So how many countries in the world do think there are? What's your best guess?
The number of countries seems like it would be a firm number, but it isn't. It depends on who's doing the counting. The UN puts the count at 241 countries and territories, while the US officially recognizes fewer than 200.
The UN has officially 193 members. But that isn't the same thing as the number of countries in the world. There are two other countries, The Vatican (officially the Holy See) which is an independent country and the Palestinian Authority which is a quasi-governmental body but has "been granted permanent observer status at the United Nations. These two entities can take part in all official UN activities but cannot cast votes in the General Assembly."
Likewise, some nations or regions of the world have declared their independence and are recognized by a majority of UN member states yet are not part of the United Nations. Kosovo, a region of Serbia that declared independence in 2008, is one such example.
The State Department of the United States, as of May 2018, recognizes 195 countries. But their list reflects the political agenda of themselves and their allies. Unlike the United Nations, the United States maintains full diplomatic relations with Kosovo and the Vatican. However, one nation is missing from the State Department's list that should be on it. And that is the island of Taiwan.
Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China, formally meets the requirements to be an independent country. All but a handful of nations refuse to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. The reason is political and dates back to the 1940s when the Republic of China was ousted from mainland China by Mao Tse Tung's communist rebels and ROC leaders fled to Taiwan. The island was a member of the United Nations until 1971 when mainland China replaced it in the organization.
Confused yet? Me, too. But it gets even more confusing. There are dozens of territories and colonies that are often erroneously referred to as countries but are, in reality, governed by other places. Puerto Rico is one such example. Bermuda is another. The components of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) are not fully independent countries, either. They do, however, enjoy a certain degree of autonomy. When these dependent territories are figured into the mix, the number of countries jumps up to 241, the number the UN recognizes.
So how many countries are there? The correct answer is 196; the 195 officially recognized by the US (and others) plus the island nation of Taiwan.
I had a fabulous weekend and I hope that you did, too. it is nice, however, to be back at the keyboard bringing you a week of new and, hopefully, interesting blogs. Please stop by tomorrow for a celebration of National Orchid Day. Until then,