The Number of Countries in the World

By Most Accounts, There Are 196 Countries in the World

Country Flags
Numerous national flags are seen in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Alexander Jones via Flickr

A very frequent geographical question is "How many countries are in the world?" Different numbers pop up when one inquires or reads about the number of countries in the world. Unfortunately many counts exceed 200 as they count territories which are not independent countries.  Nonetheless, each source you use often yields a different answer. Ultimately, the best answer is that there are 196 countries in the world.

United Nations

There are 193 members of the United Nations. Unfortunately, the number 193 is too often used to represent the number of countries in the world. Although this number represents almost all of the countries in the world, there are still independent countries such as the Vatican City and Kosovo, that are independent and are not members of the U.N. so 193 is not the number of countries in the world.

U.S. Department of State and Taiwan

The United States' State Department recognizes 195 independent countries around the world. Their list of 195 countries reflects the political agenda of the United States of America and its allies. Missing from the State Department's list is one entity that may or may not be considered a country, depending on who you talk to.

Taiwan meets the requirements of independent country or state status. However, due to political reasons, it fails to be recognized by the international community as independent.

Nonetheless, it should be considered as independent.

Taiwan was actually a member of the United Nations (and even the Security Council) until 1971 when mainland China replaced Taiwan in the organization. Taiwan continues to press for full recognition by other countries, to become "part of the club" and fully recognized worldwide but China claims that Taiwan is simply a province of China.

So How Many Countries Are There?

Your Guide considers there to be 196 countries in the world, which is probably the best current answer to the question, "How many countries are in the world?"

But the Number of Countries is Complicated...

Recognize that there are dozens of territories and colonies that are sometimes erroneously called "countries" but don't count at all - they're governed by other countries. Places commonly confused as being countries include Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Greenland, Palestine, Western Sahara, and even the components of the United Kingdom (such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England - they're not fully independent countries, states, or nation-states). When dependent territories are included, the United Nations recognizes a total of 241 countries and territories. These are listed below by continent. Information is from the United Nations website:

African C​ountries and Territories:

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Réunion, Saint Helena, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Asian Countries and Territories:

Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, Cyprus, Dem. People's Republic of Korea, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, State of Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen

European Countries and Territories:

Albania, Åland Islands, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Channel Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Sark, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain,

North American Countries and Territories (including the Caribbean nations)

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French part), Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint-Barthélemy, Sint Maarten (Dutch part), Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States of America, United States Virgin Islands

South American Countries and Territories:

Argentina, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Oceania Countrie​s and Territories:

American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna Islands

Article revised by Allen Grove September, 2016