Denpasar – Indonesia
The capital city of the Indonesian Province of Bali, Denpasar is the island’s largest urban centre and the capital of its major tourist area, the Badung Regency. The city has eclipsed all the other urban centres on the island, as it has become a primary economic node that integrates government, commercial and tourism activities. Denpasar also has a very vibrant cultural and arts precinct, and a range of new health, retail and service industries that are meeting the increasing demands of tourists, expatriates and the island’s growing middle classes. Denpasar’s urban core of has a population of around 492,000 people and covers an area of 77.9 square kilometres.
Denpasar is a frenetic, poorly planned and rapidly growing city. It has many of the urban living and sustainability problems that are common to many Indonesian cities, including poor administration, crime, homelessness, inadequate sanitation, poor water supplies, polluted waterways, atmospheric pollution and ethnic tension. However, the city and its surrounding urban districts are also a significant cosmopolis: along with the vast numbers of international tourists, there are significant international expatriate communities living in the area. The Denpasar workforce is comprised of native Balinese as well as large numbers of Indonesians from other part of the archipelago—Java, Lonbok, Suluwesi, Flores and Nusa Tengara.
While the Balinese have always had the habit of blaming other Indonesians, especially Javanese, for crime and other forms of social rupture, the pressures of overdevelopment, rapid social change and Islamic terrorism have intensified many underlying ethnic tensions.
Modernization has imposed very substantial changes on ritual life, social relationships and the cultural fabric. Caught within this modernizing vortex, many younger Balinese in particular are turning away from ritual life and practices. Removed from the security and familiarity of village life, a number of younger Balinese are moving to the Badung district in search of work and prosperity. While many do find work, others drift into crime.
The large and powerful vested interests in the Balinese tourism and property development industries continue to assert a disproportionate influence over the state and its processes of urban and environmental planning. While there are pockets of resistance, environmentalists and cultural conservationists are generally cast aside in the continued pressure for further development. The Badung district has very little public space and even less clear public infrastructure goals. Drainage and water management is poor, and most of the maritime environment and waterways in Badung are heavily polluted. Environmental regulations, where they exist at all, are largely ignored by developers and resort and commercial interests.