For more information see the main history of Bali page.
Denpasar is the only municipality in Bali. Its history really goes back to the days of the rajas, that is before 1906. Denpasar back then was called Badung (which is now the name of the district that stretches from the Bukit peninsula up to Bedugal).
Largely controlled by the royal families of Pemecutan in the SW and Kesiman in the East or what is now Denpasar, Badung was a market area, which in the 1920’s and 1930’s became home to the early tourist trade. Miguel Covarrubias reports that “Den Pasar is a glorified Buleleng. In this great “alun-alun,” the playground of Denpasar, stolid Hollanders play tennis and drink beer near young Balinese playing soccer in striped sweat shirts, shorts and spiked shoes. All around the square are the homes of the leading white residents, neat and bourgeois, small bungalows with enormous pink embroidered lampshades on every porch and well-kept front gardens of imported roses. The business street leading to the market consists, as in Buleleng, of the same squalid shops, provision stores, gasoline pumps, a small Chinese hotel, and curio stalls with mass-production “Balinese art,” all kept by the same Chinese compradors, the same bearded Bombay merchants with eagle-like beaks, dressed like burlesque comdedians in incongruous tall fezzes, embroidered slippers, pink sarongs, and European vests worn over shirts with tails out, bargaining excitedly with husky bare-breasted Balinese women.”
Denpasar means ‘next to the market’ and became Bali’s administerative capital in 1949, finally becoming a self governing municipality in 1992.