GEOGRAPHICALLY, SITUATED BETWEEN THE ISLANDS OF JAVA AND LOMBOK, Bali is small, stretching approximately 140 km from east to west, and 80 km from north to south. The tallest of a string of volcanic mountains that run from the east to the west is Gunung Agung, which last erupted in 1963. Located just 8º south of the Equator, Bali boasts a tropical climate with just two seasons (wet and dry) a year with an average temperature of around 28ºC. The wide and gently sloping southern regions play host to Bali’s famed rice terraces, which are among some of the most spectacular in the world. In the hilly, northern coastal regions, the main produce is coffee, copra, spices, vegetables, cattle and rice.
The Balinese have strong spiritual roots and despite the large influx of tourists over the years, their culture is still very much alive. The main religion is Agama Hindu Dharma, which, although originally from India, is comprised of a unique blend of Hindu, Buddhist, Javanese and ancient indigenous beliefs; It is very different from the Hinduism practiced in India today. Naturally creative, the Balinese have traditionally used their talents for religious purposes and most of the beautiful work to be seen here has been inspired by stories from the Ramayana and other Hindu epics.
With a reputation as one of the most beautiful and diverse tourist spots in Asia. Bali annually attracts almost 7,000,000 visitors yearly from around the world.
The majority of Bali’s 4,000,000 people live, for the most part, in tight village communities with large extended families. The largest cities are Denpasar (the capital) and Singaraja in the north. The main tourist area stretches from Kuta to Seminyak. Kuta became a major attraction during the tourist boom of the 70’s because of its famous white-sand beaches, the surf, and stunning sunsets.
Today, the stretch from Kuta to Seminyak is a major tourist destination, with hundreds of hotels, bars, restaurants and shops. Those in search of a little peace and quiet tend to head for the more serene resorts of Sanur and Candi Dasa on the east coast, or Lovina in the north. Nusa Dua, on the southern-most peninsula of the island, houses many five-star hotels. The central village of Ubud, in the hilly region of Gianyar, has also blossomed as a tourist attraction and is now considered to be the artistic and cultural centre of Bali.