Bali – Indonesia
Where am I?
Bali is a small island, more or less in the middle of the Republic of Indonesia, which currently is divided into 32 provinces. Bali constitutes a province, the smallest in terms of area and highly populated. There are about three million people. For rural Balinese life expectancy is 64.6 years and 61.1 years for people living in urban areas.
To be precise, the census held in June 2000 indicated a population of 3,124,674 people, a population growth of 1.22 per cent. between 1990 and 2000 and a population density of 555 people per square kilometre.
According to Raffles in his History of Java:
“The natives of Bali, although of the same original stock with the Javans, exhibit several striking differences, not only in their manners and the degree of civilization they have attained, but in their features and bodily appearance. They are above the middle size of the Asiatics, and exceed both in stature and muscular power, either the Javan or the Malayu.”
Bali measures about 150 kilometers (90 miles) east to west and about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north to south. The area is a little over 5,000 square kilometers (2,100 square miles) or 0.29 per cent. of the total area of Indonesia. It lies about 8 or 9 degrees south of the equator and between 114.6 and 115.5 east longitude. Bali has about 1,500 traditional villages.
The famous Wallace line, which divides the lush vegetation of sub-tropical Asia from the arid landscape of Australia, runs along the narrow strait that separates Bali from Lombok, which is its nearest neighbouring island to the east. Java is to the west.
Bali is about 95 per cent. Hindu or rather Bali-Hindu.
And, of course, you are also in Indonesia, which is the fourth most populous country in the world, currently about 203 million inhabitants, only overtaken by the Peoples’ Republic of China, India and the United States. (The Roman Empire had a population of 100 million.) It is also the biggest Muslim nation in the world: about 90 per cent. of all Indonesians are Muslim. There are 250 ethnic groups. The country is a diverse entity – the Indonesian motto is “Unity in Diversity”, a statement of fact and hope.
A British scholar coined the word “Indonesia” in 1850 from the Greek words “indos” meaning “Indian” and “nesoi” meaning “islands”.
Indonesia is a very long chain of islands, over 13,677. Nobody is quite sure how many. About 3,000 are populated. It is the largest archipelago in the world. The whole country is 5.19 million square kilometers, of which 1.9 million is land and 3.2 million ocean.
From the northwest tip of Sumatra to the southeast corner of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) the distance is about 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles), greater than that between London and Moscow. This enormous span is 46 degrees longitude or about an eighth of the earth’s circumference, if measured at the equator. The circumference of the earth is about 40,000 kilometers (24,000 miles).
Dutch colonialism effectively defined Indonesia’s modern borders. The 1945 Constitution states that the Republic of Indonesia encompasses “the areas that were formerly the Netherlands East Indies.”
The capital, Jakarta, called Batavia under the Dutch, is the most crowded place in Indonesia. There are almost 8.4 million people with an astonishing density rate of 946 people per square kilometre. It is in West Java, Bali’s westerly neighbouring island. Java is the most densely populated island in the world and possesses over half of Indonesia’s population (about 120 million). It is about 1,000 kilometers (600+ miles) away from Bali.
The census held in June 2000 indicated a population for the whole country of 203,456,005 people, a population growth of 1.35 per cent. between 1990 and 2000 and an average population density of 106 people per square kilometre. Life expectancy is 63 years.
Indonesia is one of the world’s primary oil-producing countries and is the most dominant country in ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations. ASEAN, formed in 1967 with the purpose of promoting economic cooperation had its first summit meeting of leaders in 1976 and comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei joined in 1984 and Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1990s.
Every year several hundred inches of rain fall on most of Bali. This has resulted in the growth of dense tropical forests, which would have covered the island until about 1,000 years ago when the irrigation system was instituted. Today there are forests only at high elevations and in the west of the island.
The western forest, which is now a national park, was home for tigers until Europeans hunted them to extinction at the beginning of the 20th century. There are still a few rare species of birds found only in these parts, such as the Rothschild mynah.
Bali has a uniform temperature throughout the year. The average annual temperature is 27 C or 81 F.
There are three reasons for this:
Heat comes from the earth, which absorbs the sun’s radiation and is re-radiated and absorbed by moisture in the air. Bali’s constant high humidity therefore provides constant uniform temperatures.
Proximity to water
Water absorbs a lot of heat without changing the temperature very much. The same applies to cooling. Water tends to have more even temperatures than land. This modifies the temperature on the land. Nowhere in Bali is more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the sea, so this effect is felt all over the whole island.
Bali’s location near the equator results in relatively uniform lengths of day and night, which itself results in uniform temperatures.
There are only two seasons: the wet season and the dry season. In December, January and February the average rainfall in Denpasar is about 12 inches (300 mm) per month and the rest of the year 4 inches (100 mm) per month. The figures change depending on altitude.
The principal reason for the two seasons is wind direction. During the dry season it blows from Australia in the southeast (over dry deserts during Australia’s winter) and during the wet season from southwest to west blowing over the wet Indian Ocean picking up a lot of moisture and dumping it upon Bali’s mountains.
El Niño, which means “boy child” in Spanish, is a Pacific Ocean climate pattern that has been evident for thousands of years. It is an abnormal warming of the waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which happens every two to seven years. It can bring drought to some areas of the world and heavy rainfall to others. It was first reported by Latin American fishermen and named after the Christ child because it is usually seen around Christmas.
The last appearances were in 1982-83, 1993-94 and 1997-98. In 1997-98, which was extremely severe, El Niño’s warm sea temperatures and lack of trade winds caused severe drought, which combined with forest fires in Sumatra and other Indonesian islands, blanketed the region for several months. Bali was lucky. The wind did not carry the smoke to Bali.
Bali – Indonesia