In the vein of “is Europe/Africa a country”, it’s hilarious that an article like this needs to exist as more people than you’d expect ask this... lol.

Ah, the age-old question that haunts every dinner party I’ve ever been to since moving to Bali: “So, is Bali a country?” And every time, I take a deep breath, channel my inner geography teacher (complete with tweed jacket and elbow patches), and embark on a whimsical yet educational journey.

First, let’s set the scene. Imagine, if you will, a world where Bali is indeed a country. The national flag would probably feature a surfboard and a Bintang beer bottle. The national anthem? A soothing mix of waves crashing and gamelan music, with a subtle undertone of scooter horns beeping in the distance.

But alas, back in the realm of reality, Bali is not a country. I know, shocking! It’s actually a part of Indonesia, which is, in fact, the country. Indonesia, that massive archipelago straddling the equator, home to more than 17,000 islands, where Bali just happens to be one of the more famous ones. It’s like calling Hawaii a country because it’s a popular vacation spot. Spoiler alert: Hawaii is not a country either.

So why the confusion? Well, Bali does have a bit of a personality complex. It’s like that one friend we all have who’s so charismatic they seem like they’re from their own little world. Bali’s unique culture, breathtaking landscapes, and “Eat, Pray, Love” fame have given it an international spotlight, making it stand out in the crowded room of Indonesian islands like the guy wearing board shorts to a black-tie event.

Is Bali a Country? Looking out the airplain window | BaliKit

In fact, Bali is unequivocally the most unique city/region/island in all of Indonesia, by a wide margin. Because of all the reasons just mentioned but perhaps technically due to 1 major reason; the island is almost entirely Balinese Hinduism whereas the rest of the massive country is overwhelmingly Islam. Beyond the religious differences, this fact makes the way of life and way of being vastly different in just about every aspect of existence in Bali.

But don’t feel bad if you thought Bali was a country. It’s a common mistake, like thinking a Frappuccino is a traditional Italian drink. (Spoiler: it’s not). Bali has its own language, Balinese, which sounds as enchanting as it is impossible to understand for us mere mortals. It has a distinct culture, cuisine that’s a spicy rollercoaster of flavors, and a traffic system that defies the laws of physics and common sense. But despite all this, Bali is still very much a part of Indonesia.

To sum up, Bali is not a country, but it sure feels like its own little universe. A universe where the beaches are sunny, the smoothie bowls are Instagram-worthy, and where time operates on its own whimsical schedule known as ‘rubber time.’ So next time someone asks if Bali is a country, just smile, take a sip of your coconut water, and embark on your own sarcastic yet fun geography lesson.


The Bali Guide