The northern region of Buleleng stretches from east to west in a narrow coastal strip backing onto foothills that reach up to the central mountain ranges. Along the coastline rice fields reach almost to the sea, and there are a series of lovely secluded beaches, perfect for watersports and skin-diving, with colourful underwater coral grottos.
The Kingdom of Buleleng rose to power during the 17th Century, under the ladership of Gusti Pandji Sakti,who extended his realm of authority to the neighboring kingdoms of Karangasem and Jembrana. An association with Mengwi lasted till the end of the 18th Century, when the two kingdoms separated again and lost their powers to the warring princes of Karangasem.
Dutch control began in 1848, ending the feudal rule of the Rajas. The women of Buleleng were the first to adopt the Kebaya Malay blouse which was enforced by Dutch rule to protect the morals of the Dutch soldiers. Singaraja was chosen by the Dutch because of its excellent harbour as their capital.
The Banjar system of sub-village communities in North Bali is not as institutionalizes as it is in South Bali. The way of life centres more around the individual family with the accompanying effect that the caste system is not as rigid as in the south.
Singaraja’s long history as the major port in Bali has resulted in a mixed population of Muslims and Chinese as well as the indigenous Balinese. The city was always a trading centre for the Bugis sea traders, former pirates who operated throughout the archipelago from their home ports in Sulawesi.
Chinese influence from the merchants who have made Singaraja their home for thousands of years is also quite apparent, the long association with the Dutch has resulted in many imposing residences of European design. Hotel Singaraja was the former seat of the Dutch Governor.
The Gedung Kertya, the most extensive library of ancient lontars, palm-leaf books containing a wealth of manuscripts on history, liteature, medicine and mythology, just near the hotel Singaraja, was first established by the Dutch.