How many countries are there? Easy: just grab a map and start counting, yes? No.

Not all maps are created equal — borders will differ depending on who you got the map from.

So if individuals disagree, then surely a committee will save the day.

Go to the United Nations, find the room where countries sit — each with a little name tag — start counting and get an answer.

Now, of course, countries come and countries go, but at the time this video was made the answer is 193.

Fastest video ever, right?

Except: you know this isn’t over.

The United Nations list is less a complete class roster than a club membership that doesn’t include everyone.

Take, Vatican City who is a country but is too cool for school when it comes to being a member of the United Nations.

And while Vatican City’s exact situation is complicated he’s straightforward compared to other non-United Nations countries or
places — the terminology is going to have a be a bit, unclear here.

Take Kosovo, who wants to join the UN club, but membership requires none of these five countries to reject you.

And while the United States, The United Kingdom, and France think Kosovo is a country, Russia and China think she’s just a rebellious part of Serbia and so veto her membership.

As for everyone else, just over half recognize Kosovo as independent and Kosovo, adorably, has a website where she thanks each one in their own language.

How Many Countries Are There?

But Kosovo, is not there only other place that wants to be considered a real country.

There’s Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.

Which might, or might not, be part of Moldova, Azerbaijan, or Georgia depending on who you ask.

In two of these countries, no UN members recognize as countries, and the other two have only five supporters.

Though all four of these places recognize each other as countries.

There’s also The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Northern Cyprus each with their own supporters.

At this point, you might be thinking ‘OK, srsly, what’s the deal?

I don’t care who these guys think are countries, are these places countries or not?’

If I fly to one for a Holliday, will it look like a country when I get there?

The answer is, ‘maybe’.

These countries are all autonomous, to some extent, with governments that issue passports though these may be of rather limited use, and depending on which ones you’re visiting they may have more or less control of the territory they claim as theirs.

You won’t always find a clear border.

What makes many of these places fuzzy is they’re usually born of conflict in the recent-ish past.

That answer is probably less helpful than you want to think of it like this: while The United States is clearly a country now, in
1776, not so much.

Then she was just an idea in minds of rebel scum.

She wasn’t recognized as a country instantly and without diplomatic effort to change that Young America would never have made it on her own.

Much like what happened a century later when she got her own rebel who, unlike elder sister, failed in the diplomacy department so yeah.

And so it goes today with many of the maybe countries in the world.

Maybe they’re future of the United States and maybe they’re future Confederacies — but at the moment it’s hard to say — because these things can take decades to settle.

By the way, these maybe-countries are super awkward for countries to deal with.

While your tiny island nation might not want to get involved in the affairs of distant lands you still have to decide to send a diplomat, or not — meaning even inaction forces you to pick a side in every territorial skirmish in the world.

A notably awkward case being: Taiwan, sorry, Chinese Taipei which is totally part of China and no one would ever think otherwise…

Is China gone?

OK: by any reasonable definition, Taiwan is a separate country and has been for years, but China won’t let go and insists you call
her Chinese Taipei and don’t forget who makes all your clothing and utensils and TVs and phones and computers and everything.

So almost all countries — including the mighty United States — play along even though they unofficially acknowledge Taiwan’s independence and do things that wouldn’t make any sense otherwise — like sending aircraft carriers to protect one part of China from another part of China.

Thus the innocent question ‘how many countries?’ has led us straight to a big ‘World War III: Press Here to Start button which is getting depressing so let’s move on to right. sigh: No more politics: on to higher ideas: The Olympics.

Surely from their perch among the gods, they have a disinterested view of the countries below.

“How many are there, Olympics?”

Two hundred and four?

Huh.

So Olympics is a bit… special.

She defines Puerto Rico as a ‘country’ even though it’s unambiguously part of the United States as well as Bermuda and Aruba which are connected to the UK and The Netherlands along with a bunch of other places that are happy to play in her Olympic Games as Nations but make no claims to independence.

Presumably, Olympics includes these to bump up the number so she can say ‘more than 200 countries compete!’

Though even her inflated list doesn’t include Vatican City — because, given his demographics, divine intervention would be required to take home a gold.

And Vatican City brings us right back to the core of the difficulty with this question: a consistent definition of ‘country’ is impossible
because your checklist needs to both include Vatican City the least country-like country that’s still a country — and that also excludes the Anti-Vatican City: Hong Kong: — the most country-like country that isn’t.

Also, don’t forget from previous episodes the seemingly endless territories which look and act like independent countries, but just sort of aren’t.

And this isn’t even bringing up the various Nutters who plant a flag on an Island, or an oil rig, start printing currency on their
fancy inkjet and declare Deludtopia a new nation.

So with no checklist to follow where does that leave us?

The best answer to the question ‘how many countries for the foreseeable future is probably to say ‘around 200’ and leave it at that.

An answer with more significant figures implies more agreement than there really is — because ultimately, what makes a country a country is if other countries think that country is a country.

If you want to learn more history story, please click here :

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