Bali is one of 17,000 islands (6,000 inhabited) in the archipelago that make up the country of Indonesia. It is just 90 miles (145 km) long and 50 miles (80 km) wide, and can easily be driven across in a day. The island is just east of the island of Java and west of Lombok in the Indian Ocean. It sits approximately 8° below the equator, making it a part of the Southern Hemisphere.
Bali is an Indonesian province, which means that it has its own provincial government and local customs. It is in the southernmost part of the country, and is located close to the northern tip of Australia. The nearest country to the east is Papua New Guinea; Malaysia sits to the north and northwest. Traveling straight north, past the other Indonesian provinces of South, Central, West, and East Kalimantan, is the South China Sea, home to Vietnam and the Philippines. Bali sits about 3,356 miles (5,400 km) south of Beijing.
Climate and Topography
The climate on the island is usually described as tropical — the weather is warm throughout most of the year, though there are defined wet and dry seasons. The near-consistent temperatures make the island an ideal place for growing citrus fruits, rice, and coffee beans. Most residents work in agriculture.
Although many of the islands that make up Indonesia are beautiful and appealing, this one is often considered particularly attractive. Much of the island is surrounded by beaches with clear water, and coral reefs are common. Mount Agung, an active volcano, towers 10,308 feet (3,142 meters) above the terrain in the center of the island. The inland is dense with green rice paddies.
Culture and Population
Indonesia’s total population is about 231 million, about 3 million of whom are Balinese. Most people who live in Indonesia are Muslim, but a majority of those on Bali practice the Hindu faith. In fact, it's home to most of Indonesia’s Hindu minority. The island is something of a mixture of the two worlds, as there is a great Islamic influence alongside a strong Hindu pull.
The island also has a fascinating cultural tradition. Ubud, in the center of the island, is known for arts and crafts, including woodcarving, batik-making, and painting. Balinese dance and Gamelan orchestra performances are common. Small artistic touches can often be seen in the form of small offerings presented to Hindu gods.
The island is a very popular tourist destination, and tourism makes up a significant part of the economy. Terrorist attacks in 2002 and 2005 caused a serious drop in the number of visitors to the island, however, although the industry is improving. The popular 2010 film adaptation of the novel Eat, Pray, Love was shot in part in Bali, which many believe reinvigorated tourism, at least among people coming from North American and European countries.