society with unique arts and ceremonies.
Bali is small, just 140 Km by 80 Km and lies between Java, the most highly populated and influential of all the islands, and Lombok, one of the quieter and moderately slower paced islands. Like many islands, Bali has developed a world of its own. It not only captures what is special about Indonesia but also has a uniqueness of its own.
Daily life on Bali is culturally linked to satisfying and appeasing the gods, spirits and demons in the midst of breathtaking panoramas of cultivated rice terraces, impressive volcanoes and pristine beaches. Bali’s main volcano, Gunung Agung, is still active and sometimes explosive and is considered sacred among local people as it is believed to be the centre of the universe.
Lying just 8o south of the Equator, Bali can boast a tropical climate with just two seasons a year and an average temperature of around 28o Celsius. It has a whole range of different environments and activities for the tourist.
Economically and culturally, Bali is one of the most important islands of Indonesia. Rice is grown on irrigated, terraced hillsides; other crops include sugar cane, coffee, copra, tobacco, fruits and vegetables. Cattle and hogs are also raised. The Balinese are skilled artisans, particularly in woodcarving and in fashioning objects of tortoiseshell and of gold, silver and other metals. The Balinese are noted for their traditional dance, the distinctive music of the gamelan and for their skills in weaving cloth of gold and silver threads, Songket, as well as for embroidering silk and cotton clothing.
Bali of today is one of the twenty six provinces of the Republic of Indonesia, divided administratively between eight districts that take their names and boundaries from the island’s old Hindu kingdoms.