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Thursday 23rd May
Bali Information - Page 2
Stone tools have been found on Bali indicating that the region has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Early in its history the island was visited by Indian traders who brought Hinduism to Bali.

Neighbouring Java ruled Bali at various periods. In the eleventh century a dynastic marriage united Java and Bali for a time. In the sixteenth century many Javanese Hindus were driven to Bali by Muslim invaders.

The Dutch arrived in Bali at the end of the sixteenth century. Dutch traders were mainly occupied with neighbouring Java until Sir Stamford Raffles (who later established the British colony in Singapore) visited Bali at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Dutch interest in the island revived but it was not until 1906 that the Netherlands took control of Bali.

Japanese forces occupied Bali for three years in the Second World War (1939-1945). Following the War, Bali eventually became part of a province of the Indonesian republic led by President Sukarno.

Bali's tourist industry and the sale of its crafts have been important to the Indonesian economy for a number of years. Balinese textiles have become known throughout the world.

Rice is Bali's principal crop and the terraced hillsides used for cultivating rice are a distinctive part of the Balinese landscape. Rice farmers are organised into co-operatives, sharing water for irrigation. Other crops include coffee, sugarcane, maize, vanilla, coconuts, fruit and tobacco. Seaweed (used in cooking to thicken sauces) is farmed and salt is collected from seawater. Cattle, pigs and ducks are kept. The fish catch includes sardines and tuna.

Balinese art is traditionally collective work, usually religious. Cloth paintings are hung in temples and shrines. Hangings show scenes of a story set out in consecutive boxes, often with themes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Crafts include puppet making, polished wooden statues carved in teak hardwood, carved wooden masks made for dances, volcanic stone carvings and artefacts fashioned from tortoiseshell, silver and gold.

Gamelan orchestras, consisting mainly of percussion instruments, accompany wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre) and traditional dancing. Dance and drama are often combined: Barong and Rangda is based on the battle between good and evil and Lelong is a graceful dance performed by young girls.

The Bali Arts Festival is a month-long celebration of Balinese music, dance and visual arts.

The coastal waters of Bali provide ample opportunities for sailing, surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving. The wreck of the USS Liberty, torpedoed in the Second World War, is home to a variety of sea creatures and is a popular dive site.

Bali has numerous religious festivals throughout the year and an annual arts festival.

News from Indonesia is available in Newslink.

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