Official Listing of Countries by World Region

The Eight Groupings of the World by Location and Culture

World In Geographic Projection, True Colour Satellite Image

Planet Observer/Getty Images

The 196 countries of the world can be logically divided into eight regions based on their geography, mostly aligning with the continent on which they are located. That said, some groupings don't strictly adhere to divisions by continent. For example, the Middle East and North Africa are separated from sub-Saharan Africa along cultural lines. Likewise, the Caribbean and Central America are grouped separately from North and South America 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 and it is the world's largest and most populous region, with about 60 percent of the world's population living there. The region boasts five of the 10 most populous countries in the world, with India and China taking the top two spots.

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 considered as part of the Middle East (such as Pakistan). Their inclusion is based on culture. Turkey is also sometimes placed in lists of Asian and Europan countries since geographically, it straddles them both. In the last 50 years of the 20th century, due to a decline in mortality rates and a high rate of the fertility rate, this region grew faster than any other in the world. As a result, demographics there skew young, while in many more developed regions, such as in Asia, Europe, and North America, population bubbles skew older.

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

Europe

The European continent and its local region contain 48 countries and stretches from North America and back to North America as it encompasses Iceland and all of Russia. As of 2018, data shows that about three-quarters of its population live in urban areas. 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 kilometers) 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 (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.)
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 (The United Kingdom is the country composed of the constituent entities known as England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.)
Vatican City

North America

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

Canada
Greenland (Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark, not an independent country.)
Mexico
The United States of America

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 kilometers) 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 Drake Passage which is 600 miles wide (1,000 kilometers). Mount Aconcagua, located in the Andes Mountains in Argentina near Chile is the highest point in the Western Hemisphere. At 131 feet (40 meters) below sea level, the Valdés Peninsula, located in southeastern Argentina is the hemisphere's lowest point. 

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 the year 2050, will overtake the United States as the world's third most populous nation. As a whole, Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent.

Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa achieved independence between the 1960s and 1980s, so their economies and infrastructure are still developing. This is is proving most difficult for countries that are landlocked due to the extra hurdles in transportation and right of way they must overcome to get their goods to and from 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 by culture and occupy a large swath of the world ocean. With the exception of continent/country Australia, the region does not occupy a great deal of land. Islands have been known—since Charles Darwin pointed it out—for their endemic species and nowhere is this more apparent than in Australia and Oceania. For instance, about 80 percent of the species in Australia are unique to that country. Endangered species in the region range from those in the ocean to those in the sky. Challenges to conservation include the remote location and fact that much of the area's oceans are outside the direct jurisdiction of the countries there.

Australia
East Timor (While East Timor lies on an Indonesian [Asian] island, its eastern location requires that it be located in the Oceania nations of the world.)
Fiji
Kiribati
Marshall Islands
The Federated States of Micronesia
Nauru
New Zealand
Palau
Papua New Guinea
Samoa
Solomon Islands
Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu