How many countries are there in the world?
I bet you could “Google” it and come up with at least five different answers from a variety of sources. And then you have to contend with sovereign states… and did you mean “countries”, or any states that has a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states?
The world is a confusing place. Even though it is a member of one UN specialised agency, Palestine is considered a “UN observer state” rather than a “UN member state” and is still disputed by Israel. Vatican City is a member of three UN specialised agencies but it is also not a UN member state. Kosovo is claimed by Serbia, while Taiwan is claimed by China. Denmark continues to exercise control of Greenland’s foreign affairs, security and financial policy. In 2011, South Sudan declared itself the independent country of South Sudan. While England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all are widely considered individual countries, they are all still a part of the United Kingdom (UK), a recognized European country by the United Nations, United States, and others.
In 2014, there are 195 widely recognized sovereign states, including 193 UN Members and 2 UN Observer States. A list of 201 states is made up of all states with at least partial recognition including Taiwan, Western Sahara, Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Northern Cyprus.
There are 204 officially recognised Olympic Nations and why is FIFIA the only entity that allows the “constituent countries” of the U.K. (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) to compete as separate teams, taking their official list of Countries Eligible for the World Cup to 209?
So, which list do I use for my “30 countries by the age of 30” campaign?
I feel (Catholic) guilt if I include Vatican City in my list, but before I read the UN Member list I would have considered Scotland. And isn’t New Zealand just another state of Australia? (wink wink)
And then I need to think about when a country (sovereign state) can be added to the list of countries I have visited. I would not include stop-over’s in Singapore, Dubai or Abu Dhabi as I didn’t even leave the airport. But when we stopped over in Brunei we did a tour of the city and ate “chicken butt” at its night markets… surely that would count?
How many more countries do I need to visit before I can complete 30 by 30? *
As it stands, this is my list:
- England (UK)
- The Netherlands
- Vatican City **
- United States
- New Zealand
- Scotland (UK) **
* This not a rhetorical question…. I am genuinely interested in your opinion!
** I am not sure if I am going to include Scotland and Vatican City in my final list.