This enchanting island paradise is located in the Indonesian Archipelago, in the heart of the Indian Ocean. Covering 5,633km², the island is home to a chain of volcanoes, pristine crater lakes, luscious tropical forests, rice terraces and a rich ancestral culture that combines Hindu traditions and an Indo-Javanese artistic heritage, as evidenced by its numerous temples and the sacred ceremonies that are regularly held here. Inhabited by over 3 million people, the earthly Eden of Bali attracts hordes of visitors every year.
Located at the crossroads of merchant routes linking Europe, the Middle East, India and China, Bali's history bears witness to the passage of many distinct civilizations. Java, its neighbouring island, coveted Bali as early as the 11th century, and several Hindu dynasties settled here during the following centuries. Bali was colonised by the Dutch in 1597 and subsequently became an important trade post. In spite of this European presence, the Balinese managed to retain their ancestral traditions. The island finally gained its independence in 1949, only to suffer further under the brutal regime of Indonesian President Suharto from 1965 to 1998. Surprisingly, this period of repression did not prevent the island's economy from experiencing an upswing, mainly thanks to the development of its tourism industry.
Bali has much to offer visitors: the southern part of the island is home to such seaside resorts as Kuta, Sanur and the Bukit Peninsula, all of which boast spectacular white-sand beaches and a lively nightlife. For their part, outdoor enthusiasts will love the beautiful untamed landscapes found in the northern part of the island. Finally, the fascinating cultural and spiritual riches found in all of the small villages that dot the island will appeal to travellers with a taste for the exotic.