Country

distinct territorial body or political entity

A country is a distinct territory with defined borders, boundaries, people and government. Most countries are sovereign states while others make up one part of a larger state.[1] The people that live in a country are referred to as a nation. The government that runs the country is called the state. Turkey is a country that borders two continents, Europe and Asia.

World map with the current political division of countries.

Number of countries

There is no universally accepted answer as to how many countries in the world there actually are, however the minimum answer is 193 for the 193 United Nations members.[2]

This can be developed on even further by adding the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, The Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Denmark which could add anywhere from three to eleven more countries.

There are multiple organisations that have their own lists of countries, one example being the Travellers Century Club which recognises 330 countries as of January 2022.[3]

Disputed countries

Taiwan is classified as a country. However, there is an ongoing dispute over Taiwan's independence with the People's Republic of China.

There are a number of disputed areas that have declared independence from their parent state and receive limited recognition. For example, Kosovo, Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Northern Cyprus, Artsakh and Somaliland. These are just some of the many examples of territories with limited to no recognition that are sometimes classed as countries.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the above examples and quite often any of these territories may be counted as countries purely based on opinion. If all of the above were added the list of U.N members there could be anything up to 211 countries.

There are, however, many more territories with unique political circumstances that could also be counted.

Depending on how loosely the dictionary definition for the word country is used there could be many more than 193 countries in the world. The matter is purely subjective depending on varying opinions.

Constituent country

Constituent country is a term sometimes used, usually by official institutions, in contexts in which a number of countries are part of a sovereign state. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has used the term referring to the former Yugoslavia,[4] and the European institutions like the Council of Europe often use it in reference to the European Union.[5]

Territorial dispute

A disputed territory is that territory whose sovereignty is jealously desired by two or more countries. Usually the administration of the territory is carried out by one of the countries that claims sovereignty, while the other country does not recognize the sovereignty over the territory of the other country. This does not usually happen in land or sea areas on which none possesses effective control, such as Antarctica, or only partially.

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