|Bali, has a great topographical
variety. Located in the center of the Indonesia’s vast
archipelago, Bali is a land divided in half east to west by
volcanic mountain and deep river gorges. On the east coast of
Bali white sand beaches engulf the land, while on the western
portions of Bali, active volcanoes dot the island. As distinct
as Balinese life is, the people of the land and culture originated
elsewhere. The settlement of people goes back to the Neolithic
period of around
3000 B.C, but the culture flourished under strict Chinese and Indian
influences. Strong beliefs of Buddhism and Hinduism began in 800
B.C, and were ruled periodically by the Javanese. With the rise
of Islam on the mainland, the Javanese King, Majapahit, fled Jakarta
for Bali in 1515, and brought with his arrival the Javanese influence,
which later affected the way Bali created their art and culture.
The first real Western presence was established in 1601 when a
Dutch contingent came to set up formal relations and establish trade.
Bali was then officially under Dutch control. It was during the
1900’s that a steady stream of European settlers and visitors
came to the land. Teachers arrived first, followed by the first
tourists, artists, and cultural explorers. By the 1930s, Bali's
reputation as a magical paradise was spreading rapidly. World War
II brought an end of foreigners to Bali, with the arrival of Japanese
troops. For Indonesians, it was a time of both strain under the
brief Japanese occupation and revelation in light of the withdrawal
of Dutch control. Shortly after the war in 1945, Nationalist Party
founder Sukarto, announced the declaration of Indonesia’s
independence, and was later named president. The Dutch withdrew
under international pressure in 1949, allowing the creation of the
Republic of Indonesia, a tentative federation. In 1965, Suharto
seized control in response to a staged communist coup, and bloody
conflicts continued for several years. As many as 100,000 Balinese
were killed. Under Suharto rule, the military gained a far-reaching
influence over national affairs. For the next 3 decades, until the
major economic crisis of 1997, Indonesia enjoyed a period of prosperity
in spite of Suharto's inappropriate dictatorship. During this time,
and with government attention, Bali rose to be one of the top tour
destinations in the region.
Nowadays, in just the last half century Bali has undergone remarkable
changes. Due to the 2002 bombings, the Balinese are doing what ever
they can to repair damage to the land both spiritually and physically.
Security has been on high alert at hotels, and airports. For Indonesia
shaping up the now tarnished reputation of its tourist gem is an
important step in reshaping this Balinese paradise.
What makes Bali so special? It is the dedication and the combination
of friendly people that attract tourist to the land. Who can resist
the natural attractions and great variety of things to do and see?
The climate is welcoming and the spirituality of the land and its
residence is over powering, which will leave a memorable impression
on you for years to come. Bali’s culture, food, people, and
history is so fascinating that once you arrive on the land you will
be addicted to the customs and their way of life.