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  Early Dutch Incursion

In 1602 the Dutch trading company Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie (VOC) was formed by a group of merchants. Maintaining its own private army, the VOC's goal was the unlimited exploitation of the East Indies. At first Bali offered little of commercial value, and for more than 250 years after its discovery the island was more or less left alone while the company concentrated its efforts on capturing control of the cash crops and spice trade of Java and the Moluccas.

Bali did not grow cloves or nutmeg-spices needed by the Europeans to make their meats more palatable-so there was little on the island to exploit. Bali's imports were gold, rubies, and opium. Its exports mercenaries who fought in various wars in Java, and thousands of highly prized male and female slaves sold to Batavia, the Dutch capital in West Java.

The massive eruption of Gunung Tambora on Sumbawa in 1830 brought so much devastation to Bali it forced curtailment of the slave trade. The rajas of south Bali, finding their wealth and power drying up, turned to rice, coconut oil, cattle, pigs, dried meat, hides, tobacco, and coffee. This new mercantile orientation attracted traders, including the English.

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