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History of Bali

Updated on January 4, 2012

For centuries Bali's history has been closely linked with eastern Java, where most of Bali's population came from. Although remaining outside the control of the famous Srivijaya empire, which ruled much of Indonesia from the 7th to the 13th century A.D., Bali fell under the control of East Java about 1000 A.D. King Airlangga, who ruled over East Java in the mid-11th century, came originally from Bali. In the late 13th century, Bali came under the domination of the East Javanese Singosari-Majapahit empire.

When the Majapahit rulers were overthrown by Muslims in the early 16th century, many Javanese priests, scholars, and artists took refuge in Bali, bringing with them their religion, philosophy, art, and skills. Bali has remained a repository of Majapahit religion and culture.

Although Bali was visited by the Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman in 1596, the island remained free of European incursions until the 1840's when the Dutch sent two expeditions against it. Although these met with fierce resistance, the Dutch took some land, and the island's local rulers made formal acknowledgment of Dutch suzerainty. It was the end of the 19th century, however, before the Dutch gained firm control of the north, and 1906 before they wrested the south from the native Hindu princes in a cruel massacre.

Bali was occupied by the Japanese during World War II, retaken by the Dutch in 1945, and later made a state of the new Republic of the United States of Indonesia. On Indonesia's reorganization in 1950 it was made a province.

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