The Indonesian island of Bali rests between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the country’s 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island. Bali was inhabited by Austronesian peoples by about 2,000 BC who had migrated originally from Taiwan through Maritime Southeast Asia. Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are thus closely related to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, the Philippines, and Oceania. Balinese culture has also been strongly influenced by Indian and Chinese, and particularly Hindu culture, the majority religion on the island. Read the latest analysis of the Bali property market
The Hindu Majapahit Empire founded a Balinese colony in 1343 and when the empire declined many of its intellectuals, artists, priests and musicians settled on the island. The Dutch were the first of the old world powers to discover Bali and although they established themselves on the island, their grip was never as strong as in other parts of Indonesia.
Bali’s life as a tourist destination began in the 1930s when anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson created a western image of Bali as ‘an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature’. This view of the island triggered a conveyor belt of western visitors which, along with its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music, has seen Bali become the largest tourist destination in the country.