The Republic of Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world comprising 13.466 large and small tropical islands fringed with white sandy beaches, many still uninhabited and a number even still unnamed. Straddling the equator, situated between the continents of Asia and Australia and between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, it is as wide as the United States from San Francisco to New York, equalling the distance between London and Moscow. Living on 13.466 islands, the Indonesian nation today counts some 200 million population comprising more than 200 ethnic groups. After Independence in 1945 inter-marriages among people of different ethnic groups have welded the population into a more cohesive Indonesian nation. Indonesia enjoys its reputation as one of the most culturally diverse country in the world with a deep respect of its pluralism and cultural heritage. The Indonesian coat of arms moreover bears the motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – Unity in Diversity. The national language is Bahasa Indonesia.
The majority of the population embraces Islam, while in Bali the Hindu religion is predominant. Whereas in areas like the Minahasa in North Sulawesi, the Toraja highlands in South Sulawesi, in the East Nusatenggara islands and in large parts of Papua, in the Batak highlands as well as on Nias island in North Sumatra, the majority are either Catholics or Protestants. On the whole the Indonesian people are religious in nature.
Bali blends the beautiful sceneries, vibrant culture and gracious innate friendliness of people. Bali is magical. It fascinates the world with its rich diversity of ancient temples, dramatic dances and music, colorful religious ceremonies, enchanting rituals and ways of life. Having a great number of Puras (temples) and shrines on the island, Bali is known as Island of a Thousand Temples or Island of the Gods. Its uniqueness made Bali as one of the world main tourism destinations.
Bali is an Indonesian island located at the westernmost 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 3.890.757 in 2010 census, the island is a home to the vast majority of Indonesia’s small Hindu minority. 84.5% 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 (13.3%), Christianity (1.7%), and Buddhism (0.5%). 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 pervades nearly every aspect of traditional life. Caste system is implemented, though less strictly than in India.
Balinese and Bahasa Indonesia are the most widely spoken language in Bali; and Bahasa Indonesia is the official language. The vast majority of Balinese are bilingual or trilingual. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: the modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership. Kawi and Sanskrit are also commonly used by some Hindu priests in Bali and for Hinduism literature was mostly written in Sanskrit.
English is a common third language (and the primary foreign language) of many Balinese, owing to the requirements of the tourism industry. Other foreign languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French or German are often used in multilingual signs for foreign tourists.
Being a tropical island, Bali is blessed with two seasons, namely dry and rainy. Dry usually occurs from June to September and the rest is rainy season. Sunshine is abundant except in rainy season when the sky tends to be cloudy. It is advisable to visit Indonesia during dry season.
Bali’s climate can be hot and humid, so bringing along sun-blocks and moisturizers during dry season is recommended. There’s no need to bring umbrellas during rainy season because they are abundant and can easily be bought even in small shops in Bali. However, you might need extra clothing and you can purchase them almost anywhere.
The currency unit of the country is Indonesian Rupiah (Rp). The value is approximately 1 USD equal to Rp. 12.128.000 (per November 2014).