Situated between Lombok and Java is the Indonesian island called Bali. This island covers an area of twenty-one hundred square miles and has a population of approximately three and a half million residents. The highest point on the island is Mount Agung which rises to a height of ninety-four hundred feet. Mount Agung is an active volcano whose last eruption was in March 1963. Bali is an island that is surrounded by coral reefs and is known for its beaches. Beaches on the southern portion of the island have white sands, while beaches on the northern portion have black sand beaches. The biggest city on the island is Denpasar, which is also the provincial capital. The second biggest city on Bali is the city of Singaraja, which used to be the colonial capital of the island.
The first inhabitants on Bali were an Austronesian people who settled there about two thousand B.C. These people moved from Taiwan to the island through Southeast Asia. The culture of the island is strongly tied to the Chinese and Indian cultures. This is especially true as it pertains to Hindu culture. The first Europeans to have contacted the people on this island is thought to be the Dutch. In the late sixteenth century, Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman visited the island. During the nineteenth century, the Dutch began to exert economic and political control over the island. They accomplished these goals by starting wars between the various Balinese empires.
These empires were already distrustful of each other and the Dutch were able to ignite these tensions and as a result, increase their own control over Bali.
During the early twentieth century, the Dutch were able to capitalize fully on the groundwork they laid in a serios of military interventions. In 1946, Bali became one of the thirteen administratice districts of the newly created State of East Indonesia. Three years later, the Dutch formally recognized Indonesian independence and Bali became included into the Republic of the United States of Indonesia.
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Up until the past thirty years, the economy of Bali was based upon agriculture to a large degree. Today, the dynamic of the Balinese economy has change significantly and tourism now makes up the bulk of it. Today, tourism has made Bali one of the wealthiest regions in Indonesia. Over eighty percent of the entire economy depends on tourism. But, while tourism produces the greatest financial output of the island, agriculture still employs the greatest amount of workers. T
he agricultural sector of Bali is mainly concerned with rice production, but smaller crops such as coffee, fruit and vegatable are also significant. Bali is known for its coffee arabica which is processed using a wet method of production. This method makes a soft, sweet coffee that has a very desirable consistency. This coffee is often produce with citrus flavors such as lemon or orange.
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A popular attraction in Bali is West Bali National Park. This park is situated on the western end of Bali and covers an area of three hundred square miles. To the east of the park if Goris Village and to the west is Gilimanuk Seaport. Bali National Park is easily accessible by roads that lead from Singaraja and Gilimanuk. Visitors can also access the island using ferries from Ketapang. This national park contains a number of different environments which include coral forest, savannas, mangrove forest and Montane forest. In the middle of the park are four volcanic mountains that date all the way back to the Pleistocene Age.
The tallest of these mountains is Gunung Patas which rises over forty-six hundred feet. Inside Bali National Park there are over one hundred and sixty species of animals which include Dollar Birds, Wild Boars, King Fisher, Savannah Nightjar, Hawksbill Turtles, Flying Fox, Banteng, Orioles and Leopard Cats. It also contains a diverse collection of flora, much of which is on the endangered species list.
Some of the flora species represented in the park include Alstonia scholaris, Cassia fistula, Pterospermum diversifolium, Manilkara kauki, Antidesma bunius, Garcinia dulcis, Aleuritas moluccana, Dipterocarpus hasseltii, Lagerstroemia speciosa, Santalum album, Dalbergia latifolia, Schleichera oleosa and Steleochocarpus burahol. Mount Agung, also known as Gunung Agung, is another prominent attraction in Bali. This mountain is a stratovolcano and is also the highest point on the island. From the peak of the mountain, visitors can see Lombok Island. The last time Mount Agung erupted was during 1964 and it is still considered to be active.
How to Climb the Mountains
To climb up the mountain, visitors have two routes to chose from. The first one runs from Besakih and the second one starts from Pura Pasar Agung. Tanah Lot is another attraction that brings a lot of visitors to Bali. This rock formation is just off of Bali and contains a pilgrimage temple that is called Pura Tanah Lot. It is belived to have been the work of Nirartha, a fifteen century priest. Suppossedly, as he was traveling, he rested on the island. He was spotted by fishermen who brought him a variety of gifts.
Nirartha spent the night there and felt that it was a holy place. He then ordered the erection of the temple. Today, visitors are required to pay an entrance fee to access the area. In the area are a large number of souvenir shops and restaurants.