The answer to “How many countries in the world are there” is more complicated than you think. It depends on who you ask and how you count them.

The United Nations (U.N.) recognizes 193 sovereign nations as member-states, plus two non-member observer states, making it a total of 195. So it’s important to remember that 195 is not the full tally of nations since two special nations are sometimes recognized but not fully endorsed, by the U.N., namely Taiwan and Kosovo.

We’d say at least 195 countries worldwide, not counting anything else, like territories or The Vatican. This number is not as widely accepted as you think, and if you asked a Chinese or a Russian, they would disagree as they recognize others as countries. Many nations count The Vatican for a total of 196.

Most people include several unrecognized countries besides Taiwan and Kosovo when listing the countries that recognize their independence. So the number of recognized countries is around 150 to 200. The question of how many countries there are in the world is complex. But why is it so complicated? Because it is up to each nation to determine its sovereignty, and then peer nations need to recognize them as such. 

How Many Countries In The World Are There

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What Is A Country?

A country, by definition, is a nation with its own government occupying a particular territory. And the world has given the status of an independent state. We should discuss what is understood as a country before discussing how many countries are in the world. 

When it comes to countries, there is no consensus over what defines a country in a political sense. The modern legal definition from the United Nations is defined as a state wherein the country’s residents have legal rights.

A country can be defined in the following terms:

  • It is considered to be an independent sovereign state
  • A state which is occupied by another state in the form of a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division
  • A geographical region that is associated with a set of previously independent or non-independent people with political characteristics

A nation and a county are not the same things. A country is a group of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language that lives in a specific territory. A nation comprises many people, usually from one or more families, who live in one place and share a common culture and history.

A Nation Defined:

Nations are sovereign states, such as the United States of America. A group of people who share the same history, language, descent, or government can also be referred to as a community

Nation has varying meanings, and the term’s connotation has changed over time. Webster’s Dictionary defines a nation as,

  • A community of people composed of one or more nationalities with its own territory and government, and
  • A tribe or a federation of tribes

Countries consist of three components: people, territory, and government. Countries are legitimate according to the extent to which they have been recognized by other states, the international community, and their own citizens. If there is a consensus around whether a territory is a country, then it’s a country; otherwise, it isn’t. In other words, even if another state occupies a part, the international community can legitimately determine which state has sovereignty over it.

Comparison between Country and Nation:

Difference between Country and Nation _ Country vs Nation

Image Courtesy: stuffheaven.com, keysoglobal.com

How Many Countries In The World Are There?

Sovereignty is a controversial topic affecting many’s lives, and its importance goes beyond national pride. Many decisions are based on geographical boundaries, budgeting, and taxation to trade agreements or international aid.

National sovereignty is one of the most significant issues affecting the lives of people all over the world. The right to control your destiny should never be taken for granted, affecting everyone in myriad ways. 

The question of how many countries there are is particularly relevant for those seeking to beat world records by visiting “all the countries in the world,” as it determines the denominator in their quest.

There are 195 (or 196 if you count The Vatican) countries on earth, many of which the United Nations has admitted into its ranks. They come together in the U.N. to debate and vote on issues that affect humanity.

United Nations Member States

The United Nations has 193 member countries. This number is sometimes cited inaccurately as the actual number of countries worldwide. It is inaccurate because there are two other limited status members. The Vatican and Palestine are separate from U.N. However; both have observer status at the United Nations. The Security Council and the General Assembly have different roles at the U.N. and can participate in all official U.N. activities. Still, the Security Council can vote, whereas the General Assembly can only participate in discussions.

Some countries or regions are recognized by a majority of U.N. member states and are also part of the U.N., but they’re not recognized as independent countries. Kosovo is an example of a region of Serbia that declared independence in 2008.

Number of Countries In The World

Nations Recognized by the United States

The United States officially recognizes other nations through the State Department. The political agenda of the United States of America and its allies is reflected in the list of 195 independent countries recognized by the State Department as of March 2019.

Unlike the United States, the United Nations does not recognize Kosovo as a state. However, it does recognize two permanent non-member observer states, Palestine and Vatican City(Holy See). 

The Nation That Isn’t Recognized As A Country

The Republic of China, formally known as Taiwan, has met the requirements for an independent country or state status. Taiwan is an independent nation, but most nations refuse to recognize it. The Republic of China leaders fled to Taiwan after the Republic of China was ousted from mainland China in the late 1940s by the communist rebels. Relations between Taiwan and mainland China have been strained, even though the People’s Republic of China maintains authority over the island.

What Is The Difference Between The Republic of China (ROC) and The People’s Republic of China (PRC)?

Today, the ROC is the de facto government of Taiwan, whereas the PRC is the de facto government over Mainland China. However, each government claims to be the legitimate government of all of China de jure.
De jure: according to rightful entitlement or claim; by right.

Taiwan was a member of the United Nations until 1971, when mainland China replaced Taiwan. Taiwan continues to push for full acceptance of its place among the nations. Its economy is the world’s 29th largest. China is playing an increasingly significant role in shaping the global agenda. As a result, Taiwan cannot fly its flag at international events like the Olympics, so it is sometimes referred to as Chinese Taipei instead of Taiwan.

Taiwan Flag

Territories, Colonies, and Other Non-Nations

Countries not governed by their governments are often referred to as territories or colonies. They are never called a “country.” Places commonly mistaken for countries include Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Greenland, Palestine, and Western Sahara. The components of the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England) are not fully independent countries, but they are more than states within the U.S.; they have a greater degree of autonomy.

FAQs

What country is no longer a country?

The Republic of Grenada is now called the Republic of Colombia. The province of Newfoundland is now a Canadian province. South Yemen became Yemen in 1990 after being united with North Yemen. Part of Hungary, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, the Balkans, and North Africa was once included in the Ottoman Empire.

When were countries created?

There are some countries that were founded as a result of geographic isolation, such as England. Emigration created some other nations, such as Australia, often displacing existing ones. In other cases, such as Croatia, empires have broken apart or peace treaties have led to the creation of new nations.

How are countries named?

Some countries are named after people, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Others are named after a tribe name, such as Canada, Germany, and France. Still, others are named after geographical features, such as Australia, Brazil, and India. And some countries are named after their leaders, such as Russia and China.

One fascinating thing about the country names is that they almost always represent one of four categories. Most countries are named after a directional description, a land feature, a tribe name, or a significant male figure.

What is a Nation?

The term “nation” was coined by the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, who argued that a nation was a group of people sharing a common language, religion, and culture. Nations can be defined in terms of their territory and population. Still, they are also associated with a political community unified in its government and committed to a particular culture.

In modern times, the term nation is often used narrowly to denote a single sovereign state or to refer to a subset of conditions. In addition, the term refers to the inhabitants of a given territory, regardless of their nationality or citizenship. The English Commonwealth in 1649 is thought to be the earliest nation-state creation, even though France was the first nation-state after the French Revolution.

Closing Thoughts

A country is a region with its own government and citizens who typically have the right to vote for their government. The U.N. was formed to unite the countries fighting during World War II. It included all the nations that were part of the Allied Forces and the Axis Powers. The U.N. has 193 member states, with Israel being one of the ten non-member states.

There are many ways to determine how many countries are in the world.

One is to add up all the nations that belong to the United Nations. Another method is to include only the countries that are members of the U.N. These two methods come out with the same result, but the first method is more straightforward.

The U.S. State Department does not recognize some countries that are members of the U.N. Therefore, the USA’s approach does not include them. The U.S. State Department consists of countries that are part of the United Nations but have no diplomatic relations with the United States. Taiwan is also a member of the U.N. and is treated as a separate state.

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