Bali, the famed Island of the Gods, with its varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all providing a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, deeply spiritual and unique culture, stakes a serious claim to be paradise on earth.
Bali is an island and province of Indonesia. The province includes the island of Bali and a few smaller neighbouring islands, notably Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan.
Bali is one of more than 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago and is located just over 2 kilometres from the eastern tip of the island of Java and west of the island of Lombok. The island, home to about 4 million people, is approximately 144 kilometres from east to west and 80 kilometres ) north to south.
When the Moslem or the Islamic teaching came to Indonesia around 14th century, almost all Hindu and Buddhist kingdom in Indonesia were influenced and changed to Muslim. But many of those, especially the priest went to Bali and strengthened the Hindu religion that till now, Bali becomes the center of Hinduism in which about 95% of Balinese are Hindu follower. The rest, of course we have Moslem, Buddhist and Christian. The Hindu in Bali is not exactly the same as that in India as the country of Hindu origin because when Hindu came to Bali, the local people have had their own animistic and dynamistic belief. The Hinduism adapted to the local belief but principally the same. So, the religion of Hindu in Bali is a combination of the original Hindu teaching and the animism and dynamism which form a unique spiritual life.
The first Hindus arrived in Bali as early as 100 BC, but the unique culture which is so apparent to any current day visitor to Bali hails largely from neighbouring Java, with some influence from Bali's distant animist past. The Javanese Majapahit Empire's rule over Bali became complete in the 14th century when Gajah Mada, Prime Minister of the Javanese king, defeated the Balinese king at Bedulu.
In 1597 Dutch seaman name Cornelis de Houtman arrived in Bali with his crew and he fell in love with the beauty of the island as well as its people with their unique tradition, culture and faith, not to mention the art and craft. Started from 1710, the Dutch began to think of controlling the island. Though not easy, but one by one all kingdoms in Bali was finally defeated by the Dutch who used the old strategy, divide and conquer. Finally, the last kingdom of Klungkung was conquered and the whole Bali became part of the Dutch East Indies. Here was where the changes in many things took place and the Dutch influences were spread all over Indonesia becoming some traditions that the present people are still practising.
In 1942, the Japanese came to Indonesia as far as Bali and declared themselves as the Asian protector, who would help the local people fought against the colonialism for freedom. The Dutch were surrendered by the help of local people, but then, they were just the same. In world war II, the United Army led by USA destroyed two big cities, Nagasaki and Hirosima in Japan. Officially, Japan was defeated by the United Army and they had to leave away from Indonesia to their country.
In 1946 the Dutch constituted Bali as one of the 13 administrative districts of the newly proclaimed State of East Indonesia, a rival state to the Republic of Indonesia which was proclaimed and headed by Sukarno and Hatta. Bali was included in the United States of Indonesia when the Netherlands recognised Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949. The first governor of Bali, Anak Agung Bagus Suteja, was appointed by President Sukarno in 1958, when Bali became a province.