How Many Countries Are There?
If you wanted to know. How many countries are in the world? It should be a pretty easy thing to find out. Go to a map. Count the countries and Have your answer, however, it isn't even remotely close to being that simple defining what a country is extremely difficult, and has been the point of contention in many wars and conflicts find out the problem of determining how many countries are in the world in this episode of everything everywhere daily. This episode everything everywhere daily is brought to you by G Adventures G adventures is the world's Premier Small Group tour operator offering tours in over one hundred countries and all seven continents in addition g adventures has been a leader in the area of responsible tourism, helping to establish social enterprises around the world. When you travel with G, you not only get to explore the world. World, you also get to help the people in the communities you visit I speak from firsthand experience. I've personally visited over forty countries on all seven continents with g adventures, and I can attest to their high standards and the quality of their tours to learn more about g adventures and defined a tour. That's right for you. Click on the link in the show notes. Before start, let me make the following disclaimer with the following places, I'm about to list. I am not claiming that any of them are independent or My goal is to simply explain their disputed status and the controversy, surrounding them I am not picking sides, so if you happen to live in one of these places or are in a neighboring country, please don't send me an e mails. Now that being said. If, we wanted a starting point for this discussion. The best place to start is in the United Nations. The UN is the club for countries, and if you want to find out how many countries that are worth, the easiest thing to do would be to ask the UN as of the time I am recording this. There are currently one hundred and ninety three countries in the united. Nations and we'll use this number as our starting point. If you're a country, you're in the United Nations then it's safe to say you are in fact a country. The problem is that the opposite is not true. If you're not in the United Nations. It doesn't mean that you're not a country. The best example of this was probably Switzerland which didn't become a member of the United Nations until two thousand and two, but it doesn't mean that they weren't a country before two thousand two. Once, you get beyond the one hundred and ninety three countries. Things start to get messy because you're dealing with overlapping claims of sovereignty. Countries are often recognized based on mutual recognition by other countries based on international recognition. There are currently three territories that are recognized by over one hundred different UN member states, but are not members of the United Nations themselves. They are city, Palestine and Kosovo. The reason why these three countries are not in United Nations has to do with the unique setup of the UN. And the United Nations Security Council. Any permanent member has the right to veto any UN resolution including getting new members in the case of Palestine membership would be vetoed by the United States in the case of Kosovo. It'd be vetoed by Russia. The Vatican has never really tried to join, but it almost certainly would be vetoed by China, which is one of the few countries in the world, with which it has no diplomatic relations, and it is one of the few countries which actually recognizes Taiwan. Both the Vatican and Palestine are observer members in the United Nations, which means they can attend the parties, but they can't actually vote. Side note I am not going to go into detail, explaining the difference between the Holy See which is officially what has diplomatic recognition and Vatican City? I'll save that for another episode as it is beyond the scope of this show. So if we take the country's plus these three that puts us at one, hundred, ninety six. However. We aren't even close to really answering the question yet. From here, things start to get really murky and confusing. There are several places which may be considered countries, insofar as they control their own borders, have their own governments military currency yet few or no other countries recognize them. I. We need to address the issue of Taiwan I'm like other places in this category. Taiwan doesn't claim to be an independent country. It claims to China like all of China Taiwan claims to Represent All China. The case of Taiwan a special, because they actually have a competing claim with the People's Republic of China as to actually who is China when the UN was formed in Nineteen forty-five, the Republic of China was one of the five permanent members of the Security Council. The Republic of China is what Taiwan calls itself, and it dates back to the Chinese civil war which they lost. The problem was of course they weren't really China representing the vast majority of the Chinese. People, the People's Republic of China head over a billion people and full control of the country on the ground. Taiwan was only an island with a few million people. They might have claimed to represent all of China, but they really didn't. In one, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, one, the. UN recognize the People's Republic of China as the Chinese representative and the Republic of China Aka Taiwan went from being a permanent member of the Security Council to being left out of the United Nations entirely. Nonetheless, even though Taiwan is an in the UN, nor does it have observer status, it has never declared itself to be independent, but it does have some international recognition by eighteen small countries, it also has de facto control of its borders, its own currency military in its own elected government, and it's also allowed to compete in the Olympics in international football competitions as Chinese Taipei. So if we recognize its de facto control of its own territory that puts set one hundred, ninety seven. But if we were to include Taiwan why wouldn't we include other countries which have de facto control over their territory as well there are several places which are countries, insofar as they control their own borders, have their own government military and currency yet. No other countries recognize them. These include south a steadier this breakway part of the Republic of Georgia which borders Russia. It's recognized by five UN member states one of which is Russia. Abkhazia another breakaway republic of Georgia which also borders Russia. It's recognized by five UN member states one of which is also Russia. Transnistria tiny sliver of land, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine on the eastern side of the stor river, not recognized by any U member states, and everyone recognizes it as being a part of Moldova. Arts ash also known as now girl Kara Bath. And Armenian populated region, which was part of Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union fell, not recognized by any member state including Armenia. Somaliland. This is the northern part of Somalia. They have total autonomy their own currency. They've even had elections with peaceful transition of government. Nonetheless, no, their country recognizes them. Western Sahara formerly the Spanish Sahara, the Spanish left in nineteen seventy-five without transitioning the region t independence Morocco controls most of the territory, although no country recognizes its sovereignty over it. North Cyprus the northern Turkish of the island, which broke away after an invasion of Cyprus in one, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, four. It is only recognized by Turkey. The stories behind every one of the places I just listed could be an episode unto itself, and maybe someday it will suffice it to say they're all defacto independent, but almost no other country recognizes them as such. If we included all these places, countries were now at two hundred and four. However, we are not done yet. New. Zealand has to territories which are all independent, the island of new way and the cook. Islands are both small territories that totally control their own fate. They are independent members of international organizations, such as UNESCO and the World Health Organization and they can sign their entreaties. They have diplomatic ties with about two dozen U N, member states and the EU, basically they can do whatever they want. Including entering treaties with foreign powers and new. Zealand has publicly stated that they would not stop them if they wish to declare independence and join the United Nations. But. They've stopped short of doing so because all of their citizens currently are also considered citizens of New Zealand that plus other at financial benefits would be lost if they were to fully declare their independence. With new in the cook, islands that puts us at two hundred six countries, which is certainly all of them, right? I know we're just getting warmed up now. We have to delve into autonomous territories. Thomas Territories are places that exist in a quantum state of being a country and not being a country. The best known example would probably be. Puerto Rico Puerto. Rico is a territory of the United States. It's part of the US, but it also isn't part of the US. The people who live there are US citizens, but Puerto. Rico doesn't have representation in the federal government, so it's not quite a part of the US. In the same way that Florida is the same is true for Guam. The US Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands. Also, which I might add have separate Olympic teams American. American Samoa is very similar with the only difference being that the people that are not US citizens, but are considered US nationals that means they can freely travel and work in the United States. But if they wished to vote while living in the US they would have to become naturalized citizens, Greenland and the Faroe. Islands are part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but are considered autonomous countries within the realm of Denmark by the same token Aruba Curacao and Saint Martin, our countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but the Caribbean islands of bonaire Sabe and saint stations are considered part of the country of. That flat place that's in Europe. Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions of China with their own currency passport and also Olympic teams. Britain has territories with varying degrees of independence. In phila- monster at the Turks and Caicos the Cayman Islands Bermuda Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island the British. Indian Ocean territory ascension island Tristan Kuna saying. And tiny pitcairn island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Some of those territories have their own Olympic teams and some don't. I haven't even mentioned the three Crown dependencies which are Jersey Guernsey the Isle of Man None of which are part of the United Kingdom nor a territory of the United Kingdom yet are tied to the UK via Direct Union with the Crown Aka the Queen and a top it all off the country of the United Kingdom itself is made up before different countries. England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland. All of whom get separate teams in the World Cup. It's countries in countries. The UK has achieved country inception. So as you can see the question of how many countries are there is a lot more complicated than just looking at who has a seat in the United Nations and there really is no right answer. The base number that most people use as one hundred and ninety three, but it's also pretty obvious. There are more than one hundred and ninety three. The question is how many things should be considered countries, and that will remain an open question subject to debate. This is a brand new podcast, and as such you can really use your support. If you know someone who is curious and you think would like the show. Please share with them, and if you've enjoyed the show, please subscribe on Apple, podcast or Google podcast really get contact for curious people every day and your podcast player and leave a five star review. 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