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Sneha Girap

Bali

Country  Indonesia
Founded  1343
Languages spoken  Indonesian, Balinese
Area  5,780.06 km2
Capital  Denpasar
Governor  I Made Mangku PastikaPD
Population  4.22 million (2012)
Colleges and Universities  Udayana University
Points of interest  Sanur - Bali, Seminyak, Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Ubud Monkey Forest
Destinations  Denpasar, Ubud, Kuta, Jimbaran, Padangbai

Bali is an island and province of Indonesia. The province includes the island of Bali and a few smaller neighbouring islands, notably Nusa Penida. It is located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. Its capital of Denpasar is located at the southern part of the island.

Map of Bali

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With a population of 3,890,757 in the 2010 census, and currently 4,225,000 as of January 2014, the island is home to most of Indonesias Hindu minority. According to the 2010 Census, 84.5% of Balis population adhered to Balinese Hinduism, 12% to Islam, and most of the remainder to Christianity.

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Bali is the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. The Indonesian International Film Festival is held every year in Bali. Since the late 20th century, the province has had a rise in tourism.

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Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species. In this area alone over 500 reef building coral species can be found. For comparison, this is about 7 times as many as in the entire Caribbean. There is a wide range of dive sites with high quality reefs, all with their own specific attractions. Many sites can have strong currents and swell, so diving without a knowledgeable guide is inadvisable. Most recently, Bali was the host of the 2011 ASEAN Summit, 2013 APEC and Miss World 2013.

History

Bali in the past, History of Bali

Bali was inhabited around 2000 BC by Austronesian people who migrated originally from Southeast Asia and Oceania through Maritime Southeast Asia. Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are closely related to the people of the Indonesian archipelago, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Oceania. Stone tools dating from this time have been found near the village of Cekik in the islands west.

Bali in the past, History of Bali

In ancient Bali, nine Hindu sects existed, namely Pasupata, Bhairawa, Siwa Shidanta, Waisnawa, Bodha, Brahma, Resi, Sora and Ganapatya. Each sect revered a specific deity as its personal Godhead.

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Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian, Chinese, and particularly Hindu culture, beginning around the 1st century AD. The name Bali dwipa ("Bali island") has been discovered from various inscriptions, including the Blanjong pillar inscription written by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 914 AD and mentioning "Walidwipa". It was during this time that the people developed their complex irrigation system subak to grow rice in wet-field cultivation. Some religious and cultural traditions still practised today can be traced to this period.

The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. When the empire declined, there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests, and musicians from Java to Bali in the 15th century.

Geography

Bali Beautiful Landscapes of Bali

The island of Bali lies 3.2 km (2 mi) east of Java, and is approximately 8 degrees south of the equator. Bali and Java are separated by the Bali Strait. East to west, the island is approximately 153 km (95 mi) wide and spans approximately 112 km (69 mi) north to south; administratively it covers 5,780 km2, or 5,577 km2 without Nusa Penida District, its population density is roughly 750 people/km2.

Bali Beautiful Landscapes of Bali

Balis central mountains include several peaks over 3,000 metres in elevation. The highest is Mount Agung (3,031 m), known as the "mother mountain" which is an active volcano. Mountains range from centre to the eastern side, with Mount Agung the easternmost peak. Balis volcanic nature has contributed to its exceptional fertility and its tall mountain ranges provide the high rainfall that supports the highly productive agriculture sector. South of the mountains is a broad, steadily descending area where most of Balis large rice crop is grown. The northern side of the mountains slopes more steeply to the sea and is the main coffee producing area of the island, along with rice, vegetables and cattle. The longest river, Ayung River, flows approximately 75 km.

The island is surrounded by coral reefs. Beaches in the south tend to have white sand while those in the north and west have black sand. Bali has no major waterways, although the Ho River is navigable by small sampan boats. Black sand beaches between Pasut and Klatingdukuh are being developed for tourism, but apart from the seaside temple of Tanah Lot, they are not yet used for significant tourism.

The largest city is the provincial capital, Denpasar, near the southern coast. Its population is around 491,500 (2002). Balis second-largest city is the old colonial capital, Singaraja, which is located on the north coast and is home to around 100,000 people. Other important cities include the beach resort, Kuta, which is practically part of Denpasars urban area, and Ubud, situated at the north of Denpasar, is the islands cultural centre.

Three small islands lie to the immediate south east and all are administratively part of the Klungkung regency of Bali: Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. These islands are separated from Bali by the Badung Strait.

To the east, the Lombok Strait separates Bali from Lombok and marks the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia. The transition is known as the Wallace Line, named after Alfred Russel Wallace, who first proposed a transition zone between these two major biomes. When sea levels dropped during the Pleistocene ice age, Bali was connected to Java and Sumatra and to the mainland of Asia and shared the Asian fauna, but the deep water of the Lombok Strait continued to keep Lombok Island and the Lesser Sunda archipelago isolated.

Economy

Three decades ago, the Balinese economy was largely agriculture-based in terms of both output and employment. Tourism is now the largest single industry in terms of income, and as a result, Bali is one of Indonesias wealthiest regions. In 2003, around 80% of Balis economy was tourism related. By end of June 2011, non-performing loan of all banks in Bali were 2.23%, lower than the average of Indonesian banking industry non-performing loan (about 5%). The economy, however, suffered significantly as a result of the terrorist bombings 2002 and 2005. The tourism industry has since recovered from these events.

Culture

Bali Culture of Bali

Bali is renowned for its diverse and sophisticated art forms, such as painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. Balinese cuisine is also distinctive. Balinese percussion orchestra music, known as gamelan, is highly developed and varied. Balinese performing arts often portray stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana but with heavy Balinese influence. Famous Balinese dances include pendet, legong, baris, topeng, barong, gong keybar, and kecak (the monkey dance). Bali boasts one of the most diverse and innovative performing arts cultures in the world, with paid performances at thousands of temple festivals, private ceremonies, or public shows.

Bali Culture of Bali

The Hindu New Year, Nyepi, is celebrated in the spring by a day of silence. On this day everyone stays at home and tourists are encouraged to remain in their hotels. On the day before New Year, large and colourful sculptures of ogoh-ogoh monsters are paraded and finally burned in the evening to drive away evil spirits. Other festivals throughout the year are specified by the Balinese pawukon calendrical system.

Celebrations are held for many occasions such as a tooth-filing (coming-of-age ritual), cremation or odalan (temple festival). One of the most important concepts that Balinese ceremonies have in common is that of désa kala patra, which refers to how ritual performances must be appropriate in both the specific and general social context. Many of the ceremonial art forms such as wayang kulit and topeng are highly improvisatory, providing flexibility for the performer to adapt the performance to the current situation. Many celebrations call for a loud, boisterous atmosphere with lots of activity and the resulting aesthetic, ramé, is distinctively Balinese. Often two or more gamelan ensembles will be performing well within earshot, and sometimes compete with each other to be heard. Likewise, the audience members talk amongst themselves, get up and walk around, or even cheer on the performance, which adds to the many layers of activity and the liveliness typical of ramé.

Kaja and kelod are the Balinese equivalents of North and South, which refer to ones orientation between the islands largest mountain Gunung Agung (kaja), and the sea (kelod). In addition to spatial orientation, kaja and kelod have the connotation of good and evil; gods and ancestors are believed to live on the mountain whereas demons live in the sea. Buildings such as temples and residential homes are spatially oriented by having the most sacred spaces closest to the mountain and the unclean places nearest to the sea.

Most temples have an inner courtyard and an outer courtyard which are arranged with the inner courtyard furthest kaja. These spaces serve as performance venues since most Balinese rituals are accompanied by any combination of music, dance and drama. The performances that take place in the inner courtyard are classified as wali, the most sacred rituals which are offerings exclusively for the gods, while the outer courtyard is where bebali ceremonies are held, which are intended for gods and people. Lastly, performances meant solely for the entertainment of humans take place outside the walls of the temple and are called bali-balihan. This three-tiered system of classification was standardised in 1971 by a committee of Balinese officials and artists to better protect the sanctity of the oldest and most sacred Balinese rituals from being performed for a paying audience.

Tourism, Balis chief industry, has provided the island with a foreign audience that is eager to pay for entertainment, thus creating new performance opportunities and more demand for performers. The impact of tourism is controversial since before it became integrated into the economy, the Balinese performing arts did not exist as a capitalist venture, and were not performed for entertainment outside of their respective ritual context. Since the 1930s sacred rituals such as the barong dance have been performed both in their original contexts, as well as exclusively for paying tourists. This has led to new versions of many of these performances which have developed according to the preferences of foreign audiences; some villages have a barong mask specifically for non-ritual performances as well as an older mask which is only used for sacred performances.

Balinese society continues to revolve around each familys ancestral village, to which the cycle of life and religion is closely tied. Coercive aspects of traditional society, such as customary law sanctions imposed by traditional authorities such as village councils (including "kasepekang", or shunning) have risen in importance as a consequence of the democratisation and decentralisation of Indonesia since 1998.

Balinese cuisine

Bali Cuisine of Bali, Popular Food of Bali

Balinese cuisine is a cuisine tradition of Balinese people from the volcanic island of Bali. Balinese Cuisine is one of the most complex cuisines in the world. Using an incredible variety of spices, blended with the fresh vegetables, meat and fish. Part of Indonesian cuisine, it demonstrates indigenous traditions, as well as influences from other Indonesian regional cuisine, Chinese and Indian. The islands inhabitants are predominantly Hindu and culinary traditions are somewhat distinct with the rest of Indonesia, with festivals and religious celebrations including many special foods prepared as the offerings for the deities, as well as other dishes consumed communally during the celebrations.

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Rice is almost always consumed as a staple accompanied with vegetables, meat and seafood. Pork, chicken, fruit, vegetables and seafood are widely utilized, however just like most of Hindus, beef is never or rarely consumed.

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Bali is a popular tourist destination, and the area has quite a lot of cooking schools with daily courses of Balinese cuisine. Night markets, warungs (food stands), and fruit vendors sell local delicacies. Festivals include ornately prepared foods as part of the celebrations. As a popular tourist area, many westernized foods are also available as well as other regional ethnic cuisines.

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Bali has a strong rice agriculture traditions in Indonesia, as evidence through centuries old intricate network of sophisticated Subak irrigation system. The Balinese water temples regulates the water allocation of each villages ricefields in the region. Balinese Hinduism revered Dewi Sri as an important rice goddess. Her and other deities colorful effigies made from colorful sticky rice are often made during religious ceremonies.

Basa gede, also known as basa rajang, is a spice paste that is a basic ingredient in many Balinese dishes. Basa gede form the cornerstone of many Balinese dishes. Its ingredients include garlic, red chili peppers, Asian shallots, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, palm sugar, cumin, shrimp paste and salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaf).

References

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