How many countries are there in the world? People have argued that there are 196 countries although many believe that there are 195 countries since they do not consider Taiwan as an independent country but instead as one of the provinces of the People’s Republic of China. There are only 193 countries officially recognized by the UN and two non-member observer states - the Vatican and Palestine. But these countries are the only officially recognized states by the UN, meaning some other countries in the world might be seeking their independence and as such are partially recognized. Some of these countries form part of the independent states such as countries formed by the collapse of Soviet Union. Here are five countries that might be mysterious to many.
5. Rehoboth Basters
The Basters are an ethnic group in Namibia who are descendants of the European settlers and the indigenous Southern Africans. They are considered a subgroup of the Afrikaners in Namibia. They have inhabited the Central Namibia since the second half of 19th century, especially in and around the town of Rehoboth. They migrated to Rehoboth around 1868 and were given permission to permanently settle around the area during a peace conference of Okahandja in 1870. The settlement was to separate them from the Nama and Herero. While at Rehoboth, the Basters drafted a constitution, installed their leaders, and set out their settlement structure. In 1885, they entered into an agreement with the Germans leading to the German colonial expansion in Rehoboth. After the German’s defeat by South African army, several efforts were made by the Basters to reestablish the independence of Rehoboth. They were incorporated into apartheid. Between 1979 and 1989, a new government was set up to govern Rehoboth as a semi-independent state. When Namibia became independent in 1990, Rehoboth lost its self-government. Since then, the Basters have been campaigning to reclaim their independence from Namibia.
Forvik, officially known as the Sovereign State of Forvik, is an unrecognized micronation covering an area of about 2.5 acres of the island of Forewick Holm in the Shetland Island. Forvik was established by island’s controversial owner, Stuart Hill, in 2008 when he declared the area a British Dependency Crown. However, the United Kingdom through the Ministry of Justice considered Forvik part of Shetland Island and as such was subject to the UK’s legislation. The ownership of the island was disputed and there were no inhabitants except Hill who lived in tents at the time. The name Forvik was given to the island by Hill and is a pseudo-Norse version for Forewick which is the name of the headland on the adjacent Papa Stour Island. Forvik undertakes all the activities open to sovereign states including having its own parliament called The Ting. It also has its own constitution which has been signed by every member. Forvik issues citizenships, passports, and its own currency. In an attempt to attain independence, Forvik does not recognize the United Kingdom or the European Union as its superior. It also claims all rights to the sea and seabed in its water.
Barotseland is located between Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, and Zambia. It is inhabited by the Lozi people or Barotse which is a unity of over 20 previously individual tribes that are related through kinship. The Lozi people speak the complex Silozi language derived from Sesotho. Barotseland covers an area of about 126,000 square kilometers but might have been larger at a certain time in history. Barotseland enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy under the British colonial administration in the 19th century following the negotiations between the British South African Company and the Litunga (King) of Barotseland. The Barotseland gave the company minerals in exchange for the protectorate status. The kingdom of Barotseland was divided into two, north and south, with a man taking charge of the north and the woman taking the south. In 1964, Kenneth Kaunda and Litunga signed an agreement establishing Barotseland within Zambia. The agreement granted Barotse local self-governance right. In 1969, the government of Zambia changed Barotseland’s name to Western Province announcing that all provinces would be treated equally. Barotseland has since expressed a desire to secede and is theoretically independent of Zambia. It has a flag and a government called Kuta that is presided over by Ngambela or prime minister.
Elgaland-Vargaland is an art project and a micronation that was developed by Carl Michael Von Hausswolff and Leif Elggren in 1992. They formed the name out of their own names and defined the country as the border of other countries. The two felt that it was kind of silly that their country, Sweden, still had a king. They named themselves kings and the country were only announced in an advert in Dagens Nyheter newspaper on May 27, 1992. Elgaland-Vargaland undertakes some of the activities open to the sovereign states including a flag and a national anthem. It also issues passports and stamps on request and has several embassies, mainly art exhibitions. By 2007, Elgaland-Vargaland had 850 citizens and by 2014 it had claimed about 1000 citizens. They also regard dead people as citizens. In 2007, they announced that they had annexed Isola di San Michele, an island cemetery. Elgaland-Vargaland has established 20 embassies in different parts of the world with the ambassadors given the freedom to do whatever they want in the name of the kingdom.
The Empire of Atlantium is a micronation surrounded by sheep paddocks in rural New South Wales, Australia. It is located a short distance from the town of Boorowa and covers an area of about 0.8 square kilometers. Atlantium was founded in 1981 by George Cruickshank, George Duggan, and Claire Marie. Cruickshank was declared the sovereign Head of State with the title “Emperor GeorgeII.” The group ceased to be active in 1990 and was only revived in 1999 with the launching of a website that was instrumental in attracting more members. Aurora was made the global administrative capital of Atlantium and its spiritual homeland. Atlantium does not maintain any territorial claim. However, it promotes the idea that Aurora has extraordinary status in Australia. As of 2015, Atlantium has almost 3,000 citizens from over 100 countries with about 20 individuals holding functions such as imperial legate, ministers, and judges. Atlantians consider themselves dual-citizens and members are encouraged to participate in activities of their resident countries.