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Bali Population & Economy




Bali's population has grown to over 3 million people the overwhelming majority of which are Hindus. However, the number of Muslims is steadily increasing through immigration of people from Java, Lombok and other areas of Indonesia who seek work in Bali. Being mostly Hindus, the Balinese prefers pork rather than cow’s meat. If you are a pork lover, you are in for a treat. Here in Bali, there are numerous stalls selling roasted pig and Bu Orka in Ubud has the best reputation of all.

Most people live in the coastal areas in the South, and the island's largest town and administrative center is fast growing Denpasar with a population of now over 370,000. The villages between the town of Ubud and Denpasar, Kuta (including Jimbaran, Tuban, and Legian, Seminyak, Basangkasa, etc), Sanur, and Nusa Dua are spreading rapidly in all directions, and before long the whole area from Ubud in the North to Sanur in the East, Berawa/Canggu in the West, and Nusa Dua in the South will be urbanized. Many Balinese believe in giving offerings to their Gods so be careful not to step on these offerings especially the ones placed outside main doors. All you need to do is to side-step them and continue with your walk. Easy!



This southern part of Bali is where most jobs are to be found, either in the hotel and tourist industry, the textile and garment industry, and in many small scale and home industries producing handicrafts and souvenirs. Textiles, garments, and handicrafts have become the backbone of Bali's economy providing 300,000 jobs, and exports have been increasing by around 15% per year to over US$400 million. Textiles and garments contribute about 45%, and wood products including statues, furniture and other handicrafts 22% to the province's total income from exports. Silver work is ranked third (4.65%) with 5,000 workers employed. Main buyers are the US and Europe with 38% each, and Japan with 9%. If you are into Silver jewelleries, get them from the Ubud craft market as they are cheaper there where you are able to haggle over prices as compared to buying them from the Silver factory.

Three decades ago, the Balinese economy was largely agriculture based both in terms of output and employment. Tourism is now the largest single industry and Bali is as a result one of Indonesia’s wealthiest regions. The economy, however, has suffered significantly as a result of the terrorist bombings of 2002 and 2005. Until today you can clearly see that the Balinese are still struggling to get back their footing in the economy. Many smaller traders who cannot withstand the shortfall in trade has to close their business. Many tries to sell off their stocks via slashed prices with big notices on their front door informing everyone of their “great sales”. This is the very reason why one could get great buys in Bali. We actually traveled there with few clothes in hand but managed to buy a suitcase of working attire as well as casual clothes back.

Although in terms of output, tourism is the economy’s largest industry, agriculture is still the island’s biggest employer, most notably rice cultivation.


Important agricultural products besides rice are tea, coffee, tobacco, cacao, copra, vanilla, soy beans, chilies, fruit, and vegetable (there are now even vineyards near the northwest coast). Bali's fishing industry and seaweed farming provide other products which are important exports.

The new free-trade regulations will create some problems for Bali's exporters as they do not allow to employ children. Most children here work for their parents, and this is part of the process of acquiring professional skills and kind of an informal education which has been very important in the Balinese society for centuries. You can still see them selling handicrafts to tourist especially in the tourist attraction areas. It is very hard to resist from buying from them as they are really in need of financial help. But to buy from them is also to encourage child labor and this usually leaves tourist in a bout. To buy or not to buy is the question that only you can answer.

Crops grown in smaller amounts include fruit, vegetables and other cash and subsistence crops. A significant number of Balinese are also fishermen whose beautifully decorated boats are in main display along the beaches.


Bali is also famous for its artisans who produce batik and ikat cloth and clothing as well as stone carving.


Although significant tourism exists in the north, centre and east of the island, the tourist industry is overwhelmingly focused in the south. The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta (with its beach), and its outer suburbs (which were once independent townships) of Legian and Seminyak, Sanur, Jimbaran, Ubud, and the newer development of Nusa Dua. The Ngurah Rai International Airport is located near Jimbaran, on the isthmus joining the southernmost part of the island to the main part of the island. Another increasingly important source of income for Bali is what is called "Congress Tourism" from the frequent international conferences held on the island, especially after the terrorist bombings of 2002; ostensibly to resurrect Bali's damaged tourism industry as well as its tarnished image.


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