From a technical standpoint, this can be a little confusing. Notwithstanding the hearty global trotter whose ambition it is to visit every country in the world.
While recently compiling information for a website that tracked outbreaks of the Covid-19 virus I soon became aware that there were some serious discrepancies in who or who did not recognize particular countries.
A good place to start I thought would be the United Nations. After all, they are the world body of countries that are all members of the same club. All member states are sovereign states. So it would make sense that they would have every country in the world as members! Wrong think again, in fact, they only have 193 countries that they recognize as countries or sovereign states. Worldometer states there are 195 countries in the world. They do give in-depth reasoning behind what they do and do not class as a country. For our project on tracking the coronavirus, we needed to be a little more precise with the facts. After all, people want factual facts do they not?
World Population Review documents that there are 197 countries in the world and again goes into great depth about how each country is recognized and documented as a country.
If you follow football or soccer as it is referred to in the USA, you will be aware that FIFA has a member list of 211 teams representing 211 countries. So the figures just keep getting larger and larger with no real answer.
OK so FIFA is not one of the best names to quote as they do have a few issues with their list of countries. For example, they list, Wales, Scotland and Northan Ireland as 4 separate countries which they are not. Well, not at the moment anyway.
So what constitutes a country? Maybe that is the best place to start to look for an answer. World Atlas defines it as follows: By definition, a country refers to a territory with its own borders as well as total sovereignty over its territory and people. Now we have a definitive answer at last or do we?
Actually no we do not have a definitive answer as it is not just that simple. For a country to be a country it must be recognized as a country by other countries! Confused? You will just keep reading. Let us go back to the UN (United Nations)
If as a country you are recognized by the UN then you are in all tens and purposes a country. Not quite as simple as it sounds though. For example, 109 countries recognize Kosovo, but due to political reasons, Kosovo is not recognized by the UN as a country. How can this be I hear you cry?
Since Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia in 2008 there have been a few political hiccups along the way. For instance, the UK, Germany, most EU countries, New Zealand, Norway, and Australia to name a few all recognize it as a country. The problem is that countries such as Kazakstan, Mali, Russia, Syria, Sudan, and many others do not recognize it as a country, and so for political reasons, Kosova is left floating in the abyss of no man's land.
Maybe you are not a drinker or maybe you like an occasional drink of wine. Whatever your favorite beverage is it is a good idea to stock up on the family favorites. That being said soda and sugary drinks might not be the best for you if you are going to be self-isolating and a bit more sedate than normal. Many people like a drink and that is fine but as with everything all things in moderation.
There are other such examples, Taiwan is a very good example. 22 countries accept that it is a county in its own right but because china claims it then due to political reasons it is left as a part of China and can not sit at the table with other countries as a true country of its own choosing.
So there we have it there are 197 different countries, case closed! Not so fast Spartacus, we have a small issue regarding a few more places that would like to be recognized as countries. Which in all reality they are all but, the middle east has always had its problems and most governments wish to stay out of the issues there. While places such as Kurdistan, which is in the northern region of Iraq is not Iraq. The people who live there are completely culturally different. Also, their immigration (What happens when you enter the country) is different from Iraq.
There is a deluge of disputed territories around the world. We have recently seen the problems in Spain regarding Catalonia. Try as I might I could not justify recognizing Catalonia as its own country, it is more of a political struggle and one very much for the Spanish people to find a solution to.
Having said that I do find it necessary to add the following territories for the reasons explained. In no way am I condoning that these countries or territories have a right or no right to have their independence I am just stating that for my use I did recognize them. So please don't bury me with emails telling me about why they should or should not be independent territories.
So a few areas or places that we may think are countries which are not, are:
Hong-Kong which is part of china. Some think it should be its own country but until they gain their independence which is very unlikely under the current situation.
Aruba, is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea. Aruba is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten; the citizens of these countries are all Dutch nationals
Curaao, is basicaly as above Constituent country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. So it has its freedom but not its own right to be a country on its own standing.
French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France, comprises more than 100 islands in the South Pacific, stretching for more than 2,000km. Divided into the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu archipelagos, they're known for their coral-fringed lagoons
Gibraltar, is a British Overseas Territory and headland, on Spain's south coast. It’s dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge. First settled by the Moors in the Middle Ages and later ruled by Spain, the outpost was ceded to the British in 1713.
Greenland, is the world's largest island, located between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
Jersey, is the largest of the Channel Islands, between England and France. A self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom, with a mix of British and French cultures
New Caledonia, is a French territory comprising dozens of islands in the South Pacific.
Northern Cyprus, officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is a de facto sovereign state that comprises the northeastern portion of the island of Cyprus. Recognised only by Turkey, Northern Cyprus is considered by the international community to be part of the Republic of Cyprus.
Isle of Man, is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland.
As you can see there are a lot of territories that we naturally think are countries that are not. For our site though we have added a lot as people seem to consider them so and we do not want to disappoint our visitors looking for information during the Covid-19 epidemic.
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