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Province coat of arms
Basic data
Area : 5780 km²
Residents : 4,220,000
Population density : 730 inhabitants / km²
Capital : Denpasar
governor I made Mangku Pastika
Location in Indonesia
Singapur Brunei Malaysia Malaysia Philippinen Osttimor Australien Papua-Neuguinea Thailand Aceh Sumatra Utara Riau Sumatra Barat Jambi Bengkulu Sumatra Selatan Lampung Kepulauan Riau Bangka-Belitung Banten Jakarta Jawa Barat Yogyakarta Bali Jawa Tengah Jawa Timur Nusa Tenggara Barat Nusa Tenggara Timur Maluku Utara Sulawesi Utara Maluku Papua Barat Papua Kalimantan Barat Kalimantan Tengah Kalimantan Selatan Kalimantan Timur Kalimantan Utara Sulawesi Barat Gorontalo Sulawesi Tenggara Sulawesi Selatan Sulawesi TengahBali in Indonesia (special marker) .svg
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Bali is an island in the Indian Ocean belonging to Indonesia with an average tropical climate. The capital of the island is Denpasar . With an area of ​​5,780 km², Bali is by far the largest island in the province of the same name . At the 2010 census, Bali had around 3.9 million inhabitants and in 2012 an estimate was 4.22 million.


Topography of Bali


Bali is considered to be the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands (to which the islands of Nusa Tenggara belong) and is separated from the western Java by the 2.5 km wide Bali Strait . Bali is located in the Indian Ocean between Java and Lombok . The north-south extension is 95 km, from its western tip to the eastern tip it is 145 km.

The province of Bali still includes a few smaller islands called Nusa Penida , Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan , a total of 85 islands and islets, of which only 24 are named. Bali is considered a relatively young island. The island is only separated from the Malay mainland by three relatively flat straits. These have repeatedly dried up over time, so that the fauna and flora of Bali do not differ very much from the Malay mainland. The so-called Wallace Line runs between Bali and Lombok . This is the biogeographical dividing line between Asian and Australian flora and fauna. This strait is very deep and has existed for a long time, so that the flora and fauna of the two neighboring islands are very different.

Most of Bali's mountains are of volcanic origin and cover about three quarters of the island's total area. The Gunung Agung volcano ("Big Mountain") is the highest mountain on the island at 3,142 meters. For the Balinese it is the seat of the gods. It is also the pole of the Balinese coordinate system. The penultimate eruption in 1963 claimed 2,000 lives and devastated numerous villages and fields. It last erupted in 2018. To the west of the Agung is the huge, ten kilometer wide volcanic crater of the Batur massif , with the peripheral cone of the Gunung Abang (2153 m) as the highest elevation. The inside of the crater is filled by the young cone of Gunung Batur (1717 m), who worked four times in the 20th century, and the Danau Batur crater lake.

The reason for the volcanic activity is the subduction of the Sahul plate (part of the Australian plate ) under the Sunda plate (part of the Eurasian plate ). It is also responsible for volcanism on the neighboring islands to the east and west. Like Bali, these are part of the so-called Sunda Arc, a volcanic island arc that is generally typical of ocean-ocean subduction zones. South of the Sunda Arc, the seabed slopes down to the Sunda Trench . Such deep-sea trenches are also typical of subduction zones.

Political structure

When Indonesia was founded in 1945, Bali was part of the Nusa Tenggara Barat Province . Since August 14, 1959, it has been one of the 34 provinces of the republic together with the neighboring islands (see location). All provincial regions of Indonesia are administered by a governor who reports directly to the president. The governor of Bali, Made Mangku Pastika since 2008, is based in the capital Denpasar. The province of Bali is (since 1992) divided into eight Kabupaten (administrative districts) and one Kota (the urban district of Denpasar), whose bupati (district council) or walikota (mayor) are subordinate to the governor. These Kabupaten are divided into 57 Kecamatan (districts). The number of desa (villages) has remained unchanged since 2011 and is 716. They are each ruled by a kepala desa (village chief). The villages are in turn divided into banjars (village districts), which are administered by a klian .

The addition adat means traditional, so Balinese-Hindu. A few villages deliberately remain in the cultural stage before the Hindu influence. These are mainly in the east and on Lake Batur . They are known as Bali Aga (Old Bali). There are also individual kampung islam , places with an islamic, and desa kristen , with a christian population.

Kabupaten / Kota Capital Area
Jembrana Negara 841.80 231,806 247.102 261,618
Tabanan Tabanan 839.30 376.030 398.389 420,370
Bathing Mangupura 418.52 345,863 388,548 543,681
Gianyar Gianyar 368.00 393.155 421.067 470.380
Klungkung Semarapura 315.00 155.262 163.291 170,559
Bangli Bangli 520.81 193,776 208.508 215.404
Karangasem Amlapura 839.54 360.486 376.711 396,892
Buleleng Singaraja 1,365.88 558.181 599,866 624.079
Denpasar Denpasar 123.98 532,440 574.610 788.445
total 5,780.06 3,146,999 3,378,092 3,891,428
Map of Bali with districts



Terraced rice fields north of Ubud . Today's wet rice varieties allow three harvests per year in Bali

Large parts of the island were once covered by monsoon forest (also called tropical wet forest). Due to the cultivation of the landscape, the forests were strongly pushed back. In the west of the island they have been partially preserved, and since 1984 the original vegetation of the island has been protected as part of the Bali Barat National Park. Tropical flowering trees such as frangipani , bougainvillea or hibiscus grow widespread in Bali. Screw trees (Pandanus) and Lontar palms (Borassus flabellifer) grow mainly in arid regions .

Up to six vegetation zones can be found in a very small space on Bali :
  1. Tropical dry forest : In the past, it mainly covered the dry north and west, where the dry season can last up to eight months.
  2. Tropical rainforest : The tropical mountain forest used to be present on all mountain peaks above 800 to 1500 m. Today there are little leftovers. These forests are very important water catchment areas for the areas below, some of which are densely populated, and provide effective protection against erosion.
  3. Wet savannah : The wet savannah in Bali is similar to the wet savannah in East Africa . In Bali there are wet savannahs, especially on the dry and southern peninsula, where the soil consists mainly of lime and can therefore store little water.
  4. Mangrove forests : They grow in the tidal area of ​​rivers and sea coasts. The only mangrove forests are in the southeast and west of Bali.
  5. Lava landscape : These vegetation-free lava landscapes can be found near the volcanic craters.
  6. Cultural landscape : Today it occupies most of the island.


The Balistar lives exclusively in Bali

The Bali tiger has been extinct since the 1940s. There are also no living specimens in zoos. Recent unconfirmed sightings date back to the early 1950s.

Monkeys, especially macaques, are also common outside of protected reserves . Lizards, as Agama , monitor lizards , skinks and geckos , are found everywhere on the island, even snakes are numerous. The large mammals are represented by wild boar and red deer . 30-40 specimens of the Javanese wild cattle and many different bird species still live in the national park , including the Balistar , which only occurs in Bali .


The climate is tropical and warm with high humidity. From November to March, the intertropical convergence zone (ITC) brings monsoon rains from the northwest . The central mountain range ensures that the rain is distributed very unevenly on the island. In the south of the island about 2000 mm of precipitation falls annually. In the mountains, precipitation increases to 3000 mm, whereas the north coast of Bali, which is in the rain shadow, receives only around 1000 mm of precipitation.

The annual mean temperatures are 24–34 ° C at sea level, in the dry season from May to October an average of 10–20 ° C in the highlands and 29–34 ° C in the coastal regions.

Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Denpasar
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 33.0 33.4 33.6 34.4 33.1 31.4 30.4 29.6 31.4 33.6 32.7 33.0 O 32.5
Min. Temperature (° C) 24.1 24.2 24.0 24.8 24.1 23.5 23.0 22.5 22.9 23.7 23.5 23.5 O 23.6
Precipitation ( mm ) 345 274 234 88 93 53 55 25th 47 63 179 276 Σ 1,732
Rainy days ( d ) 27 22nd 20th 9 8th 6th 4th 4th 8th 12 16 22nd Σ 158
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Source: Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency, Indonesia, data: 1961–1990


Ethnic groups

89% of the population are Balinese (sometimes also called Balinese ), the rest is divided into small Javanese and Chinese communities.



  • Hinduism: 92.4%
  • Islam: 5.6%
  • Christianity: 1.4%
  • Buddhism: 0.6%


Surrounding a typical house temple with a split gate (
Candi bentar ), side niches for offerings ( apit lawang ) and demonic guardian figures in front of it

Bali is the only region outside India , Nepal and Mauritius with a Hindu majority. Most Balinese profess the Hindu Dharma religion , the Balinese form of belief in Hinduism. Hinduism found its way into Bali in the 8th to 9th centuries. Religious rites and festivals accompany people from birth to death and beyond. They are the basis of the cohesion of family and village community. Religious rites are effective in establishing a village, they regulate family life and are the ethical guidelines of the whole people. Holidays, popular amusements and gatherings are always preceded by a temple ceremony.

Bali is called the "Island of a Thousand Temples". Each Hindu banyar is home to three temples: the Pura Puseh ( Temple of Origin), the Pura Desa (Temple of the Great Council) and the Pura Dalem (Temple of Death). In some villages, Pura Puseh and Pura Desa are combined in one temple complex. Usually such temples are elaborately designed, even in remote regions, and are hardly inferior to the major temples on the island in terms of design. In addition, every house and subak has its own temple and at prominent points (road crossings, town entrances, banyan trees, etc.) there are small temples or at least an offering box, which in extreme cases can be a simple stone.

Traditional ideas and practices

In addition to the prevailing Hinduism, animistic traditions of the old ethnic religions are still decisive for the entire religious life of the island. According to this, gods are present in all appearances. Everything in nature has its own power that reflects the power of the gods: rocks, trees, a dagger, even clothing can be inhabited by spirits, whose power can be used for good or bad. Rituals play a major role and are much less determined by scriptures than, for example, Indonesian Islam. This ritualization of life and the self-control that goes with it is an essential part of religious customs among the people. In particular in the shadow play with the priestly leading figure of the Dalang , there are still strong remnants of an old shamanism , which is also recognizable in initiation rituals, soul guides, healings etc. The same applies to similar ceremonies in Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand.

The underworld is in the sea, the gods live on the volcanoes and the cult of ancestors is pronounced. There are thousands of healers and shamans who offer all services from healing to fortune telling to love spells. There is also a “white (good) and black (bad) shamanism”. The basic idea is always the restoration of the disturbed harmony within the universal polarity, which here, as in the other East Asian religions, is not viewed as oppositional but as complementary. Domestic sacrifices are common.

Buddhism in Bali

Buddhist temple in Kuta

Only 0.6% of the Balinese are Buddhists, most of whom are from China. There are five Buddhist temples in Bali, of which the Viharaya Dharmayana in Kuta is one of the most visited. It was founded in 1876.


Mainly Balinese ( basa Bali ) and Indonesian ( bahasa Indonesia ) are spoken in Bali . As a non-Indonesian language, English is also widely used due to tourism. Depending on the main tourist origin, Dutch ( Sanur ), Japanese ( Ubud ) and occasionally also German , Russian , Italian or French are spoken, as far as this is necessary for dealing with tourists. In addition to the languages ​​mentioned, Mandarin is also taught in private schools .


Balinese market between 1945 and 1955

The first immigrants are believed to have come from South India, who came to Bali around 1500 BC. Populated. The first kingdom is recorded for 990 AD. In 1478 the Hindu upper class of the Majapahit Empire moved from Java, displaced by Islam, to Bali. The king of the resulting dynasty (Gelgel dynasty) ruled Bali from Klungkung. In the period that followed, the provinces of Bali became independent. Their rulers, the Rajas , now became kings of their own realms. The Dutch occupied Bali in stages from 1846 to 1908. In view of the unstoppable invaders, the Rajas of Denpasar and Pemecutan nevertheless refused to submit. They burned down their palaces and marched in their most beautiful clothes with families, courtiers, priests and warriors into the hail of bullets of the colonial power . 4,000 Balinese were killed. The rule of the Dutch lasted until 1942. During this time, the opium monopoly brought the Dutch state income that significantly exceeded the expenditure for conquering and maintaining the colony.

The island was then annexed by Japan until 1945 . On August 17, 1945, the proclamation of Indonesia took place. Bali has been part of the country since then.

In 1963 the Gunung Agung broke out and killed thousands. This was followed by economic chaos, which prompted many Balinese to relocate to other parts of Indonesia.

General Suharto's leadership brought a wave of violence to Bali in 1965 . The victims were the members of the Communist Party (PKI) and minorities, especially the economically successful Chinese immigrants. Ordinary civilians took part in the massacres.

On October 12, 2002, 202 people were killed in bomb attacks on two discos in Kuta . Three years later, on Saturday, October 1, 2005, three explosive devices exploded, killing 26 people. There were 122 injured, including two German nationals. Two of the bombs exploded on Jimbaran Beach and another in front of a restaurant in Kuta Beach. The police assume suicide attacks and suspect the radical Islamist organization Jemaah Islamiyah to be behind the attack.

The traditional structures of Bali are based on three groups, which ensure that no isolated units (apart from the Bali Aga ) can form:

These are higher levels structured in a self-similar manner. In the past, the administrations of the Rajas (kings) were added, and in some cases complementary, their position is now taken by the Indonesian state.

Economy and Infrastructure


Employment of the population

  • 59% agriculture
  • 19% trade in handicrafts, textile industry, construction
  • 22% tourism-related trade, finance, hospitality


Most of the Balinese are still employed in agriculture. The interior of the island is too mountainous for agriculture and the narrow coastal strips in the north and east are only partially suitable. The main growing area is in the flat and very fertile south of the island. Rice is the island's staple food and cultivation product and is mainly produced for domestic consumption. Coconuts and pork are the most important export products, as is Arabica coffee , which is grown in the highlands of Kintamani . Peanuts, chilies, onions, soybeans and other tropical vegetables and fruits are mainly grown for personal use.


The only industry worth mentioning is the textile industry. Cheap beach clothing, some of which women make at home, is marketed at home and abroad. Bali also exports a lot of handicrafts.



Tourism is now the most important source of foreign currency. Bali is the most visited tourist island in Indonesia. The island covers a substantial part of its budget with funds from tourism. Today around 4 million visitors come every year. Nevertheless, Bali has always retained its own cultural identity beyond tourism. Of the approximately 5,000 dance and gamelan groups that regularly hold their religious ceremonies, only a few are exclusively active for tourists.

Some places like Kuta, Legian and Seminyak have become heavily "westernized" over the past few years. Most of the tourists come from Indonesia, Australia, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.

Diving area

There are extensive coral reefs off the coast of Bali . According to a group of diving experts organized by Forbes Traveler in 2007, Bali is one of the ten best diving spots in the world.

Many reefs - mainly off the northeast and southwest coast - are popular as diving areas . Furthermore, the wreck of the USAT Liberty, which sank in 1942, lies in the bay in front of Tulamben . This is around 30 meters deep and can be easily reached from the beach. The reefs around the offshore island of Nusa Penida are difficult diving spots due to strong currents, but are among the best around Bali.

Similar to the diving areas around Lombok , the reefs provide habitat for 1200-3000 different species of fish, crustaceans and mollusks, including 21 scorpion fish , 14 puffer fish , 20 seahorse and pipefish species as well as 75 lobsters and shrimp .


The Ngurah Rai International Airport is located near Jimbaran and Kuta.



The first principle of Balinese cuisine is devotion. The foods of the day are sacrificed daily before people eat them. Many dishes are specially prepared for ritual purposes and eaten after the ceremony - food is prayer. Fish, meat and poultry are eaten in smaller quantities as a side dish. In Bali, which is predominantly Hindu, cows are considered sacred, which is why beef is out of the question as an offering. Pork, on the other hand, is an everyday food and contributes to the protein supply with fish (fresh and seawater), seafood, goat meat, but also snails ( Bekicot ). Ducks, widely used as farm animals, are also indispensable for banquets and large sacrifices. Historically, cooling options were limited, so fish is often salted or made into fish paste.

In everyday life, the joint consumption of meals is not assigned a role of its own. Eating together is only reserved for the holidays. At a party there are no separate courses. Breakfast is not infrequently a stand-up snack where a few dishes are quickly eaten that were brought back from a visit to the market. Lunch is freshly prepared every morning by the women of the household and then kept on the dining table under a fly screen, which the family members help themselves to as they please during the day. Terms such as starter, soup, main course or dessert are inappropriate for Balinese cuisine. You eat what is on the table in the order of your own taste. Dinner is usually made up of leftovers from lunch. In addition, omelets or fried noodles, which the Chinese have established in Indonesian cuisine, are served.

Various spices play an important role in Balinese cuisine - as in general in Asia. Side dishes like to be strong, and often extremely hot. Balinese dishes can usually be kept all day without refrigeration. The coconut , which is one of the main crops on the island, is indispensable . Their milk , prepared from an infusion of water and grated coconut, is an excellent basis for the curry dishes . Grated coconuts are mixed with vegetables or fried with spices as a side dish. Indian and Arab merchants brought new spices to Bali, such as B. ginger , cardamom and turmeric . With the Portuguese came the chillies that are indispensable in Balinese cuisine today . The Dutch enriched the menu with potatoes and other European vegetables that grow well in the higher elevations of Bali. The Chinese mainly brought glass noodles to Bali.

Rice is more than a staple food in Bali, because food is synonymous with eating rice for the Balinese. Cassava and potatoes are only occasionally served alternations. Even the fast food chains serve all dishes with rice and, for an extra charge, with french fries . A popular snack between meals is rujak , a fruit salad made from unripe fruits - especially from a special mango - or vegetables, served with a sauce made from chili, palm sugar , roasted crab paste and fish sauce , seasoned with lemo and salt.


Balinese music was influenced by the music of the neighboring island of Java , especially during the pre- Islamic period , which was dominated by Hinduism . Different styles of gamelan are widespread in Bali , but also types of singing such as kecak .


Gunung Batur (volcanic cone left) / Danau Batur (lake right)
Tanah Lot temple complex
Tanah Lot temple complex at sunset (around 6 p.m.)
Steep coast at the temple Pura Luhur Ulu Watu

Temple complexes



  • Ubud , Bali Art Center (painting)
  • Celuk, village of the silversmiths
  • Mas, village of wood carvers
  • Batubulan, village of the sculptors


  • Temple festivals and cremations wherever they arise
  • Botanical garden near Bedugul
  • Subak landscapes (UNESCO World Heritage)



The asteroid (770) Bali , discovered by Adam Massinger in Heidelberg on October 31, 1913, is named after the island of Bali .

The Pawukon calendar , derived from Balinese Hinduism, divides the year into 210 days. There is also the Saka calendar , which comes from southern India and begins on the new moon after the equinox in spring (end of March). New Year's Day is the Nyepi holiday .

See also


  • Willard A. Hanna: A Brief History Of Bali: Piracy, Slavery, Opium and Guns: The Story of an Island Paradise. Tuttle Publishing, Boston 2016, ISBN 978-0-8048-4731-5 .
  • Mario Koch: A hundred years of paradise. The creation of an Indonesian ethnic group in Bali. Regiospectra Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-940132-09-3 .
  • Milda Drüke : Ratu Pedanda. Journey into the light - with a high priest in Bali. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-455-09461-9 .
  • David Shavit: Bali and the tourist industry: a history, 1906–1942 . McFarland & Co., Jefferson (North Carolina) 2003, ISBN 962-593-629-7 .
  • Urs Ramseyer: Art and Culture in Bali: A scientific work on the traditional foundations of Balinese art and culture. Schwabe Verlag, Basel 2002, ISBN 3-7965-1886-9 .
  • Anthony J. Whitten, RS Soeriaatmadja, Surya Affif: The Ecology of Java and Bali . Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 962-593-072-8 .
  • Günter Spitzing : Bali. Temples, myths and folk art on the tropical island between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. DuMont, Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-7701-1382-9 .
  • Urs Ramseyer: Culture and Folk Art in Bali. Atlantis Verlag, Zurich 1977, ISBN 3-7611-0525-8 .
  • Vicki Baum : Love and Death in Bali (1937) . ISBN 3-462-03122-8 (Contrary to the title it is not about the love story, but a novel-like description of the ritual life of a Balinese village and its destruction by Dutch colonizers at the beginning of the last century).
  • Gregor Krause and Karl With : Bali. Spirit, Art and Life of Asia. Folkwang-Verlag, Hagen 1922.

Web links

Commons : Bali  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Bali  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. Population data of the provinces of Indonesia ( Memento from December 3, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  2. Bali faces population boom, now home to 4.2 million residents. Jakarta Post, December 17, 2012
  3. David Quammen: The song of the Dodo - A journey through the evolution of the island worlds . List Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-548-60040-9 , p. 62
  4. "Nelles Guide: Indonesia"; ff. Fauna, p. 57ff; Nelles publishing house
  5. ^ Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysical Agency, Indonesia: Klimainformationen Denpasar. World Meteorological Organization, accessed May 6, 2012 .
  6. J. Slattum: Balinese Masks: Spirits of an Ancient Drama. Indonesia, Asia Pacific, Japan, North America, Latin America and Europe . Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd. 2003
  7. Friedrich Seltmann: Comparative components of shadow play forms. In Tribus, Publications of the Linden Museum Stuttgart No. 23, Nov. 1974. pp. 23-70. Pp. 31-55.
  8. Monika Schlicher: Portugal in East Timor. A critical study of the Portuguese colonial history in East Timor 1850 to 1912 , p. 269, Abera, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-931567-08-7 , ( Abera Network Asia-Pacific 4), (also: Heidelberg, Univ., Diss., 1994).
  9. ^ John Gittings: The indonesian massacres 1965/66. In: Mark Levene, Penny Roberts (Eds.): The Massacre in History. Berghahn Books, 1999, pp. 247-262.
  10. Anna Vander Broek: World's 10 best scuba spots . In: Forbes Traveler , August 2007.
  11. a b Monty Halls, Ralf-Dieter Brunowsky (Ed.): Diving worldwide: the individual travel guide; 60 of the world's best diving areas. Bruno-Media, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-9809607-0-6 , pp. 192-195.

Coordinates: 8 ° 22 ′  S , 115 ° 8 ′  E