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Countries, States, and Cities

How many countries exist on earth?


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August 26, 2008 4:18PM

That is a question that's somewhat difficult to answer, as there is no one right answer. Many sources offer different answers, and depending on the source, there are 189, 191, 192, 193, 194 or 195 independent countries in the world today.

As of May 1, 2008, the United Nations has 192 members (including Montenegro and Serbia - the two newest nations). That number does not include the Vatican, and it doesn't (yet) include Kosovo (disclaimer).

Regarding England, Scotland and Wales, though all are widely considered individual countries, they are all still a part of the United Kingdom (UK), a European country, and therefore included within the United Kingdom on our country list below.

The US State Department recognizes 194 independent countries around the world, but that list of countries reflects the political agenda of the United States of America. As an example, it includes Kosovo, but does not include Taiwan, as China claims that Taiwan (the ROC) is simply a province of China.

Most of the current World Almanacs use 193 countries, which is probably the best answer, but what about Kosovo? (disclaimer) Palestine? Greenland? Western Sahara? The political world is constantly changing and our list of independent nations is shown below. Note that we don't say that our list is the ONLY answer, just that it's our answer.