How Many Countries Are There in the World? A Complex Issue Explained

TLDR Determining the number of countries in the world is not as simple as it seems, with factors such as UN membership, recognition by other countries, and autonomous territories all playing a role. While the UN recognizes 193 countries, there are additional territories and regions that have varying degrees of independence, potentially bringing the count to 206 or more.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Determining how many countries there are in the world is a complex issue due to the difficulty in defining what constitutes a country.
02:12 The United Nations currently recognizes 193 countries, but being a member of the UN is not the only criteria for being considered a country.
04:10 There are three territories, Vatican City, Palestine, and Kosovo, that are recognized by over 100 UN member states but are not members of the UN themselves due to the veto power of permanent members in the Security Council; in addition, Taiwan is a unique case as it claims to be China.
05:56 Taiwan, although not a member of the UN, has its own government, military, and currency, and is recognized by 18 small countries, while other regions like South Ossetia, which have de facto control over their territory, are not widely recognized as independent countries.
07:47 Abkhazia, Transnistria, Artsash, Somaliland, Western Sahara, and North Cyprus are all de facto independent regions that are not widely recognized as independent countries, bringing the potential count of countries to 204, and New Zealand's territories of Nui and the Cook Islands have a high level of independence and can enter treaties with foreign powers.
09:43 New Zealand's territories of Nui and the Cook Islands could potentially bring the count of countries to 206, and there are also autonomous territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas Islands, American Samoa, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius, Hong Kong, and Macau that exist in a quantum state of being a country and not being a country.
11:31 The United Kingdom has territories with varying degrees of independence, including three crown dependencies, and is made up of four different countries, making the question of how many countries there are more complicated than just looking at who has a seat in the United Nations.
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