Bali is an island and the smallest province of Indonesia, and includes a few smaller neighbouring islands, notably Nusa Penida. It is located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java to the west and Lombok to the east, and has its capital of Denpasar at the southern part of the island. With a population of 3,890,757 in the 2010 census, and currently 4.22 million, the island is home to most of Indonesia's Hindu minority.
According to the 2010 Census, 84.5% of Bali's population adhered to Balinese Hinduism while most of the remainder followed Islam. Bali is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. A tourist haven for decades, the province has seen a further surge in tourist numbers in recent years.
The island of Bali lies 3.2 km (2 mi) east of Java, and is approximately 8 degrees south of the equator. Bali and Java are separated by the Bali Strait. East to west, the island is approximately 153 km (95 mi) wide and spans approximately 112 km (69 mi) north to south; administratively it covers 5,780 sq km, or 5,577 sq km without Nusa Penida District, its population density is roughly 750 people/ sq km. Bali's central mountains include several peaks over 3,000 metres in elevation.
The highest is Mount Agung (3,031 m), known as the "mother mountain" which is an active volcano. Mountains range from centre to the eastern side, with Mount Agung the easternmost peak. Bali's volcanic nature has contributed to its exceptional fertility and its tall mountain ranges provide the high 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. 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. The longest river, Ayung River, flows approximately 75 km.
The tourism industry is primarily focused in the south, while significant in the other parts of the island as well. The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta (with its beach), and its outer suburbs of Legian and Seminyak (which were once independent townships), the east coast town of Sanur (once the only tourist hub), in the center of the island Ubud, to the south of the Ngurah Rai International Airport, Jimbaran, and the newer development of Nusa Dua and Pecatu.
The American government lifted its travel warnings in 2008. The Australian government last issued an advice on Friday, 4 May 2012. The overall level of the advice was lowered to 'Exercise a high degree of caution'. The Swedish government issued a new warning on Sunday, 10 June 2012 because of one more tourist who has been killed by methanol poisoning.
An offshoot of tourism is the growing real estate industry. Bali real estate has been rapidly developing in the main tourist areas of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Oberoi. Most recently, high-end 5 star projects are under development on the Bukit Peninsula, on the south side of the island. Million dollar villas are being developed along the cliff sides of south Bali, commanding panoramic ocean views. Foreign and domestic (many Jakarta individuals and companies are fairly active) investment into other areas of the island also continues to grow. Land prices, despite the worldwide economic crisis, have remained stable.
In the last half of 2008, Indonesia's currency had dropped approximately 30% against the US dollar, providing many overseas visitors value for their currencies. Visitor arrivals for 2009 were forecast to drop 8% (which would be higher than 2007 levels), due to the worldwide economic crisis which has also affected the global tourist industry, but not due to any travel warnings.