Bali Travel Guide -> History of Bali


Only a few words can be said here on the history of the island. Bali was presumably first settled around 2500 BC and was reached by Hinduism around 400 AD and by Buddhism around 500 AD. Bali and West Java then underwent several episodes of conquering and being conquered by one another until the Dutch arrived and managed to establish themselves partially in Bali by the year 1850.

An important event in the of history of Bali is the landing of Dutch troops at Sanur beach in the year 2000 which led to the complete conquering of the island by the Dutch and the defeat and ritual suicide of some of the most prominent princely families. After the Japanese occupation during the Second World War from 1939 to 1945, Bali became a province of Indonesia, but managed to maintain a separate, specifically Balinese culture. For instance, the dominant religion in most parts of Indonesia is Islam, whereas in Bali it is Hinduism.

Geographically Bali is dominated by a number of volcanic mountains in the center of the island. The most active one of them is Gunung Agung whose violent eruption in 1963 killed a large number of people and caused a lot of devastation in the eastern parts of Bali. The island is ringed by coral reefs; the beaches in the south have white sand, the beaches in the east and north have black (volcanic) sand. Bali has a population of around 3 million. The predominant form of agriculture is wet-rice cultivation, but there are also large fruit plantations in the east of Bali, as well as corn fields or coffee plantations. The majority of the population is still made up of farmers, but tourism and associated businesses (such as manufacture and sales of souvenirs, etc.) are becoming more and more important. You should know that the economic circumstances and the standard of living of the largest part of the Balinese population are quite modest, and that a lot of people are, even by Indonesian standards, actually very poor.  

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Last Updated 02.01.2009