Bali is a small island province of Indonesia and the country's most popular tourist destination. The island also has been the site of several terrorist attacks. As of December 2009 the U.S. State Department had listed no standing travel warnings or advisories for American visitors on its website. However, a number of other Western governments, including those of Australia and New Zealand, continue to warn their citizens to avoid travel to Bali, and advise those who do decide to go to exercise extreme caution.
Tourist safety in Bali has been of special concern in the wake of terrorist bombings that targeted foreigners in 2002 (more than 200 killed) and 2005 (20 killed and more than 100 injured). Bombers also targeted foreigners in other parts of Indonesia, notably in the capital of Jakarta, which was the site of bombings in August 2003, September 2004 and July 2009. Authorities implicated members of the radical group Jemaah Islamiyah in most of the attacks. The U.S. State Department designated Jemaah Islamiyah a foreign terrorist group in October 2002, and suspects it of having ties to Al Qaeda, a worldwide terrorist organization that frequently proclaims its hatred for Americans and their allies.
Although rumors of violent and extortionist crimes in Bali abound on the Internet, mainstream travel sites such as Frommer's continue to assert that Bali is relatively free of violence. Petty thefts and pickpocketings, however, can be problematic. As in any country they visit, Americans should stay aware of their surroundings, refrain from becoming intoxicated and avoid displaying large amounts of cash, expensive jewelry or anything else that might attract a criminal's notice.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration does not consider Indonesian air safety standards to be in compliance with those of the United States. The FAA advises American travelers to avoid using regional airlines and to restrict their air travel to international carriers whose practices and standards are in compliance with U.S. guidelines.
Americans in Bali face a number of health risks. Frommer's advises visitors to avoid drinking water in Bali unless it is bottled or has been properly boiled. The Indonesian Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of rabies in southern Bali in October 2009 that caused at least 12 deaths; it advised tourists to avoid contact with stray dogs and wild animals. As of the end of 2009 the World Health Organization had confirmed 161 cases of avian (H5N1) flu in Indonesia, including 134 deaths. However, cases of H1N1, or \"swine flu,\" were rare as of late 2009.
Bali is part of the \"ring of fire,\" a seismically volatile zone that encircles the north and south Pacific oceans. Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity are possible in the region. The island of Bali itself features at least two active volcanoes, including Mt. Agung, which erupted most recently in 1963. Although Bali largely avoided the effects of the earthquake and tsunami of December 2004, the Indonesian province of Aceh, to the north, suffered devastating damage and more than 129,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.