How many countries are there in the world? This is a common question asked by many people who expect a straightforward and simple answer. However, the answer to this simple question varies from one source to another. The majority say that there are 193 countries but some believe that there are at least 205 countries. So why is it that there is no definite number?

The reason is the lack of a universally accepted definition of a “country.” Politically, some countries also either recognize or fail to recognize some existing countries. In political geography, a country can be defined as a region with a distinct national entity. Other sources define a country as a territory with borders that separates it from other regions or countries and also has its own government. Countries have also simply been defined as the subdivision of continents. Thus, continents are fragmented into several countries by imaginary lines known as borderlines or boundaries. A country can either be an independent sovereign state or a non-sovereign state.


Further Definition

When one is trying to know how countries are defined, they will likely come across three terms; the Montevideo Convention, the Constitutive theory, and the Declarative theory. The Montevideo Convention defined a state as a person of international law who possesses a permanent population with a defined territory and government and has the capacity to work with other states. The Declarative theory is based on the Montevideo Convention. According to the Constitutive theory, a country is defined as a person of international law if only it is considered a sovereign state by other countries. This means that as long as another country recognizes a region as a country then it is a country even if it does not have control over the territory or region. The Constitutive theory of statehood allows for places such as Taiwan to exist as a country.

How Are Countries Formed?

Throughout human history, people have lived in continents together. Originally they lived as families, clans, and tribes. But as the population increased, the clans and tribes formed subunits called villages. Some of the villages developed into towns where different villages consisting of different tribes met, especially for trade and other interacting activities. The people living in different towns and cities but near each other would later agree to work together and live under similar rules, leading to the formation of countries. An invisible borderline or boundary was then put in place to separate one country from another.

So, How Many Countries Are There In The World?

There are 195 countries in the world, of which 193 countries are members of the United Nations while the other two, Holy See and Palestine, are non-member observer states. Taiwan and Kosovo are not included in the list of countries although they operate as independent countries. There are also several dependencies and territories mainly governed by the independent sovereign states.

What is a Country?