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How Many Countries Are There in the World in 2019?

How Many Countries Are There in the World in 2019?

One of the most basic questions for map-lovers is, "How many countries are there in the world?" But anyone who just gives you a number isn't telling the whole truth. It actually depends a lot on how you define a "country."

Here are six of the most common answers, each correct in its own way:

195 Sovereign States According to the U.N.
"Country" and "nation" are casual words for what political scientists call a "sovereign state," meaning a place with its own borders and completely independent government. The question of which places count as sovereign states can be controversial, but for starters we normally count all the member and observer countries of the United Nations (U.N.):

U.N. members: 193
U.N. observer states: 2
Total: 195

These countries mostly all accept each other as sovereign states, and they're the ones you'll see on most world maps and lists of the world's countries. Almost every country you've ever heard of is probably a member of the U.N., and the two U.N. observer states are Vatican City (represented by the Holy See) and Palestine.

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)

201 States With at Least Partial Recognition
Several more country candidates are left out of the U.N. itself, but are still officially acknowledged by at least one U.N. member (this kind of official acceptance is called "diplomatic recognition"). These controversial countries are usually labeled on world maps as disputed territories or special cases, if they're on the map at all.

U.N. members: 193
U.N. observer states: 2
States with partial recognition: 6
Total: 201

The six non-U.N. states with partial recognition are Taiwan, Western Sahara, Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Northern Cyprus.

204-207 De Facto Sovereign States

These are called "de facto" sovereign states, a fancy Latin way of saying they're independent countries in actual fact, even if not on paper.

U.N. members: 193
U.N. observer states: 2
States with partial recognition: 6
Unrecognized de facto sovereign states: 3 to 6 
Total: 204 to 207

The three places most often considered de facto independent countries despite having no recognition from U.N. members are Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Transnistria and Somaliland.

206 Olympic Nations

Lots of people learn about the world's list of countries by watching the Olympic Games every two years. If you're one of them, you might be confused at why the Olympic Parade of Nations claims over 200 members, even though your atlas only has 195 countries.

That's because the Olympics didn't always require applicants to be independent countries. Dependent territories with partial self-government have sometimes been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and a couple of the partially-recognized states mentioned above have also managed it.

Olympic nations that are U.N. member states: 193
Olympic nations that are U.N. observer states: 1
Olympic nations that are partially-recognized states: 2
Olympic nations that are dependent territories: 10
Total IOC-recognized Olympic nations: 206

Like the Olympics, FIFA didn't always require independence or international recognition for its members.

211 FIFA Countries Eligible for the World Cup

Soccer — or "football" as it's known in many countries — is the world's most popular sport, and most international matches all the way up to the World Cup are regulated by an organization called FIFA. If you're a soccer super-fan, you might know that there are 211 member countries that compete in FIFA matches (even though most don't make it to the World Cup). That's already more than the number of Olympic nations, and definitely more than the total independent countries on most world maps.

Based on European tradition, FIFA also allows EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland to compete as separate teams, even though they've all been part of the U.K. for over 200 years.

Teams of U.N. member states: 186
Teams of U.N. observer states: 1
Teams of partially-recognized states: 2
Teams of U.K. constituent countries: 4
Teams of dependent territories: 18
Total FIFA member associations: 211

Source: Stratfor Worldview | Political Geography Now



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