Geography

How Many Countries Are There In The World?

There are 194 countries in the world, 193 belong to the UN and the remaining one is the Holy See (commonly referred to as the Vatican).

If you were to ask ten people how many countries are in the world, you would probably hear ten different answers. Here at worldatlas we site 194 countries based on the 193 that belong to the United Nations (UN) plus the Holy See (Vatican), which is a non-member observer state. These 194 countries have full international recogonization as soveriegn states by other United Nation members. 

Differing Opinions

Many sources such as worldometers state 195 countries, 193 UN members plus the two non member states but in that count they include the State of Palestine which is only recognized in 138 of the 193 United Nation member states and countires like the United States and Canada do not recognize it. 

The United States offically recogonizes 195 countries as well, it has a simillar list of countries but instead of recognizing the State of Palestine it actually recognizes Kosovo. Only 97 out of the 193 United Nation member states recognize Kosovo. In particular Spain is one of the biggest opponets due to its oppostion to the Basque and Catalan indpendence movements within its own country. 

Sources do not always agree on the total number of countries in the world. Looking at worldpopulationreview, this site claims there are 197 countries. They count Holy See and Palestine as UN observers but also consider Taiwan, and Kosovo to be self-governed territories that both have substantial economic resources of their own.

The latter fact is because Taiwan is considered as part of the Chinese territory; the same is correct for Kosovo being part of Serbia. With all the socio-economic, geographical, and political difficulties, this can all be subject to change with the passage of time.

Generally, the UN seems to be a reliable source for the total number of countries. For a country to be a part of this organization, a country must apply for membership, be assessed, and then be voted in. The country has to be approved from the five permanent member countries: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).

Complicating Things

The constant flux of politics and globalization are continually redefining countries, so agreeing on a final count can be difficult. In addition to the reasons already described, here are some additional facts.

  • Switzerland did not join the UN until 2002 and was a sovereign state before they came on board.
  • The United Kingdom plays a substantial part on the global economic front and is a permanent UN Security Council member. Even so, the United Kingdom includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. All four have complicated political histories – including territorial disputes. These are ongoing to this very day.
  • Greenland, on its own, is not a UN member country and operates much of its domestic affairs. However, it is controlled by Denmark, which is thousands of miles away in Europe. Denmark is also a lot smaller than Greenland!
  • Niue and The Cook Islands are not UN member states. They are both in free association with New Zealand. New Zealand is “members of “several UN specialized agencies.” They are recognized as "full treaty-making capacity.”
  • Also, there are a total of 39 regions that are dependent on other territories: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Réunion, Macao, Western Sahara, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Mayotte, Channel Islands, Guam, Curaçao, Aruba, U.S. Virgin Islands, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Northern Mariana Islands, Greenland, American Samoa, Faeroe Islands, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos, Gibraltar, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean, Netherlands, Cook Islands, Anguilla Wallis & Futuna, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Helena, Saint Pierre & Miquelon, Montserrat, Falkland Islands, Niue, and Tokelau.

Breaking Down the Chart

Running alphabetically from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the list of 195 countries provides some interesting information, including 2020 populations, land areas, and densities for each country. The five most highly-population countries are:

  1. China 1,439,323,776 (18.5% of the worlds’ population lives here)
  2. India 1,380,004,385 (17.7%)                              
  3. United States 331,002,651 (4.2%)
  4. Indonesia 273,523,615 (3.51%)
  5. Pakistan 220,892,340 (2.83%)

Also notable is the fact that aside from the United States, the remaining four are all in the continent of Asia.

Size-Wise

Looking at landmass, a different picture comes to light. Russia is by far the largest, at close to twice the total area of Canada. Canada and China are similar, followed by the United States, and then Brazil.

  1. Russia 17,098,242 (mi²)
  2. Canada 9,984,670
  3. China 9,706,961
  4. United States 9,372,610
  5. Brazil 8,515,767

Though Russia is the largest country, it is the ninth most densely populated; Canada has even more wide-open space, coming in as the 39th most densely populated.

The Future

Some researchers believe that there could be even more countries in the future. One of these is East & West Libya. This is because Libya has often been in turmoil, because of extremists there fighting for control and different governments trying to take over since Gaddafi was overthrown. Based in Barcelona, Spain, Catalonia is the country’s financial center. Catalans have wanted a separate state for many years, although many are opposed to separation.

Somaliland (part of Somalia) considers itself independent and has its own government, army, and currency. It had self-proclaimed independence and has informal ties with other countries. Formal recognition from the rest of the world is yet to come, though.

Nope, Scotland is not a country; it is part of the United Kingdom. Some Scotlanders want to keep things as is, but others want to split. A 2014 referendum vote for Scottish independence did not pass, and the vote for Brexit revealed that 62 percent wanted to remain with the European Union.

States With Full International Recognition

CountryPopulation (2020)Land Area (Km²)Density (P/Km²)
Afghanistan38,928,346652,86060
Albania2,877,79727,400105
Algeria43,851,0442,381,74018
Andorra77,265470164
Angola32,866,2721,246,70026
Antigua and Barbuda97,929440223
Argentina45,195,7742,736,69017
Armenia2,963,24328,470104
Australia25,499,8847,682,3003
Austria9,006,39882,409109
Azerbaijan10,139,17782,658123
Bahamas393,24410,01039
Bahrain1,701,5757602,239
Bangladesh164,689,383130,1701,265
Barbados287,375430668
Belarus9,449,323202,91047
Belgium11,589,62330,280383
Belize397,62822,81017
Benin12,123,200112,760108
Bhutan771,60838,11720
Bolivia11,673,0211,083,30011
Bosnia and Herzegovina3,280,81951,00064
Botswana2,351,627566,7304
Brazil212,559,4178,358,14025
Brunei437,4795,27083
Bulgaria6,948,445108,56064
Burkina Faso20,903,273273,60076
Burundi11,890,78425,680463
Côte d'Ivoire26,378,274318,00083
Cabo Verde555,9874,030138
Cambodia16,718,965176,52095
Cameroon26,545,863472,71056
Canada37,742,1549,093,5104
Central African Republic4,829,767622,9808
Chad16,425,8641,259,20013
Chile19,116,201743,53226
China1,439,323,7769,388,211153
Colombia50,882,8911,109,50046
Comoros869,6011,861467
Congo (Congo-Brazzaville)5,518,087341,50016
Costa Rica5,094,11851,060100
Croatia4,105,26755,96073
Cuba11,326,616106,440106
Cyprus1,207,3599,240131
Czechia (Czech Republic)10,708,98177,240139
Democratic Republic of the Congo89,561,4032,267,05040
Denmark5,792,20242,430137
Djibouti988,00023,18043
Dominica71,98675096
Dominican Republic10,847,91048,320225
Ecuador17,643,054248,36071
Egypt102,334,404995,450103
El Salvador6,486,20520,720313
Equatorial Guinea1,402,98528,05050
Eritrea3,546,421101,00035
Estonia1,326,53542,39031
Eswatini (fmr. "Swaziland")1,160,16417,20067
Ethiopia114,963,5881,000,000115
Fiji896,44518,27049
Finland5,540,720303,89018
France65,273,511547,557119
Gabon2,225,734257,6709
Gambia2,416,66810,120239
Georgia3,989,16769,49057
Germany83,783,942348,560240
Ghana31,072,940227,540137
Greece10,423,054128,90081
Grenada112,523340331
Guatemala17,915,568107,160167
Guinea13,132,795245,72053
Guinea-Bissau1,968,00128,12070
Guyana786,552196,8504
Haiti11,402,52827,560414
Holy See80102,003
Honduras9,904,607111,89089
Hungary9,660,35190,530107
Iceland341,243100,2503
India1,380,004,3852,973,190464
Indonesia273,523,6151,811,570151
Iran83,992,9491,628,55052
Iraq40,222,493434,32093
Ireland4,937,78668,89072
Israel8,655,53521,640400
Italy60,461,826294,140206
Jamaica2,961,16710,830273
Japan126,476,461364,555347
Jordan10,203,13488,780115
Kazakhstan18,776,7072,699,7007
Kenya53,771,296569,14094
Kiribati119,449810147
Kuwait4,270,57117,820240
Kyrgyzstan6,524,195191,80034
Laos7,275,560230,80032
Latvia1,886,19862,20030
Lebanon6,825,44510,230667
Lesotho2,142,24930,36071
Liberia5,057,68196,32053
Libya6,871,2921,759,5404
Liechtenstein38,128160238
Lithuania2,722,28962,67443
Luxembourg625,9782,590242
Madagascar27,691,018581,79548
Malawi19,129,95294,280203
Malaysia32,365,999328,55099
Maldives540,5443001,802
Mali20,250,8331,220,19017
Malta441,5433201,380
Marshall Islands59,190180329
Mauritania4,649,6581,030,7005
Mauritius1,271,7682,030626
Mexico128,932,7531,943,95066
Micronesia115,023700164
Moldova4,033,96332,850123
Monaco39,242126,337
Mongolia3,278,2901,553,5602
Montenegro628,06613,45047
Morocco36,910,560446,30083
Mozambique31,255,435786,38040
Myanmar (formerly Burma)54,409,800653,29083
Namibia2,540,905823,2903
Nauru10,82420541
Nepal29,136,808143,350203
Netherlands17,134,87233,720508
New Zealand4,822,233263,31018
Nicaragua6,624,554120,34055
Niger24,206,6441,266,70019
Nigeria206,139,589910,770226
North Korea25,778,816120,410214
North Macedonia2,083,37425,22083
Norway5,421,241365,26815
Oman5,106,626309,50016
Pakistan220,892,340770,880287
Palau18,09446039
Panama4,314,76774,34058
Papua New Guinea8,947,024452,86020
Paraguay7,132,538397,30018
Peru32,971,8541,280,00026
Philippines109,581,078298,170368
Poland37,846,611306,230124
Portugal10,196,70991,590111
Qatar2,881,05311,610248
Romania19,237,691230,17084
Russia145,934,46216,376,8709
Rwanda12,952,21824,670525
Saint Kitts and Nevis53,199260205
Saint Lucia183,627610301
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines110,940390284
Samoa198,4142,83070
San Marino33,93160566
Sao Tome and Principe219,159960228
Saudi Arabia34,813,8712,149,69016
Senegal16,743,927192,53087
Serbia8,737,37187,460100
Seychelles98,347460214
Sierra Leone7,976,98372,180111
Singapore5,850,3427008,358
Slovakia5,459,64248,088114
Slovenia2,078,93820,140103
Solomon Islands686,88427,99025
Somalia15,893,222627,34025
South Africa59,308,6901,213,09049
South Korea51,269,18597,230527
South Sudan11,193,725610,95218
Spain46,754,778498,80094
Sri Lanka21,413,24962,710341
Sudan43,849,2601,765,04825
Suriname586,632156,0004
Sweden10,099,265410,34025
Switzerland8,654,62239,516219
Syria17,500,658183,63095
Tajikistan9,537,645139,96068
Tanzania59,734,218885,80067
Thailand69,799,978510,890137
Timor-Leste1,318,44514,87089
Togo8,278,72454,390152
Tonga105,695720147
Trinidad and Tobago1,399,4885,130273
Tunisia11,818,619155,36076
Turkey84,339,067769,630110
Turkmenistan6,031,200469,93013
Tuvalu11,79230393
Uganda45,741,007199,810229
Ukraine43,733,762579,32075
United Arab Emirates9,890,40283,600118
United Kingdom67,886,011241,930281
United States of America331,002,6519,147,42036
Uruguay3,473,730175,02020
Uzbekistan33,469,203425,40079
Vanuatu307,14512,19025
Venezuela28,435,940882,05032
Vietnam97,338,579310,070314
Yemen29,825,964527,97056
Zambia18,383,955743,39025
Zimbabwe14,862,924386,85038

About the Author

Ellen Kershner is a South Jersey-based writer who contributes to WorldAtlas.com, 55places.com, Natural Awakenings Magazine, Spryte Communications, Advanta Advertising, and Premier Legal Marketing. Her work has also been published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ed Hitzel’s Restaurant Magazine, and the Burlington County NJ Trend newspaper group.  

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