So, what makes a country?
According to the UN, there are 193 of them that are members. I think pretty much everyone agrees that Vatican City is also a country even though it chooses to not belong to the UN, so that makes 194. I’m also counting Palestine (recognized by 130 UN members) and Kosovo (recognized by 92 UN members) now. Also, I decided to add Taiwan this year, which is recognized by 21 UN members. So, total of 197.
The Travelers Century Club, a club for extreme travel nerds, takes things a step farther, and lists places that are geographically distinct, separated from their parent country, etc, giving them a list of 321. I have some real problems with this list, mainly because it includes Hawaii, Alaska, Siberia, etc as countries.
I decided to settle on my own list which is the UN list of 193 (197 with my additions) plus another 24 that I consider quasi-independent places based on a combination of criteria:
- They have independent border control regimes – you must face a passport check coming from the UN parent
- The place is disputed by the government in de facto control, and the UN parent claiming it
- It uses a different currency than its UN parent
- It is so far removed/distinct from its parent that you just have to call it an “independent place” (yes, this is subjective…) – I’ll probably add to this going forward…Greenland is the obvious first one in this group, but places like St. Helena and the Falklands come to mind…feel free to start a debate.
If it meets one of these criteria, it goes on my independent place list.
197 of 197 Countries Visited **COMPLETE**
212 of 222 Independent Places Visited
251 of 325 Travelers Century Club Places Visited
The List of 196 Countries (Plus 25 Independent Places in Parenthesis):
Complete: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sāo Tomé e Principé, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Not Complete: (Somalia – Non-Somaliland), (Western Sahara)
Complete: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, (Hong Kong), India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, (Macau), Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Australia and Pacific:
Complete: Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, (New Caledonia), New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
Not Complete: (Cook Islands), (Niue), (Tokelau)
Central America and Caribbean:
Complete: (Anguilla), Antigua and Barbuda, (Aruba), Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, (Bonaire), (Cayman Islands), Costa Rica, Cuba, (Curacao), Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago
Europe and Central Asia:
Complete: (Abkhazia), Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, FYR of Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, (Gibraltar), Greece, (Greenland), (Guernsey), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, (Isle of Man), Italy, (Jersey), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monoco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, (Transdniester), Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Vatican City
Not Complete: (Nagorno-Karabakh), (South Ossetia)
Middle East and North Africa:
Complete: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirate, Yemen
Compete: Canada, Mexico, United States
Not Complete: (Bermuda)
Complete: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela
Not Complete: (Falkland Islands)