Official Listing of Countries by World Region

Matt Rosenberg's Official Eight Regional Groupings of the World

World In Geographic Projection, True Colour Satellite Image

Planet Observer/Getty Images

The 196 countries of the world divide into eight regions based on their geography, mostly aligning with their continent. Groupings that don't strictly adhere to the continent divisions separate the Middle East and North Africa from sub-Saharan Africa around cultural lines, and grouping the Caribbean and Central America separately from North and South America makes sense due to similarities based on latitudes.

 

Asia

Asia stretches from former "stans" of the USSR to the Pacific Ocean. There are 27 countries in Asia, the world's largest and most populous continent. About 60 percent of the world's population lives there, with India and China the world's Top 2 most populous and the continent containing five of the 10 most populous. 

Bangladesh
Bhutan
Brunei
Cambodia
China
India
Indonesia
Japan
Kazakhstan
North Korea
South Korea
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Malaysia
Maldives
Mongolia
Myanmar
Nepal
Philippines
Singapore
Sri Lanka
Taiwan
Tajikistan
Thailand
Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan
Vietnam

Middle East, North Africa, and Greater Arabia

The 23 countries of the Middle East, North Africa, and Greater Arabia include some countries not traditionally part of the Middle East, but their cultures cause their placement in this region (such as Pakistan). Turkey is also sometimes placed in lists of Asian and Europan countries, as it geographically straddles them both.

In the last 50 years of the 20th century, the region grew faster than any other in the world, due to a decline in mortality rates and a high rate of fertility. Because of this, demographics in the region skew young, while in many more developed countries, such as in Asia, Europe, and North America, population bubbles skew older.

Afghanistan
Algeria
Azerbaijan*
Bahrain
Egypt
Iran
Iraq
Israel**
Jordan
Kuwait
Lebanon
Libya
Morocco
Oman
Pakistan
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
Somalia
Syria
Tunisia
Turkey
The United Arab Emirates
Yemen

* The former republics of the Soviet Union are typically lumped into one region, nearly 30 years after independence. In this listing, they've been placed where most appropriate.

** Israel may be located in the Middle East, but it is certainly an outsider culturally and perhaps better belongs attached to Europe, like its seaward neighbor and European Union member state, Cyprus.

Europe

The European continent and its local region contain 48 countries; thus, there aren't many surprises on this list. This region stretches from North America and back to North America as it encompasses Iceland and all of Russia. The region has about three-quarters of its population living in urban areas in 2018. Having so many peninsulas, and the region itself being a peninsula of Eurasia, means a wealth of coastline on its mainland—more than 24,000 miles (38,000 km) of it, in fact.

Albania
Andorra
Armenia
Austria
Belarus
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland*
Ireland
Italy
Kosovo
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macedonia
Malta
Moldova
Monaco
Montenegro
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
San Marino
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Ukraine
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland**
Vatican City

* Iceland straddles the Eurasian plate and the North American plate, so geographically it is halfway between Europe and North America. However, its culture and settlement are clearly European in nature.

** The United Kingdom is the country composed of the constituent entities known as England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

North America

Economic powerhouse North America includes only three countries, but it is most of a continent and thus a region onto itself. It includes almost all the major climate biomes because it stretches from the Arctic to the tropics. In the farthest reaches north, the region stretches halfway around the world, from Greenland to Alaska, but in its farthest point south, Panama has a narrow point that's only 31 miles (50 km) wide.

Canada
Greenland*
Mexico
The United States of America

* Greenland is not yet an independent country. It is an autonomous territory of Denmark.

Central America and the Caribbean

Among the 20 countries of Central America and the Caribbean, none are landlocked, and half are islands. In fact, there is no location in Central America that is more than 125 miles (200 km) from the sea.

Volcanoes and earthquakes go hand in hand in this region, as many of the islands in the Caribbean are volcanic in origin and not dormant. 

Antigua and Barbuda
The Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Costa Rica
Cuba
Dominica
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Grenada
Guatemala
Haiti
Honduras
Jamaica
Nicaragua
Panama
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago

South America

Twelve countries occupy South America, which stretches from the equator to nearly the Antarctic Circle. It's separated from Antarctica by the 600-mile (1,000 km) wide Drake Passage. The continent contains the highest point in the Western Hemisphere, Mount Aconcagua, in the Andes Mountians, in Argentina near Chile. The southeastern part of Argentina has the hemisphere's lowest point, too, The Valdés Peninsula, 131 feet (40 m) below sea level.

Many Latin American countries are experiencing a financial contraction (such as unfunded pensions for an aging populace, deficit government spending, or the inability to spend on public services) and also have some of the most closed economies in the world.

Argentina
Bolivia
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Ecuador
Guyana
Paraguay
Peru
Suriname
Uruguay
Venezuela

Sub-Saharan Africa

There are 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

(Some of these countries are actually intra-Saharan, or within the Sahara Desert.) Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world and by 2050 will overtake the United States as the world's third most populous. As a whole, Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent.

Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa achieved independence only between the 1960s and 1980s, so their own economies and infrastructure are still developing, though it's most difficult for the countries that are landlocked. They have extra hurdles in growing trade due to transportation issues and having to pass through other countries to get goods to port.

Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cameroon
Cape Verde
The Central African Republic
Chad
Comoros
Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Cote d'Ivoire
Djibouti
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Ethiopia
Gabon
The Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Sudan
Sudan
Swaziland
Tanzania
Togo
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Australia and Oceania

The 15 countries of Australia and Oceania vary widely in their cultures and occupy a large swath of the world ocean although (with the exception of continent-country Australia), do not occupy much land. Islands have been known—since Charles Darwin pointed it out—for their endemic species, and Australia and Oceania show that clearly. About 80 percent of the species on Australia are unique to that country, for instance, and endangered species extend from the oceans to the sky in this region.

Challenges to conservation there include the remote location and fact that much of the ocean waters there are outside countries' direct jurisdictions.

Australia
East Timor*
Fiji
Kiribati
Marshall Islands
The Federated States of Micronesia
Nauru
New Zealand
Palau
Papua New Guinea
Samoa
Solomon Islands
Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu

* While East Timor lies on an Indonesian (Asian) island, its eastern location requires that it be located in the Oceania nations of the world.