Culture and religion

Bali is the only island in the ‘Emerald Belt’ where Islam has hardly penetrated. The Hindu culture, modified to the Balinese circumstances, dominates the island; 90% of Balinese are Hindu. You will see the Hindu culture everywhere, expressed in the many temples and the unique processions.

Bali is also called the ‘Island of the Gods’. Every village has at least three temples. There are small temples at crossings, hill tops, mountains and sawas. Of course every house has its own temple(s) as well. Religion on Bali is entwined with daily life. This is reflected in, among other things, the famous Balinese dances and the ceremonies. In general the population is very friendly towards tourists, giving you the opportunity to experience the local and religious traditions from up close.


The typical Balinese culture has different values and customs from the ones we are used to in our Western society. When you visit a temple, you have to wear a sarong and a slendang (sash) around the waist. You can often rent these at the entrance to a temple. For non-Hindu’s it’s forbidden to enter the inner sanctuary of a temple. Women are considered unclean during their period and are therefore not allowed to visit temples. When visiting a temple a small contribution is normally made. The money will be used for maintenance. It’s advisable to ask for permission when taking pictures of people in religious places or of people performing a ceremony. Taking pictures of military buildings is strictly forbidden.


Bali has many volcanoes. The chain of volcanoes determines the relief of the Balinese landscape. The highest peak on the island is Gunung Agung (Mount Agung), the Holy Volcano (3,100m). Another famous volcano and tourist attraction is the Gunung Batur (1,700m). Both are situated in the North-West. Bali has a varied landscape due to past volcanic activity and the tropical climate. The volcanic soil is very fertile, as a result of which various plants, trees and crops grow in abundance. Agriculture is an important source of income. The most important Balinese crop is rice and here one can find the famous sawas; wet rice fields which are mainly laid out in stepped terraces. Other important crops are coffee, tobacco, spices and fruit.
The Southern part of Bali is relatively flat. Situated close to the capital of Denpasar are the major tourist areas such as Kuta and Sanur. The Balinese people mainly live outdoors, both at work and at home in the village. More than 85% of the islanders live and work in the countryside, 10% are employed in the tourism industry.