Indonesia has the largest collection of islands of varying sizes and land masses. The culture and geography of these islands vary widely, largely depending on their geographic location on Earth.
Indonesia is also a strategic economic trading partner for many nations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, mainly because of the geographic location of its thousands of islands.
It’s time to explore Bali and Indonesia in more depth, so enjoy learning more about Indonesia and Bali’s culture, religion, climate, history, and more. So, where are Bali and Indonesia Located on the World Map?
Where are Bali and Indonesia Located?
Indonesia is a nation that consists of a chain of several islands. Some are larger than others. Bali happens to be Indonesia’s 15th largest island. The island chain starts near Malaysia and ends close to Australia.
Bali and Indonesia Have Some Power
It may seem hard to believe, but Bali and Indonesia have some power. Both lie in major sea lanes that traverse East Asia, South Asia, Australia, and New Zealand (Oceania). Both islands also serve as conduits for trading routes by connecting East Asia, South Asia, and Oceania.
Some Facts about Indonesia
The islands that makeup Indonesia form to be the world’s largest archipelago. Indonesia comprises about 13,466 islands, varying in size, width, height, and length. Indonesia’s government has named about 8,844 of those islands. About 922 of those are static – they will never change in size and never disappear.
Five islands make up the bulk of Indonesia’s land mass. They are:
- New Guinea
The rest of Indonesia’s islands consist of two major island groups – Nusa Tenggara and the Maluku Islands, and sixty clusters of smaller islands. Indonesia shares four of its islands with other countries. These are:
- Borneo – which Malaysia and Brunei share
- Sebatik – it’s on the north side of the Kalimantan island and shares a border with Malaysia.
- Timor – it shares a border with East Timor
- New Guinea – shares a border with Papua New Guinea
Indonesia consists of 7.9 million kilometers of land mass and sea area. Its government claims an exclusive economic zone of 6,159,032 million square kilometers.
Indonesia’s islands straddle two continents, the Asian continent, and the Australian continent.
Bali and Indonesia’s Climate
Both the island and the country enjoy stable weather year-round. There are two seasons in the island chain – a wet season and a dry season. Indonesia’s dry season is from May to October. Expect the wet season to begin in November and end in April.
Different islands in Indonesia experience different levels of rainfall. Some islands receive negligible rainfall, while others get drenched during the rainy season and are semi-arid during the dry season.
Sulawesi and the islands that touch up against Australia and Timor tend to be more semi-arid. That said, some islands near both Australia and Timor are wetter. Most of Indonesia’s islands are surrounded by fairly warm water. About 81% of Indonesia’s water borders consist of warm areas.
Indonesia has plain areas on many of its islands’ coasts. These are about 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The temperature tends to drop slightly when you go further inland and to the mountainous regions. It averages about 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit there. Indonesia’s high mountain regions are chillier at an average of 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Most areas in Indonesia range between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit in humidity.
Bali and Indonesia are NOT the Same! Do You Know Why?
It’s common for different regions in the same country to be different in various areas, including culture, geography, and climate, among other things. It’s true in many parts of India, and it’s also true in Bali. Bali is part of Indonesia, but the two regions are completely different in many areas. One of these is religion.
How is Bali Different?
The Balinese dress differently than people in other Indonesian islands do. They also speak a different language than their compatriots in other parts of the huge island archipelago. Balinese have a different culture and cuisines than others who call other Indonesian islands home. Finally, the Balinese have different days and times of the year than other Indonesians (mainly because their calendars are different) and have different religious customs.
Most Indonesians are Muslims, but Most Balinese aren’t!
That’s right, the Muslim Population of Indonesia worship in Mosques, prays to Allah five times a day facing Mecca’s direction, and tries to make a pilgrimage to Medina at least once in their lives, if possible. Most Balinese are Hindus (about 80 %). That means the Balinese religion is many millennia older than the religion of 87% of the people living on Indonesia’s other islands!
Hindus tend to observe many more holidays than Muslims do, and they (Hindus) do so with color and liveliness. A good example of that is the Hindu festival of Holi. Hindus tend to do elaborate and 3-4 hour long religious ceremonies known as poojas to celebrate and worship the many personalities of the main god, Brahma, that characterize Hinduism, and Balinese Hindus are no different!
The Hindus who live in Bali also read various religious epics like the Bhagavad Gita, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana. These tell of religious stories and battles between people and Hindu gods like Krishna and Ram more than five thousand years ago!
Balinese Hindus tend to observe about 60 religious holidays annually. Also, unlike their Muslim counterparts, they tend to believe strongly in magic – white and black, witches, ghosts, and other spirits. The Islamic religion tends to call all of these harams and strongly condemns them!
Reincarnation is a major part of Hinduism. It revolves around believing that humans have souls, which are recyclable at death. Whatever the human’s action was at the time of death is what their soul will be reincarnated at when they die. For example, if the human ate beef at the time of death, the person would return as a cow in their next life. Balinese Hindus also believe in reincarnation.
The human soul (according to Hinduism) achieves a perfect state only after it has lived for several lifetimes. When a soul achieves this state (Nirvana in Hinduism), it gets to spend a limited amount of time in heaven with the Hindu Gods. Balinese Hindus, for the most part, strongly adhere to this belief.
Bali’s Culture Stands in a League of its Own!
A nation’s or region’s culture is strongly influenced by the religion most people observe, and Bali is no exception. Islam strongly colors the culture that 87% of Muslim Indonesians adhere to. And Hinduism strongly controls the culture that 80% of Balinese follow. It’s time to explore this in more depth.
But Bali’s culture is also strongly influenced by its long history – the same as any other region on Earth. Most people in Bali can trace their ancestry back to the Indian, Chinese, and Javanese people who moved to the island in the first century after Jesus died. Most were Hindu or Buddhist (Islam didn’t exist back then!), and their ancient cultures and religious beliefs strongly informed the cultural practices and beliefs that most Balinese follow today!
For example, since Hinduism is strongly spiritual, most Balinese do poojas that recognize their ancestors and various spirits – deceased and otherwise. They also leave various offerings for these spirits and deities during the poojas – most Hindus refer to these as a Prasad, but Balinese Hindus refer to these as Canang Sari. Incidentally, it’s not uncommon for the Hindu deities to offer the Hindu devotees Prasad. Hindus believe they must take Prasad from the gods, or they’ll experience bad luck.
The Prasad offered during Hindu Poojas often consists of various flowers, dry rice, money, betel nut, and various fruits.
Landmarks in Bali
Bali is known for many ornate and beautiful temples since most Hindus worship and perform Poojas in a temple or a Mandir. If you were to visit Bali, you could spend more than three years visiting temples if you visited a temple every day. That’s because Bali is home to more than 10,000 Hindu temples.
Most Balinese worship various deities at temples when they are very young and continue to do so during different life phases.
Principles of Balinese Hinduism
Three core principles inform and define Hinduism in Bali:
- Maintain the spiritual and emotional connection between humans and the various deities
- Respect the environment. Only a healthy environment will sustain human life in the long term.
- Make sure that people respect each other and that there is generally political, social, and cultural harmony among people on the island.
Balinese people strongly prefer their island to have general spiritual, social, and political harmony!
The Balinese invest significant resources, time, and effort in maintaining, repairing, and beautifying their thousands of temples since that’s crucial to properly observing Hindu beliefs and rituals.
Hinduism assigns different temples and Mandirs to different deities since Hindus believe that the deities’ spirits live in the temples. The idols are just physical manifestations of these deities, and their souls and spiritual aura emanate from the various idols, often decorated with gold jewelry and precious stones. Balinese Hindus also adhere to these core and widespread Hindu beliefs.
Bali may have different villages, and each village tends to have one or more of three different types of temples:
- Pura Puseh – these are considered to be temples of origin. They are built to honor the main God’s creation of Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma is the main god in Hinduism. All other Hindu gods are said to originate from him and are just different versions or manifestations of this supreme godhead personality.
Incidentally, Hindus (including those living in Bali) believe that Lord Brahma creates all people and everyone in life since he’s the essence of the universe.
- Pura Desa Bale Agung – these are built to worship and honor the god who gives life. Hindus (including Balinese Hindus) refer to him as Lord Vishnu.
- Pura Dalem – these worship the goddess Durga who controls death and reincarnation in Hinduism.
As is the case with all major religions, visitors must dress according to a certain dress code to attend the temples. That’s especially the case if they want to attend certain sacred sections of the temples. Of course, this is also true with Islam; women can’t enter temples at all during their periods.
Dressing Up in Bali
If you’re a tourist or a local, you’re doing fine in Bali if you dress modestly. That’s especially true if you’re a woman. While you don’t have to wear the Hijab there if you’re a woman, remember that it wouldn’t be wise for you to dress as Britney Spears or Beyonce during one of their stage performances.
Bali and Indonesia are part of the world’s largest island chain. Indonesia has a unique culture that its religion, history, climate, and geography have strongly influenced.
That’s also especially true of Bali since Bali is unique to both Indonesia and the world. Now you know Where are Bali and Indonesia Located on the World Map!