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ABOUT BALI INDONESIA - Geography, Climate, History, How To get to Bali

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, again and again Bali awarded as the most interesting Island by International Travel Magazine. In some cases however, there are still many people don’t know in deep about the uniqueness of Balinese culture. Life in Bali is always related to “Tri Hita Karana” or tri-partite concept that include the spiritual relationship between human and God, nature and with other human being.

With the rapid growth of development especially in tourism industry, has had a big impact and influences to Bali tradition and lifestyle. Interestingly, Balinese culture is still as what it was in heritage, grows along with the growth of globalization. And this civilization what makes Bali different from other tourist destination.

GEOGRAPHY
Among 17,500 islands across the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is one of the 33 provinces of the Republic of Indonesia, the largest archipelagic country in the world, made up of 2,000,000 km2 of land with a chain of islands stretching over 500,000 km from Sumatra to Papua, and covers territorial waters of more than 5,000,000 km2.
Situated between Java and Lombok, the island of Bali is located 8 to 9 degrees south of the equator with the Java Sea to the north, the Indian Ocean to the south. Bali’s covers an area of 5,636 km2 or 0.29% of Indonesia, measuring just 90km long the north-south axis and less than about 140km from west to east.
Divided into three areas of water, the North Bali Sea is about 3,168km2, the East about 3.350km2, and the West about 2,982km2. Bali Sea covers an area of 9,500km2. The North Bali sea runs along the coastline of Buleleng, the East Bali Sea runs along the coastline of Karangasem, Klungkung and Gianyar, and the West Bali Sea include the coastline of Badung Tabanan and Jembrana.

PEOPLE AND LIFE STYLE
Bali’s population of over 3,000,000 souls spread over the whole island, including those in the smaller islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan, Serangan and Menjangan Island. The overwhelming majority of Balinese are Hindus, with the increasing number on non-Hindu migrating from the closest neighboring islands of Java and Lombok.

The coastal areas in the south are the most populous area with over 370,000 people living in various professions in the capital of Denpasar. Farming has been the primary way of living in Balinese life. Where else fishing, trading and craftsmanship are also in fashion from generation to generation. Yet with the fast growing of tourism since past few decades, young people start to build up a new touch in their living culture.
Life in Bali is very communal under the organization of villages. Temple ceremonies, marriage, cremation, farming and even the creative art festivals are decided by the local community institution called “Banjar”. The responsibilities in the day-to-day life are normally administered by both the Banjar and the government. The local government mostly responsible for schools, health clinics, hospitals and roads, and Banjar is responsible for all other aspects of life. There is another association exists in the Banjar named “Subak” that concerns to the production of rice and organizes the complex irrigation system. Every family who owns a rice field must be a member of their local Subak, which then ensures that every member gets his fair distribution of water. A Banjar consists of an average of 50 to 150 family members, owning a meeting venue called the Bale Banjar, which is used for regular gatherings and a center for local gamelan orchestras and drama groups.

HOW TO GET TO BALI
With the increasing number of direct flight to Bali from some other parts of the world, it makes it easier to go to Bali. From Bali, flight to Jakarta is about 1.5 hours, to Singapore and Perth (Australia) 2.5 and 3 hours, to Hong Kong about 4.5 hours, and to Sydney/Melbourne about 5.5 to 6 hours, with various airlines offering their services. Please check at “airline info” for more information about flight schedules. Just make sure you look for “Denpasar (DPS)” instead of "Bali" in airline time tables. It is the capital of Bali. Or you can check your “Travel Agents” for more travel arrangements and accommodation.

CLIMATE
With sunshine shining throughout the year, Bali has a tropical monsoon climate, with pleasant day temperatures between 20 to 33 degrees Celsius or 68 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainy season starts from October to March, when the West monsoon brings heavy showers and high humidity. June to September is considered the driest season, with low humidity and it can be fairly cold in the evenings, the best time for any outdoor activities.

Something unique can be found about climate in Bali. Even when it rains most times in the most parts of Bali you can often enjoy sunny days on the "Bukit", the hill south of Jimbaran. On the other hand, you may expect cloudy skies and drips throughout the year in Ubud and the mountainous areas. Most interestingly perhaps, the international weather reports for "Denpasar" or "Bali" mention showers and rain storms all times of the year. In higher regions such as in Bedugul or Kintamani you'll expect to wear either a sweater or jacket when evening falls.

HISTORY
Bali has a long chain of history from the ice-age era (pre-historic time) to modern, global civilization era. With a dynamic characteristic indicating selectivity and flexibility, the Balinese culture initially reflects a configuration of an expressive culture dominated by religious, solidarity and aesthetic values. Nowadays, it develops along with the adoption of foreign values especially in the aspects of the economic, science and technology, as a result of the global modernization.

In general, the history of Bali is divided into three different eras including the pre-historic, the Hindu-Buddhist era and the modern culture.

The pre-historic marked the oldest and simplest way of life, an era of hunting and food-stuff gathering, verified by the discovery of several tools and hunting equipments. In the following era there were also building construction system and a particular communication system. These were just proofs of the existence and further development of Balinese culture. The Balinese culture flourished that nowadays one can indicates a perfect bonds between religions, tradition and culture to become the identity of the Balinese community.

The Dutch seamen were the first Europeans to arrive on Bali and started to introduce western culture in 1597, though they hadn’t discovered any appealing aspect until 1800s. Around 1846 the Dutch returned with colonization in their minds, having established a strong political base as majority of the Indonesian islands were under their control since the 1700s. The military campaign embarked from the northern coast of Bali. With the help of Sasak people of Lombok, by 1911, all Balinese principalities were under the Dutch control.

The sense of Indonesian nationalism began to grow after the World War I, with the young generation declaring the national language in 1928, known as Bahasa Indonesia. During the height of World War II the Japanese arrived, expelling the Dutch and ruled the country for about 3.5 years, which ended later in 1945 when Indonesia declared independent led by its very first president, Sukarno. Yet the new-born nation was only recognized by the international community as an independent country in 1949

FLORA AND FAUNA

Flora
Just like common tropical islands, in Bali you will find a wide variety of plants by surprise. Huge banyan trees are everywhere in the villages by the Bale banjar or pavilion, or temples ground. Tamarind is also a typical Balinese tree mostly found in the north coast, as well as clove at the highlands. Meanwhile acacia, flame tree and mangrove can be found along the south coastlines. Craft and house use basketries, a dozen species of coconut palms and varieties of bamboos are also everywhere across the island.

Flowers families are just as surprisingly as the variety of big plants. The most common are hibiscus, bougainvillea, jasmine, and water lilies. Magnolia, frangipani, and a variety of orchids are found in many front yards and gardens, along roads, and in temple grounds. In the day to day life flowers are routinely used as decorations in temples, on statues, as offerings for the gods, and during prayers. Dancers wear blossoms in their crowns, and flowers are worn behind the ear during ceremony sessions.

Fauna
Like some other parts of Indonesia, Bali was home for big mammals such as elephant and tiger, although they no longer exist since early of last century. However, Bali still is rich of wildlife with the existence of various species of monkeys, civets, barking deer and mouse deer. There are 300 species of birds occupy the island including wild fowl, dollar birds, blue kingfishers, sea eagles, sandpipers, white herons and egrets, cuckoos, wood swallows, sparrows, and the endangered Bali starlings. The underwater world or marine life of Bali has been noted as one of the best in the world with various species such as dolphin, shark and sun fish, and some smaller inhabitants like colorful coral fish, small reef fish, and moray eels, as well as crustaceans and sponges.

The existence of these flora and fauna become necessary for the day to day life of Balinese, where ceremonies and rituals always flourish.


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