How Many Countries Exist on Earth?

world-map-graphicstock
How many countries and who decides? (Image: Graphicstock)

191, 193, 195, 198…?

Apparently, this is not a problem of math, but one of international politics.

The U.S. Department of State recognizes 194 countries without counting Taiwan. Of course in some aspects, Greenland still belongs to Denmark. But what about Taiwan? Clearly, Taiwan is independent, but the U.S. chooses not to recognize it as independent from China.

The newest country is South Sudan, which became independent on July 9, 2011. And Kosovo? Kosovo declared its independence unilaterally on Feb. 17, 2008.

The web page of the United Nations says that they have had 193 officials members since 2006, when they added Montenegro, but that’s without counting Taiwan or Greenland.

The Vatican and Palestine have been recognized as sovereign states, but without a vote at the U.N.

If we count the U.N. membership of 193, then add Taiwan, the Vatican, and Palestine, we have 196. But some consider West Sahara and Greenland as independent countries. So add those and it would be 198. Yes? No?

So how many countries are there really? Who do you think should decide?

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