The Complexity of Determining the Number of Countries in the World

TLDR Determining the number of countries in the world is not as simple as counting them on a map. Factors such as UN membership, observer status, de facto control, and varying degrees of independence make the question of how many countries there are a complex one.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Determining how many countries there are in the world is not as simple as counting them on a map, as defining what a country is has been a point of contention in many wars and conflicts.
02:08 The United Nations currently has 193 member countries, but there are additional territories, such as Vatican City, Palestine, and Kosovo, that are recognized by over 100 UN member states but are not members themselves due to the veto power of permanent members in the UN Security Council.
03:50 The United States would veto Palestine's membership, Russia would veto Kosovo's membership, and China would likely veto the Vatican's membership, resulting in observer status for both the Vatican and Palestine at the United Nations.
05:32 Taiwan, despite not being a member of the UN, has de facto control over its territory and has some international recognition, raising the question of why other countries with similar control over their territory are not recognized as independent countries.
07:20 New Zealand's territories of Nui and the Cook Islands have almost complete independence and control over their own fate, including the ability to sign treaties and have diplomatic ties with other countries, but they have not declared independence or joined the UN because their citizens are also citizens of New Zealand.
09:04 Autonomous territories, such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and Greenland, exist in a quantum state of being a country and not being a country, and they have varying degrees of independence within larger nations like the United States and Denmark.
10:50 The question of how many countries there are is more complicated than just looking at who has a seat in the United Nations, and there is no right answer.
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