The nation of Indonesia stretch out for more than 3,200 miles in the Indian Ocean, in a location that basically "sits" to the north of Australia. With that large a geographic span, and with somewhere around 18,000 individual islands, Indonesia is often referred to as the world's largest archipelago.(View map location)
Bali is without question, one of the best known islands in Indonesia, and is located a little "left of center" in the archipelago, with the island of Java to the west and the island of Lombok to the east. Bali is similar to a "state" in the United States, as one of the country's 33 provinces, with the capital city of Denpasar located towards the south of the island.
With a population of around 4,000,000, as much as 90% are Balinese Hindus, with most of the remainder following Islam, and then also Christianity. bali is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, wood carving and music.
Bali's volcanic mountains stretch across the middle of the island from the west to the east, and include several peaks over 9,000 feet in elevation. The highest is Mount Agung (9,944'), known as the "mother mountain" and is an active volcano near the east coast. Bali's volcanic nature has contributed to its exceptional fertility and the tall mountain ranges provide a substantial rainfall that supports the highly productive agriculture sector.
South of the mountains is a broad, steadily descending area where most of Bali's large rice crop is grown, being almost exclusively plowed, planted, and harvested using traditional manual labor methods. The Jatiluwi rice terraces in the center of the island have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and are a common tourist destination. The northern side of the mountains slopes more steeply to the sea and is the main coffee producing area of the island, along with rice, vegetables and cattle. Bali's longest river, the Ayung, originates on the southern slopes of the mountains and is also popular with tourists as an exciting river rafting destination.
As is to be expected for an island, most of Bali's people and activities are found around it's beaches. The beaches in the south tend to have white sand while those in the north and west have black sand.
For many years now, Bali has been listed either at—or close to—the top of rankings for the "The World's Best Island" destination, by well-known international travel magazines like Travel & Leisure. (And visitor arrival numbers continue to document the truth of those rankings.) The combination of friendly, hospitable people, the physical beauty of the island, a magnificently visual culture infused with spirituality, spectacular beaches with great surfing and diving, and the year-round pleasant climate all contribute to Bali's consistent ranking as one of the world's best islands.
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