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Distinct territorial body or political entity

A country is a territory with distinct political boundaries and borders that claims sovereignty over a specific geographic area with a permanent population, controlled by its own government that enters relations with other states, or a piece of land that's under the control of its own government.[1]

World map with the current political division 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]

Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and the largest is Russia.

Taiwan is also sometimes classified as a country. However, there is an ongoing disputes over Taiwan's sovereignty with the People's Republic of China.

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 countries to the prior number.

There are a number of disputed areas that have declared independence from their parent state and receive limited recognition. For example, Kosovo, Artsakh, Transnistria and Abkhazia. 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 one 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 based on the previous examples given.

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 anything from 193 countries in the world or more. The matter is purely subjective depending on varying opinions and there has never been any consideration as to what the maximum number of countries in the world could be.

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]

Constituent country

Constituent country is a term sometimes used, usually by official institutions, in contexts in which a number of countries compose a long entity or grouping. 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. It can also be considered as a disputed territory to those areas that are given by two different governments, and therefore are divided.


  1. "Definition of COUNTRY".
  2. "Member States - United Nations".
  3. "Alphabetical List - The Travelers' Century Club".
  4. "Yugoslavia". OCDE. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
  5. "European Union". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on February 6, 2009. Retrieved January 15, 2009.

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