WHERE IS BALI?
The island of Bali is part of the Republic of Indonesia and is located 8 to 9 degrees south of the equator between
Java in the West and Lombok and the rest of the Lesser Sunda Islands (Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba and Timor) in
the East. Flying time to Jakarta is about 1.5 hours, to Singapore and Perth (Australia) 2.5 and 3 hours, to Hong
Kong about 4.5 hours, and to Sydney/Melbourne about 5.5 to 6 hours.
The island of Bali has an area of only 5,632 square kilometers (2,175 square miles) and measures just 55 miles
(90 kilometers) along the north-south axis and less than about 90 miles (140 kilometers) from East to West.
Because of this it’s no problem to explore the island on day tours. You can go wherever you want on the island
and return to your hotel or villa in the evening.
Located only two kilometers east of Jawa, Bali’s climate, flora and fauna are quite similar to its much larger
neighbour. The island is famous for its beautiful landscape. A chain of six volcanoes, between 1,350 meters and
3,014 meters high, stretches from west to east. There are lush tropical forests, pristine crater lakes, fast flowing
rivers and deep ravines, picturesque rice terraces, and fertile vegetable and fruit gardens. The beaches in the
South consist of white sand, beaches in other parts of the island are covered with gray or black volcanic sand.
The wide variety of tropical plants is surprising. You’ll see huge banyan trees in villages and temple grounds,
tamarind trees in the North, clove trees in the highlands, acacia trees, flame trees, and mangroves in the South.
In Bali grow a dozen species of coconut palms and even more varieties of bamboo.
And there are flowers, flowers everywhere. You’ll see (and smell the fragrance of) hibiscus, bougainvillea,
jasmine, and water lilies. Magnolia, frangipani, and a variety of orchids are found in many front yards and
gardens, along roads, and in temple grounds. Flowers are also used as decorations in temples, on statues, as
offerings for the gods, and during prayers. Dancers wear blossoms in their crowns, and even the flower behind
the ear of your waitress seems natural in Bali.
Elephants and tigers don’t exist any more in Bali since early this century. Wildlife, however, includes various
species of monkeys, civets, barking deer and mouse deer, and 300 species of birds including wild fowl, dollar
birds, blue kingfishers, sea eagles, sandpipers, white herons and egrets, cuckoos, wood swallows, sparrows, and
starlings. You can watch schools of dolphins near Lovina, Candi Dasa, and Padangbai. Divers will see many
colorful coral fish and small reef fish, moray eels, and plankton eating whale sharks as well as crustaceans,
sponges, and colorful coral along the east coast and around Menjangan Island near Gilimanuk.
This southern part of Bali is where most jobs are to be found, either in the hotel and tourist industry, the textile and
garment industry, and in many small scale and home industries producing handicrafts and souvenirs. Textiles,
garments, and handicrafts have become the backbone of Bali’s economy providing 500,000 jobs, and exports
have been increasing by around 25% per year to over US$800 million. Textiles and garments contribute about
55%, and wood products including statues, furniture and other handicrafts 32% to the province’s total income
from exports. Silver work is ranked third (4.65%) with 5,000 workers employed. Main buyers are the US and
Europe with 38% each, and Japan with 9%.
Important agricultural products besides rice are tea, coffee, tobacco, cacao, copra, vanilla, soy beans, chilies,
fruit, and vegetable (there are now even vineyards near the northwest coast). Bali’s fishing industry and seaweed
farming provide other products which are important exports.
The new free-trade regulations will create some problems for Bali’s exporters as they do not allow to employ
children. Most children here work for their parents, and this is part of the process of acquiring professional skills
and kind of an informal education which has been very important in the Balinese society for centuries.