Facts About Bali

Facts about Bali, a popular tourist island in Indonesia:

PEOPLE: Most of Bali's 3 million people are Hindu, unlike the rest of Indonesia's 207 million people who are predominantly Muslim. Most are indigenous islanders, but many come from other parts of Indonesia. In urban centers, there are small Indian, Arab, and ethnic Chinese communities. Bali has a relaxed lifestyle and culture, which unlike many other parts of Indonesia is tolerant of alcohol consumption and the demands of Western vacationers, including night life.

POLITICS: Bali has remained relatively immune from the political, religious and ethnic strife that has wracked the country for the past five years during its transition from three decades of dictatorship to democracy. Most Balinese supported President Megawati Sukarnoputri's party in the last elections in 1999.

ECONOMY: Known as the Island of the Gods, Bali has been one of the world's most popular tourist destination for decades. The likelihood of the blast scaring away hundreds of thousands of tourists could be a devastating blow to not only the island's economy but that of the whole of Indonesia, which is struggling to recover from the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. Kuta, where the deadly bomb blast occurred, is the epicenter of the tourist trade. It is filled with hundreds of restaurants, cheap hotels and gift shops. Almost every night, the streets are filled with tourists dancing and drinking until the wee hours of the morning. The island also has a handicraft industry and agriculture.

GEOGRAPHY: Bali is a small tropical island measuring approximately 90 miles by 60 miles and is one of 17,508 islands that comprise Indonesia. Located about 560 miles east of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, Bali is best known for its luxury holiday resorts, black sand beaches, hundreds of Hindu temples, sweeping coastlines and dozens of volcanoes.