AskDefine | Define Bali

Dictionary Definition

Bali n : an island in Indonesia east of Java; striking volcanic scenery; culture is known for elaborate dances and rituals and for handicrafts

User Contributed Dictionary

see bali


Proper noun

  1. An island, part of Indonesia, just east of Java.

Derived terms


name of island
  • Chinese: 巴厘岛 (Bālí-dǎo)
  • Danish: Bali
  • Dutch: Bali
  • Esperanto: Balio
  • Estonian: Bali
  • Finnish: Bali
  • French: Bali
  • German: Bali
  • Hebrew: באלי (Bali)
  • Hungarian: Bali
  • Indonesian: Bali
  • Japanese: バリ島 (ばりとう, Bari-tō)
  • Korean: 발리 섬 (Balli-seom)
  • Lithuanian: Balis
  • Malay: Bali
  • Maltese: Bali
  • Norwegian: Bali
  • Polish: Bali
  • Russian: Бали (Báli)''
  • Sicilian: Bali
  • Slovenian: Bali
  • Spanish: Bali
  • Swedish: Bali

Extensive Definition

Bali is an Indonesian island located at , the western most of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying 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.
With a population recorded as 3,151,000 in 2005, the island is home to the vast majority of Indonesia's small Hindu minority. 93.18% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, while most of the remainder follow Islam. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music.


Bali was inhabited by Austronesian peoples by about 2,000, [assume BC ? - clarification needed] who 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. Stone tools dating from this time have been found near the village of Cekik in the island's west.
Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian, and particularly Hindu culture, in a process beginning around the 1st century AD. The name Balidwipa has been discovered from various inscriptions, including the Blanjong charter issued by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 913 AD and mentioning Walidwipa. It was during this time that the complex irrigation system subak was developed to grow rice. Some religious and cultural traditions still in existence today can be traced back to this period. The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. When the empire declined, there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests and musicians from Java to Bali in the 15th century.
The first European contact with Bali is thought to have been made by Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman who arrived in 1597, though a Portuguese ship had foundered off the Bukit Peninsula as early as 1585. Dutch colonial control was expanded across the Indonesian archipelago in the nineteenth century (see Dutch East Indies). Their political and economic control over Bali began in the 1840s on the island's north coast by playing various distrustful Balinese realms against each other. In the late 1890s, struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the island's south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control. The Dutch mounted large naval and ground assaults at the Sanur region in 1906 and were met by the thousands of members of the royal family and their followers who marched to certain death against superior Dutch force in a suicidal puputan defensive assault rather than face the humiliation of surrender. With no Islamic forces involved as in Java and Sumatra, upper-caste PNI landlords lead the extermination of PKI members.
As a result of the 1965/66 upheavals, Suharto was able to manoeuvre Sukarno out of the presidency, and his "New Order" government reestablished relations with western countries. The Bali as a tourist paradise which was instigated during the pre World War II colonial time was revised in a modern form, and the resulting large growth in tourism has led to Balinese standards of living rise dramatically and significant foreign exchange earned for the country. Where Shanti derived from Sanskrit "Çantih" meaning peace.


The population of Bali is 3,151,000 (as of 2005).


Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, about 93.18% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, formed as a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. Minority religions include Islam (4.79%), Christianity (1.38%), and Buddhism (0.64%). These figures do not include immigrants from other parts of Indonesia.
Bali consists of about three million people, nearly all of whom practice the Balinese Hindu religion, a heterogeneous amalgam in which gods and demigods are worshipped together with Buddhist heroes, with the spirits of ancestors and with indigenous deities associated with agriculture and with places considered sacred. Religion as it is practiced in Bali is a composite belief system that embraces not only theology, philosophy, and mythology, but ancestor worship, animism and magic. It is supposed to pervade every aspect of traditional life.
Bali Hinduism, which has roots in Indian Hinduism and in Buddhism, adopted the animistic traditions of the indigenous people, which inhabited the island around the first millennium BCE. This influence strengthened the belief that the gods and goddesses are present in all things. Every element of nature, therefore, possesses its own power, which reflects the power of the gods. A rock, tree, dagger, or woven cloth is a potential home for spirits whose energy can be directed for good or evil. Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual, and is less closely preoccupied with scripture, law, and belief than Islam in Indonesia. Ritualizing states of self-control are a notable feature of religious expression among the people, who for this reason have become famous for their graceful and decorous behavior.


Balinese and Indonesian are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and like most Indonesians, the vast majority of Balinese people are bilingual or trilingual. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership, but this tradition is diminishing.
English is a common third language (and the primary foreign language) of many Balinese, owing to the requirements of the large tourism industry. Staff working in Bali's tourist centres are often, by necessity, multilingual to some degree, speaking as many as 8 or 9 different languages to an often surprising level of competence.


Bali is renowned its diverse and sophisticated art forms, such as painting, sculpture, woodcarving, handcrafts, and performing arts. Balinese percussion orchestra music, known as gamelan, is highly developed and varied. Balinese dances portray stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana but with heavy Balinese influence. Famous Balinese dances include pendet, legong, baris, topeng, barong, and kecak (the monkey dance).
The Hindu New Year, Nyepi, is celebrated in the spring by a day of silence. On this day everyone stays at home and tourists are encouraged to remain in their hotels. On the preceding day large, colorful sculptures of ogoh-ogoh monsters are paraded and finally burned in the evening to drive away evil spirits. Other festivals throughout the year are specified by the Balinese pawukon calendrical system.
National education programs, mass media and tourism continue to change Balinese culture. Immigration from other parts of Indonesia, especially Java, is changing the ethnic composition of Bali's population.
The Balinese eat with their right hand, as the left is impure, a common belief throughout Indonesia. The Balinese do not hand or receive things with their left hand and would not wave at anyone with their left hand.




  • Miguel Covarrubias, Island of Bali, 1946. ISBN 962-593-060-4
  • Indonesia: Peoples and Histories
  • Bali and Lombok
  • Hinzler, Heidi (1995) Artifacts and Early Foreign Influences. From
  • A History of Modern Indonesia since c.1300, Second Edition
  • Vickers, Adrian (1995), From

Further reading

  • Secrets of Bali, Fresh Light on the Morning of the World
  • A Patch of Paradise: A Women's Search for a Real Life on Bali
  • Perfect Order: Recognizing Complexity in Bali (Princeton Studies in Complexity)
  • The Three Worlds of Bali
  • A House in Bali
  • Bali and the tourist industry: a history, 1906-1942
  • Travelling to Bali: Four Hundred Years of Journeys
  • The Ecology of Java and Bali
  • Architecture of Bali: A source book of traditional and modern forms

External links

portal Indonesia
Bali in Arabic: بالي
Bali in Min Nan: Bali
Bali in Banyumasan: Propinsi Bali
Bali in Bulgarian: Бали
Bali in Catalan: Bali
Bali in Czech: Bali
Bali in Welsh: Bali
Bali in Danish: Bali
Bali in German: Bali
Bali in Estonian: Bali
Bali in Modern Greek (1453-): Μπαλί
Bali in Spanish: Bali
Bali in Esperanto: Balio
Bali in Basque: Bali
Bali in Persian: بالی
Bali in French: Bali
Bali in Galician: Bali
Bali in Gujarati: બાલી
Bali in Korean: 발리 섬
Bali in Hindi: बाली
Bali in Croatian: Bali
Bali in Indonesian: Pulau Bali
Bali in Italian: Bali
Bali in Hebrew: באלי
Bali in Javanese: Provinsi Bali
Bali in Pampanga: Bali
Bali in Lithuanian: Balis
Bali in Hungarian: Bali
Bali in Malay (macrolanguage): Pulau Bali
Bali in Mongolian: Бали арал
Bali in Dutch: Bali (eiland)
Bali in Japanese: バリ島
Bali in Norwegian: Bali
Bali in Norwegian Nynorsk: Bali
Bali in Polish: Bali (wyspa)
Bali in Portuguese: Bali
Bali in Romanian: Bali
Bali in Russian: Бали
Bali in Sanskrit: बाली
Bali in Sicilian: Bali
Bali in Simple English: Bali
Bali in Slovenian: Bali
Bali in Serbo-Croatian: Bali
Bali in Sundanese: Bali
Bali in Finnish: Bali
Bali in Swedish: Bali
Bali in Tamil: பாலி
Bali in Thai: จังหวัดบาหลี
Bali in Vietnamese: Bali
Bali in Ukrainian: Балі (острів)
Bali in Chinese: 巴厘岛
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