15 facts about Java, Bali and Lombok

08 February 2021

1. Karangasem: former name of Amlapura

After its partial destruction during the Agung volcano eruption in 1963, the city of Karangasem changed its name to Amlapura.
Karangasem, the former significant kingdom of Bali, now designates Bali's eastern region with about 400,000 inhabitants. This region, which includes "the mother temple of Bali" Besakih, is bordered to the east by the Strait of Lombok, the central passage between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

2. What the population of Jakarta?

Second, only to Tokyo (Japan), Jakarta (with its agglomeration) is the 2nd most populated city in the world.
Jakarta (9.59 million) Bogor Regency (4.76 million) Tangerang Regency (2.84 million) Bekasi Regency (2.63 million) Bekasi Municipality (2.38 million) Tangerang Municipality (1.80 million) Depok Municipality (1.75 million) South Tangerang Municipality (1.30 million) Bogor Municipality (950,000)
Its density is more than 1600 inhabitants per Km2. Because of this megalopolis's overpopulation, in August 2019, the Indonesian President decided to change the location of the country's capital to East Borneo. The first moves of government agencies are planned for the year 2025.

3. What is Bali Aga?

Bali still has 2 "Bali Aga" villages in 2021:

Trunyan on Lake Batur and Tenganan near Candidasa

These two typical villages preserve original ways of life with very particular rites and customs that are their own. The term "Bali Aga" ("the Balinese of the mountains") can be considered pejorative by its inhabitants, who prefer the name "Bali Mula" ("the original Balinese"). Against a free donation at the village entrance, it is possible to visit the Tenganan and admire this splendid village nestled at the bottom of a deep valley.

4.The eruption of the Samalas volcano: a European disaster

In 1257, the volcano Samalas entered the most crucial eruption of the last 10 000 years. Vast clouds of ashes (up to 43 kilometers in altitude) covered the northern hemisphere, causing, for several years, severe climatic alterations (and therefore harvests) in Europe and leading to significant famines (London, Paris, Italy). The capital (at the time) of Lombok, Pamalan, was destroyed and covered with several tens of ashes.

The Samalas volcano, after its total explosion, gave way to the Rinjani volcano (3726m) as well as to the last active volcanic cone, the Barujari ("The new finger" in Indonesian), located at the edge of a crater lake, the Segara Anak.

5. Java population

The most populated countries are:

  1. China: 1,439,000,000 inhabitants
  2. India: 1,380,000,000 inhabitants
  3. United States: 331,000,000 inhabitants
  4. Indonesia: 273,000,000 inhabitants
  5. Pakistan: 220,000,000 inhabitants
  6. Brazil: 212,000,000 inhabitants
  7. Nigeria: 206,000,000 inhabitants
  8. Bangladesh: 164,000,000 inhabitants
  9. Russia: 145,000,000 inhabitants
  10. Mexico: 128,000,000 inhabitants

The island of Java (with the attached islands) with 145,000,000 inhabitants would be in 9th place (like Russia).

The island of Java represents about 60% of the total Indonesian population.

6. Unique ritual of the villagers of Trunyan

Only the Bali Aga village of Trunyan proceeds in this way for its dead: Thanks to the sacred tree, the Banyan, which has the property to neutralize the odors of decomposition of the bodies, the inhabitants of this village leave the bodies of the dead, on the ground, in the street, generally protected by bamboo fences (to limit the appetites of various animals). After total decomposition of the body, the skull is then removed and placed prominently on an altar, away from the village. This ritual is reserved for married people: for others, they are simply buried in an adjacent cemetery.

7.Bali Lombok ferry

The only public ferry company that connects Bali to Lombok departs from Padang Bai to reach the city of Lembar to Lombok in 4/6 hours (depending on the sea state). This ferry crosses the Strait of Lombok, the primary connection between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. You can also reach Lombok from Bali by fast boats from Padang Bai, Amed, or Serangan. Namely: the unpredictable and challenging sea conditions in the strait frequently lead to delays and cancellations.

8. Java: 10 times longer than Bali

The island of Java, from West to East, measures about 1000kms, the equivalent as the crow flies, between

  • Brest (France) and Stuttgart (Germany);
  • Athens (Greece) and Rome (Italy);
  • St Petersburg (Russia) and Oslo (Norway);
  • New Orleans (USA) and Havana (Cuba);
  • Hanoi (Vietnam) and Bangkok (Thailand).

FYI Bali from West to East measures about 120kms

9. Mount Batok

The "Bromo Tenger Semeru National Park'' includes several volcanoes, including the Batok (2440m). Inactive and with an emblematic profile, it is located a few meters west of Bromo (2329m - active) in the Tengger sand sea heart. Its ascent is possible with the help of a local professional guide. Semeru (3676m) is the highest volcano in Java. It is active, and since December 2020, it has been erupting explosively. For more information:

10. The Lake of the Goddess Danu

At the beginning of the 20th century, an earthquake separated Lake Beratan into three separate lakes: Lake Beratan, Lake Buyan, and Lake Tamblingan. On Lake Beratan, the temple built in 1633 in honor of Dewi Danu, the goddess of lakes and rivers, is one of Bali's significant temples. The elaborate system of subaks transports the lake water, of excellent quality, to Bali's southern plain.

11. Tobacco: the "economic lung" of Lombok

With an annual production of 520 billion cigarettes (2020), Indonesia is the 2nd largest tobacco consumer globally (behind China and Russia). About 70% of men (and 3% of women) are considered smokers (about 100 million smokers in total in Indonesia). The Kraksaan region (Java) and Lombok region stand out for tobacco production. 85% of smokers prefer Kretek (70% tobacco + clove oil). The very particular smell of these cigarettes is practically considered a national olfactory emblem.

12. Communism in Indonesia

The Indonesian Communist Party was, until 1965, the 3rd largest party in the world in terms of the number of members (3.5 million). During his military coup, Soeharto dissolved and banned communism in Indonesia (between 500,000 and 3 million supposed communists were killed during and after the coup). The laws are the same today, so communism is still formally prohibited, as is terrorism and drug use. In 2014, a Malaysian tourist, wearing a T-shirt bought in Vietnam (which showed the hammer and sickle), was arrested in Bali and imprisoned for communist proselytizing. See Joshua Oppenheimer’s films: “The Act of Killing” (2012) and “The look of silence” (2014) about the period of the coup.

13. Bali and multiple spirituality

Unique in the world, the Puja Mandala gathers five different religious buildings in the same place: a Hindu temple, a Muslim mosque, a Catholic church, a Protestant temple, and a Buddhist temple. Inaugurated in 1997, it is supposed to demonstrate the freedom of worship and religious pluralism in Bali. The architecture of each building is specific so that everyone can gather according to their beliefs and aspirations.

14. Sasak people - who are they?

About 80% of the island of Lombok's population is from the Sasak ethnic group (about 2 000 000 people). The rest of the people of Lombok is of Javanese, Balinese, Chinese and Arab origin. They are genuine Muslims. They practice Islam tinged with pantheistic and Hindu inspirations and are overly attached to their specific cultural heritage (music with the drums of Gendang Belek, poetry, and duck fights). Not to be missed: the unique festivities of "Bau Nyale" gathers all the Sasak on the beach of Seger in homage to the sublime legendary Princess Madalika. (Sirsak is a fruit and The Dayaks a Borneo ethnic group)

15. Independence day in Indonesia

The date of the National Holiday is August 17, about the proclamation of independence of Soekarno on August 17, 1945, whereas the real independence will be sufficient only on December 27, 1949. During the preceding weeks, you can see the enthusiasm of school children proudly practicing for the annual parade on the roads all over Indonesia, ostensibly displaying the national flag's white and red colors.

Check your knowledge of Java, Bali and Lombok with our travel quiz!


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