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The island of Bali is actually a province of the country of Indonesia, and so it has a lot of common history with the rest of the country. Starting in the 1st century AD, the culture of Bali was influenced by traders and settlers from a combination of cultures that included Indian, Chinese, and especially Hindu cultures.

The Hindu Majapahit Empire on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. When the empire declined, there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests, and musicians from Java to Bali in the 15th century.

The first European contact with Bali is thought to have been made In 1585 by Portuguese explorers who shipwrecked off the coast of Bali; when they left, a few Portuguese stayed behind to serve the kings of Bali. A few years later, a Dutch explorer arrived in Bali and set up an outpost of the Dutch East India Company, which had a lot of influence in all of Indonesia during this time. In the end, like the rest of Indonesia, Bali became part of the Dutch colonies.

Similar to other countries controlled by colonial powers, Bali experienced periods of civil unrest and struggled to be free. Bali was part of the political structure of Indonesia when independence from the Netherlands was declared in 1945.

An important part of modern history for Bali includes the first development of western tourism in the 1930’s – this trend was interrupted during World War I I when Japan occupied the island of Bali as well as the neighboring islands of Indonesia. However, today, tourism has revived and is Bali’s main source of revenue.


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