How Many Countries Are There?

Elizabeth Borneman

Updated:

Ask someone how many countries there are in the world, and the answer might surprise you. In fact, although they may hazard a wild guess, they may not be entirely wrong.

The answer to the number of countries in the world isn’t a straightforward answer.   There are a few different answers to this question, depending on who you ask and where you ask the question. The total number varies, depending on the source and the definition of what a country is.

What is the Definition of a Country?

Let’s start with what defines a country. In reality, there isn’t a standard definition of what is a country [1].

A country could be defined as a place that has a permanent population, exists in a specific geographical area, and is able to govern itself with functional political structures.


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Map showing a cropped view of central European countries.  Map: Natural Earth Data.
Map showing a cropped view of central European countries. Map: Natural Earth Data.

A country could also be a group of people with a common cultural background, identity, and traditions.

A sovereign nation or state needs to have the ability to make treaties, conduct trade, and operate diplomatically with other countries; essentially, it needs a functioning government. 

So, although a group of people may identify themselves as belonging to a certain place, they may not be considered a country if they do not occupy any territory or land. Additionally, a country might have land but not have a functioning government, which makes other nations unable to conduct foreign relations with it. 

Is Greenland a country?

Greenland is a large island located between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean northeast of Canada. While Greenland geologically is considered part of the North American continent, it is not its own country. Greenland is an autonomous territory of the European country Denmark, although it has a significant degree of self-governance, including its own local government and parliament.

Map of Greenland. Source: CIA, 2008.
Map of Greenland. Source: CIA, 2008.

How Many Countries Does the United Nations Recognize?

According to the United Nations, the body organized to uphold the rights of people around the globe, a new country has to be recognized by other states who are members of the United Nations before it is considered a country.

The recognition of a new state assumes that this new state is willing and able to assume diplomatic relations with other member countries of the United Nations. 

Flags representing member countries fly in front of United Nations Headquarters in New York. Photo: USAID, public domain
Flags representing member countries fly in front of United Nations Headquarters in New York. Photo: USAID, public domain

In most cases, the ultimate country count rests on the number of UN member states that are recognized by that international body. There are 193 members, which could imply that there are 193 countries [2]. And yet…..

There are 193 countries that are recognized members of the UN as well as two UN observer states. The two UN observer states (also known as non-member observer states) are the Holy See (also known as the Vatican) and the Palestinian Authority. 

Additionally, there are six countries that have obtained partial recognition from UN member states. These are Taiwan, Western Sahara, Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Northern Cyprus.

These territories are claimed by other countries but are not controlled by them. Depending on the type of map you look at, these countries will be surrounded by a dotted line rather than a solid one demarcating an independent nation from the countries around it. 

South Sudan was recognized as a country in 2011, which is the latest member nation to be admitted to the UN. 

The United Nations Membership List Doesn’t Account for All Countries

There are also some partially recognized states like the Cook Islands, which often act like independent countries but have not declared independence or shown interest in joining the UN.

There are only three self-declared nations that have not been recognized by any UN member states; they are Somaliland, Transnistria, and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). 

Map showing the self-declared nation of Transnistria.  Map made with Natural Earth Data.
Map showing the self-declared nation of Transnistria. Map made with Natural Earth Data.

So, if all of these countries are added together, there are 201 countries in the world.

But we’re not done! Still, depending on who you ask, there could be up to 249 countries on Earth. On a complete list of country codes you will find 249 nations listed, because dependent territories and self-declared nations are included.

How Many Countries Does the United States Recognize?

The United States formally recognizes 195 countries.

Table: List of Countries Recognized by the United States

Listed here are the countries recognized by the United States. Source: List of countries and recognition states: Independent States in the World, U.S. Department of State, January 29, 2021. Sizes of countries: CIA World Factbook.

Countries are listed by short name followed by long-form name:

  • Afghanistan ~ Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  • Albania ~ Republic of Albania
  • Algeria ~ People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
  • Andorra ~ Principality of Andorra
  • Angola ~ Republic of Angola
  • Antigua and Barbuda ~ Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina ~ Argentine Republic
  • Armenia ~ Republic of Armenia
  • Australia ~ Commonwealth of Australia
  • Austria ~ Republic of Austria
  • Azerbaijan ~ Republic of Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas, ~ Commonwealth of The Bahamas
  • Bahrain ~ Kingdom of Bahrain
  • Bangladesh ~ People’s Republic of Bangladesh
  • Barbados ~ Barbados
  • Belarus ~ Republic of Belarus
  • Belgium ~ Kingdom of Belgium
  • Belize ~ Belize
  • Benin ~ Republic of Benin
  • Bhutan ~ Kingdom of Bhutan
  • Bolivia ~ Plurinational State of Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina ~ Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Botswana ~ Republic of Botswana
  • Brazil ~ Federative Republic of Brazil
  • Brunei ~ Brunei Darussalam
  • Bulgaria ~ Republic of Bulgaria
  • Burkina ~ Burkina Faso
  • Burma ~ Union of Burma
  • Burundi ~ Republic of Burundi
  • Cabo ~ Republic of Cabo Verde
  • Cambodia ~ Kingdom of Cambodia
  • Cameroon ~ Republic of Cameroon
  • Canada ~ Canada
  • Central African Republic ~ Central African Republic
  • Chad ~ Republic of Chad
  • Chile ~ Republic of Chile
  • China ~ People’s Republic of China
  • Colombia ~ Republic of Colombia
  • Comoros ~ Union of the Comoros
  • Congo, Democratic Republic of the ~ Democratic Republic of the Congo 
  • Congo, Republic of the ~ Republic of the Congo
  • Costa Rica ~ Republic of Costa Rica
  • Côte d’Ivoire ~ Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
  • Croatia ~ Republic of Croatia
  • Cuba ~ Republic of Cuba
  • Cyprus ~ Republic of Cyprus
  • Czechia ~ Czech Republic
  • Denmark ~ Kingdom of Denmark
  • Djibouti ~ Republic of Djibouti
  • Dominica ~ Commonwealth of Dominica
  • Dominican ~ Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador ~ Republic of Ecuador
  • Egypt ~ Arab Republic of Egypt
  • El Salvador ~ Republic of El Salvador
  • Equatorial ~ Republic of Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea ~ State of Eritrea
  • Estonia ~ Republic of Estonia
  • Eswatini ~ Kingdom of Eswatini
  • Ethiopia ~ Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
  • Fiji ~ Republic of Fiji
  • Finland ~ Republic of Finland
  • France ~ French Republic
  • Gabon ~ Gabonese Republic
  • Gambia, ~ Republic of The Gambia
  • Georgia ~ Georgia
  • Germany ~ Federal Republic of Germany
  • Ghana ~ Republic of Ghana
  • Greece ~ Hellenic Republic
  • Grenada ~ Grenada
  • Guatemala ~ Republic of Guatemala
  • Guinea ~ Republic of Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau ~ Republic of Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana ~ Co-operative Republic of Guyana
  • Haiti ~ Republic of Haiti
  • Holy See * ~ Holy See
  • Honduras ~ Republic of Honduras
  • Hungary ~ Hungary
  • Iceland ~ Republic of Iceland
  • India ~ Republic of India
  • Indonesia ~ Republic of Indonesia
  • Iran ~ Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Iraq ~ Republic of Iraq
  • Ireland ~ Ireland
  • Israel ~ State of Israel
  • Italy ~ Italian Republic
  • Jamaica ~ Jamaica
  • Japan ~ Japan
  • Jordan ~ Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Kazakhstan ~ Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Kenya ~ Republic of Kenya
  • Kiribati ~ Republic of Kiribati
  • Korea, North ~ Republic of Korea
  • Korea, South ~ Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  • Kosovo ~ Republic of Kosovo
  • Kuwait ~ State of Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan ~ Kyrgyz Republic
  • Laos ~ Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Latvia ~ Republic of Latvia
  • Lebanon ~ Lebanese Republic
  • Lesotho ~ Kingdom of Lesotho
  • Liberia ~ Republic of Liberia
  • Libya ~ State of Libya
  • Liechtenstein ~ Principality of Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania ~ Republic of Lithuania
  • Luxembourg ~ Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
  • Madagascar ~ Republic of Madagascar
  • Malawi ~ Republic of Malawi
  • Malaysia ~ Malaysia
  • Maldives ~ Republic of Maldives
  • Mali ~ Republic of Mali
  • Malta ~ Republic of Malta
  • Marshall ~ Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Mauritania ~ Islamic Republic of Mauritania
  • Mauritius ~ Republic of Mauritius
  • Mexico ~ United Mexican States
  • Micronesia, Federated States  ~ Federated States of Micronesia
  • Moldova ~ Republic of Moldova
  • Monaco ~ Principality of Monaco
  • Mongolia ~ Mongolia
  • Montenegro ~ Montenegro
  • Morocco ~ Kingdom of Morocco
  • Mozambique ~ Republic of Mozambique
  • Namibia ~ Republic of Namibia
  • Nauru ~ Republic of Nauru
  • Nepal ~ Nepal
  • Netherlands ~ Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • New Zealand ~ New Zealand
  • Nicaragua ~ Republic of Nicaragua
  • Niger ~ Republic of Niger
  • Nigeria ~ Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • North Macedonia ~ Republic of North Macedonia
  • Norway ~ Kingdom of Norway
  • Oman ~ Sultanate of Oman
  • Pakistan ~ Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • Palau ~ Republic of Palau
  • Palestine ~ State of Palestine
  • Panama ~ Republic of Panama
  • Papua ~ Independent State of Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay ~ Republic of Paraguay
  • Peru ~ Republic of Peru
  • Philippines ~ Republic of the Philippines
  • Poland ~ Republic of Poland
  • Portugal ~ Portuguese Republic
  • Qatar ~ State of Qatar
  • Romania ~ Romania
  • Russia ~ Russian Federation
  • Rwanda ~ Republic of Rwanda
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis ~ Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia ~ Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ~ Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Samoa ~ Independent State of Samoa
  • San ~ Republic of San Marino
  • Sao ~ Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe
  • Saudi Arabia ~ Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal ~ Republic of Senegal
  • Serbia ~ Republic of Serbia
  • Seychelles ~ Republic of Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone ~ Republic of Sierra Leone
  • Singapore ~ Republic of Singapore
  • Slovakia ~ Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia ~ Republic of Slovenia
  • Solomon ~ Solomon Islands
  • Somalia ~ Federal Republic of Somalia
  • South Africa ~ Republic of South Africa
  • South Sudan ~ Republic of South Sudan
  • Spain ~ Kingdom of Spain
  • Sri Lanka ~ Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
  • Sudan ~ Republic of the Sudan
  • Suriname ~ Republic of Suriname
  • Sweden ~ Kingdom of Sweden
  • Switzerland ~ Swiss Confederation
  • Syria ~ Syrian Arab Republic
  • Taiwan ~ Republic of China (ROC)
  • Tajikistan ~ Republic of Tajikistan
  • Tanzania ~ United Republic of Tanzania
  • Thailand ~ Kingdom of Thailand
  • Timor-Leste ~ Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
  • Togo ~ Togolese Republic
  • Tonga ~ Kingdom of Tonga
  • Trinidad ~ Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia ~ Republic of Tunisia
  • Turkey ~ Republic of Turkey
  • Turkmenistan ~ Turkmenistan
  • Tuvalu ~ Tuvalu
  • Uganda ~ Republic of Uganda
  • Ukraine ~ Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates ~ United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom ~ United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • United States of America ~ United States of America
  • Uruguay ~ Oriental Republic of Uruguay
  • Uzbekistan ~ Republic of Uzbekistan
  • Vanuatu ~ Republic of Vanuatu
  • Venezuela ~ Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
  • Vietnam ~ Socialist Republic of Vietnam
  • Yemen ~ Republic of Yemen
  • Zambia ~ Republic of Zambia
  • Zimbabwe ~ Republic of Zimbabwe

List of Countries by Region

Listed here are countries by region with some basic statistics listing the country’s area, rank in terms of area, status of United States recognition, and membership in the United Nations.

The designation of regions was taken from the CIA World Factbook. A list of countries by continent is listed further down on this page.

List of Countries in Africa

Map showing Africa region with each country a different color.
Map of Africa region. Source: CIA World Factbook, public domain.
Short NameLong-form nameU.S. recognitionMember of United NationsArea (km)Rank (area)
AlgeriaPeople’s Democratic Republic of AlgeriaYesYes2,381,74010
AngolaRepublic of AngolaYesYes1,246,70022
BeninRepublic of BeninYesYes112,622100
BotswanaRepublic of BotswanaYesYes581,73048
BurkinaBurkina FasoYesYes274,20074
BurundiRepublic of BurundiYesYes27,830142
CaboRepublic of Cabo VerdeYesYes4,033165
CameroonRepublic of CameroonYesYes475,44054
Central African RepublicCentral African RepublicYesNo622,98445
ChadRepublic of ChadYesYes1,284,00020
ComorosUnion of the ComorosYesYes2,235168
Congo, Democratic Republic of theDemocratic Republic of the Congo YesYes2,344,85811
Congo, Republic of theRepublic of the CongoYesYes342,00063
Côte d’IvoireRepublic of Côte d’IvoireYesYes322,46368
DjiboutiRepublic of DjiboutiYesYes43,094130
EgyptArab Republic of EgyptYesYes1,001,45029
EquatorialRepublic of Equatorial GuineaYesYes28,051141
EritreaState of EritreaYesYes117,60099
EswatiniKingdom of EswatiniYesYes17,364152
EthiopiaFederal Democratic Republic of EthiopiaYesYes1,104,30026
GabonGabonese RepublicYesYes267,66776
GambiaRepublic of The GambiaYesYes11,300158
GhanaRepublic of GhanaYesYes238,53380
GuineaRepublic of GuineaYesYes245,85777
Guinea-BissauRepublic of Guinea-BissauYesYes36,125134
KenyaRepublic of KenyaYesYes580,36749
LesothoKingdom of LesothoYesYes30,355137
LiberiaRepublic of LiberiaYesYes111,369102
LibyaState of LibyaYesYes1,759,54016
MadagascarRepublic of MadagascarYesYes587,04147
MalawiRepublic of MalawiYesYes118,48498
MaliRepublic of MaliYesYes1,240,19223
MauritaniaIslamic Republic of MauritaniaYesYes1,030,70028
MauritiusRepublic of MauritiusYesYes2,040169
MoroccoKingdom of MoroccoYesYes716,55039
MozambiqueRepublic of MozambiqueYesYes799,38034
NamibiaRepublic of NamibiaYesYes824,29233
NigerRepublic of NigerYesYes1,267,00021
NigeriaFederal Republic of NigeriaYesYes923,76831
RwandaRepublic of RwandaYesYes26,338144
SaoDemocratic Republic of Sao Tome and PrincipeYesYes964170
SenegalRepublic of SenegalYesYes196,72286
SeychellesRepublic of SeychellesYesYes455180
Sierra LeoneRepublic of Sierra LeoneYesYes71,740117
SomaliaFederal Republic of SomaliaYesYes637,65744
South AfricaRepublic of South AfricaYesYes1,219,09024
South SudanRepublic of South SudanYesYes644,32942
SudanRepublic of the SudanYesYes1,861,48415
TanzaniaUnited Republic of TanzaniaYesYes947,30030
TogoTogolese RepublicYesYes56,785123
TunisiaRepublic of TunisiaYesYes163,61091
UgandaRepublic of UgandaYesYes241,03879
ZambiaRepublic of ZambiaYesYes752,61838
ZimbabweRepublic of ZimbabweYesYes390,75760

List of Countries in Australia – Oceania

Map showing the Oceania region with each country a different color.
Map of the Oceania Region. Source: CIA World Factbook, public domain.
AustraliaCommonwealth of AustraliaYesYes7,741,2206
FijiRepublic of FijiYesYes18,274150
KiribatiRepublic of KiribatiYesYes811171
MarshallRepublic of the Marshall IslandsYesYes181189
Micronesia, Federated States Federated States of MicronesiaYesNo702176
NauruRepublic of NauruYesYes21193
New ZealandNew ZealandYesYes268,83875
North MacedoniaRepublic of North MacedoniaYesYes25,713145
PalauRepublic of PalauYesYes459179
PalestineState of PalestineNoNo (Observer State)12194
SamoaIndependent State of SamoaYesYes2,831166
SolomonSolomon IslandsYesYes28,896139
TongaKingdom of TongaYesYes747174
TuvaluTuvaluYesYes26192
VanuatuRepublic of VanuatuYesYes12,189156

Asia

Map showing Asia region with each country a different color.
Map of Asia region. Source: CIA World Factbook, public domain.

List of Countries in Central Asia

KazakhstanRepublic of KazakhstanYesYes2,724,9009
KyrgyzstanKyrgyz RepublicYesYes199,95185
RussiaRussian FederationYesYes17,098,2421
TajikistanRepublic of TajikistanYesYes144,10094
TurkmenistanTurkmenistanYesYes488,10053
UzbekistanRepublic of UzbekistanYesYes447,40057

List of Countries in East Asia/Southeast Asia

BruneiBrunei DarussalamYesYes5,765163
BurmaUnion of BurmaYesYes676,57840
CambodiaKingdom of CambodiaYesYes181,03588
ChinaPeople’s Republic of ChinaYesYes9,596,9604
IndonesiaRepublic of IndonesiaYesYes1,904,56914
JapanJapanYesYes377,91561
Korea, NorthRepublic of KoreaYesYes120,53897
Korea, SouthDemocratic People’s Republic of KoreaYesYes99,720107
LaosLao People’s Democratic RepublicYesYes236,80082
MalaysiaMalaysiaYesYes329,84766
MongoliaMongoliaYesYes1,564,11618
PapuaIndependent State of Papua New GuineaYesYes462,84055
PhilippinesRepublic of the PhilippinesYesYes300,00072
SingaporeRepublic of SingaporeYesYes719175
ThailandKingdom of ThailandYesYes513,12051
Timor-LesteDemocratic Republic of Timor-LesteYesYes14,874153
VietnamSocialist Republic of VietnamYesYes331,21065

List of Countries in South Asia

AfghanistanIslamic Republic of AfghanistanYesYes652,23041
BangladeshPeople’s Republic of BangladeshYesYes148,46092
BhutanKingdom of BhutanYesYes38,394133
IndiaRepublic of IndiaYesYes3,287,2637
MaldivesRepublic of MaldivesYesYes298187
NepalNepalYesYes147,18193
PakistanIslamic Republic of PakistanYesYes796,09535
Sri LankaDemocratic Socialist Republic of Sri LankaYesYes65,610120

List of Countries in Europe

Map showing Europe region with each country a different color.
Map of Europe region. Source: CIA World Factbook, public domain.
AlbaniaRepublic of AlbaniaYesYes28,748140
AndorraPrincipality of AndorraYesYes468178
AustriaRepublic of AustriaYesYes83,871112
BelarusRepublic of BelarusYesYes207,60084
BelgiumKingdom of BelgiumYesYes30,528136
Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and HerzegovinaYesYes51,197125
BulgariaRepublic of BulgariaYesYes110,879103
CroatiaRepublic of CroatiaYesYes56,594124
CzechiaCzech RepublicYesYes9,251162
DenmarkKingdom of DenmarkYesYes78,867114
EstoniaRepublic of EstoniaYesYes45,228129
FinlandRepublic of FinlandYesYes338,14564
FranceFrench RepublicYesYes643,80143
GermanyFederal Republic of GermanyYesYes357,02262
GreeceHellenic RepublicYesYes131,95795
Holy See *Holy SeeYesNo (Observer State)0196
HungaryHungaryYesYes93,028108
IcelandRepublic of IcelandYesYes103,000106
IrelandIrelandYesYes70,273118
ItalyItalian RepublicYesYes301,34071
KosovoRepublic of KosovoYesNo10,887160
LatviaRepublic of LatviaYesYes64,589122
LiechtensteinPrincipality of LiechtensteinYesYes160190
LithuaniaRepublic of LithuaniaYesYes65,300121
LuxembourgGrand Duchy of LuxembourgYesYes2,586167
MaltaRepublic of MaltaYesYes316186
MoldovaRepublic of MoldovaYesYes33,851135
MonacoPrincipality of MonacoYesYes2195
MontenegroMontenegroYesYes13,812155
NetherlandsKingdom of the NetherlandsYesYes41,543131
NorwayKingdom of NorwayYesYes323,80267
PolandRepublic of PolandYesYes312,68569
PortugalPortuguese RepublicYesYes92,090109
RomaniaRomaniaYesYes238,39181
SanRepublic of San MarinoYesYes61191
SerbiaRepublic of SerbiaYesYes77,474115
SlovakiaSlovak RepublicYesYes49,035127
SloveniaRepublic of SloveniaYesYes20,273149
SpainKingdom of SpainYesYes505,37052
SwedenKingdom of SwedenYesYes450,29556
SwitzerlandSwiss ConfederationYesYes41,277132
UkraineUkraineYesYes603,55046
United KingdomUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandYesYes243,61078

List of Countries in the Middle East

Map showing the Middle East region with each country a different color.
Map of the Middle East Region. Source: CIA World Factbook, public domain.
ArmeniaRepublic of ArmeniaYesYes29,743138
AzerbaijanRepublic of AzerbaijanYesYes86,600111
BahrainKingdom of BahrainYesYes760172
GeorgiaGeorgiaYesYes69,700119
IranIslamic Republic of IranYesYes1,648,19517
IraqRepublic of IraqYesYes438,31758
IsraelState of IsraelYesYes21,937147
JordanHashemite Kingdom of JordanYesYes89,342110
KuwaitState of KuwaitYesYes17,818151
LebanonLebanese RepublicYesYes10,400161
OmanSultanate of OmanYesYes309,50070
QatarState of QatarYesYes11,586157
Saudi ArabiaKingdom of Saudi ArabiaYesYes2,149,69012
SyriaSyrian Arab RepublicYesYes187,43787
TurkeyRepublic of TurkeyYesYes783,56236
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab EmiratesYesYes83,600113
YemenRepublic of YemenYesYes527,96850

List of Countries in Central America

Map showing Central America region and the Caribbean with each country a different color.
Map of Central America region and the Caribbean. Source: CIA World Factbook, public domain.
Antigua and BarbudaAntigua and BarbudaYesYes443182
BahamasCommonwealth of The BahamasYesYes13,880154
BarbadosBarbadosYesYes430183
BelizeBelizeYesYes22,966146
Costa RicaRepublic of Costa RicaYesYes51,100126
CubaRepublic of CubaYesYes110,860104
CyprusRepublic of CyprusYesYes444181
DominicaCommonwealth of DominicaYesYes751173
DominicanDominican RepublicYesYes48,670128
El SalvadorRepublic of El SalvadorYesYes21,041148
GrenadaGrenadaYesYes344185
GuatemalaRepublic of GuatemalaYesYes108,889105
HaitiRepublic of HaitiYesYes27,750143
HondurasRepublic of HondurasYesYes112,090101
JamaicaJamaicaYesYes10,991159
NicaraguaRepublic of NicaraguaYesYes130,37096
PanamaRepublic of PanamaYesYes75,420116
Saint Kitts and NevisFederation of Saint Kitts and NevisYesYes261188
Saint LuciaSaint LuciaYesYes616177
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesYesYes389184
TrinidadRepublic of Trinidad and TobagoYesYes5,128164

List of Countries in North America

Map showing North American region with each country a different color.
Map of North America region. Source: CIA World Factbook, public domain.
CanadaCanadaYesYes9,984,6702
MexicoUnited Mexican StatesYesYes1,964,37513
United States of AmericaUnited States of AmericaYesYes9,833,5173

List of Countries in South America

Map showing South America region with each country a different color.
Map of South America region. Source: CIA World Factbook, public domain
ArgentinaArgentine RepublicYesYes2,780,4008
BoliviaPlurinational State of BoliviaYesYes1,098,58127
BrazilFederative Republic of BrazilYesYes8,515,7705
ChileRepublic of ChileYesYes756,10237
ColombiaRepublic of ColombiaYesYes1,138,91025
EcuadorRepublic of EcuadorYesYes283,56173
GuyanaCo-operative Republic of GuyanaYesYes214,96983
ParaguayRepublic of ParaguayYesYes406,75259
PeruRepublic of PeruYesYes1,285,21619
SurinameRepublic of SurinameYesYes163,82090
UruguayOriental Republic of UruguayYesYes176,21589
VenezuelaBolivarian Republic of VenezuelaYesYes912,05032

Different Organizations Recognize a Different Number of Countries

There are also 206 nations that compete in the Olympics, 211 nations that are able to play in the FIFA World Cup, and a total of 204-207 self-declared nations [3]. 

So, in the end, the answer to the question of how many countries there are in the world remains a question with many different possible answers. 

How Do New Countries Get Formed?

With changes in political situations, such as the dissolution of the USSR, new countries can be formed. While there aren’t any set procedures for the establishment of a new country, there are some general parameters as established by international law.

The  Montevideo Convention of 1933 codified the declarative theory of statehood which established four conditions under which a state could be established as a country under international law. These conditions are: 1) a defined territory; 2) a permanent population; 3) a government and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with other states.

What is the Newest Country in the World?

The youngest country in the world is South Sudan, having obtained its independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011 after a referendum.

This East-Central Africa is located south of Sudan, north of Uganda and Kenya, and west of Ethiopia. A landlocked country, South Sudan has an estimated July 2020 population of 10,561,244. South Sudan’s capital, Juba, is one of the world’s fastest growing cities. Only about 20% of South Sudan’s population lives in urban areas.

Map showing the location of South Sudan.  Map: CIA, public domain.
Map showing the location of South Sudan. Map: CIA, public domain.

What is the Biggest Country in the World?

The country of Russia is the biggest country in the world. The total area of 17,098,242 sq km  with 720,500 sq km of that being water. This makes Russia about 1.8 times the size of the United States.

Map showing the location of Russia.  Map: CIA, public domain.
Map showing the location of Russia. Map: CIA, public domain.

Russia shares a border with 14 countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine.

Is Antarctica a Country?

No, Antarctica is not a country. Antarctica is a continent and no single country has jurisdiction over it.

Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom are the seven sovereign states that have made territorial claims in Antarctica.

Number of Countries by Continent

Listed here are the countries found within each continent.

The only continent that has no countries is Antarctica although several countries claim sovereignty in certain regions.

The continent with the most countries is Africa with 54 recognized countries.

Map of the continent of Africa showing individual countries.
Map of the continent of Africa showing individual countries. Map: Equal Earth, public domain.

The continent with the least amount of countries is South America with 12 countries and three dependent territories.

Map of South America showing the countries.
Map of South America showing the countries. Map: Equal Earth, public domain.

Some countries overlap continents. For example, Turkey and Russia geographically and politically straddling the continents of Asia and Europe, these countries are listed for both continents. Countries that appear across multiple continents are noted with an asterisk.

List of Countries in Africa

The continent of Africa is the second-largest and second-most populous continent in the world. Africa has 54 fully recognized and independent countries.

List of countries in Africa with their capitals:

Algeria – Algiers
Angola – Luanda
Benin – Porto Novo, Cotonou
Botswana – Gaborone
Burkina Faso – Ouagadougou
Burundi – Gitega
Cameroon (also spelled Cameroun) – Yaoundé
Cape Verde – Praia
Central African Republic – Bangui
Chad (Tchad) – N’Djamena
Comoros – Moroni
Republic of the Congo – Brazzaville
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) – Kinshasa
Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) – Yamoussoukro
Djibouti – Djibouti
Egypt (Misr) – Cairo – spans the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge
Equatorial Guinea – Malabo
Eritrea – Asmara
Ethiopia (Abyssinia) – Addis Ababa
Gabon – Libreville
The Gambia – Banjul
Ghana – Accra
Guinea – Conakry
Guinea-Bissau – Bissau
Kenya – Nairobi
Lesotho – Maseru
Liberia – Monrovia
Libya – Tripoli
Madagascar – Antananarivo
Malawi – Lilongwe
Mali – Bamako
Mauritania – Nouakchott
Mauritius – Port Louis
Morocco (Al Maghrib) – Rabat
Mozambique – Maputo
Namibia – Windhoek
Niger – Niamey
Nigeria – Abuja
Rwanda – Kigali
São Tomé and Príncipe – São Tomé
Senegal – Dakar
Seychelles – Victoria, Seychelles
Sierra Leone – Freetown
Somalia – Mogadishu
South Africa – Pretoria
South Sudan – Juba
Sudan – Khartoum
Swaziland (Eswatini) – Mbabane
Tanzania – Dodoma
Togo – Lome
Tunisia – Tunis
Uganda – Kampala
Western Sahara – El Aaiún (disputed)
Zambia – Lusaka
Zimbabwe – Harare

List of Countries in Asia

Asia has 48 countries recognized by the United Nations. There are numerous highly autonomous regions and disputed areas.

The list of countries in Asia and their capitals:

Afghanistan – Kabul
Armenia – Yerevan
* Azerbaijan – Baku ~ Located in the Caucasus, between Europe and Asia
Bahrain – Manama
Bangladesh – Dhaka (ঢাকা)
Bhutan – Thimphu
Brunei – Bandar Seri Begawan
Cambodia (Kampuchea) – Phnom Penh
China – Beijing
East Timor (Timor Leste) – Dili
* Georgia – Tbilisi ~ Located in the Caucasus, between Europe and Asia
India – New Delhi
* Indonesia – Jakarta ~ Lies partly in Oceania
Iran – Tehran
Iraq – Baghdad
Israel – Jerusalem
Japan – Tokyo
Jordan (Al Urdun) – Amman
* Kazakhstan – Nur-Sultan
Kuwait – Kuwait city
Kyrgyzstan – Bishkek
Laos – Vientiane
Lebanon (Lubnan) – Beirut
Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur
Maldives – Malé
Mongolia – Ulaanbaatar
Myanmar (Burma) – Naypyidaw
Nepal – Kathmandu
North Korea – Pyongyang
Oman – Muscat
Pakistan – Islamabad
Philippines – Manila
Qatar – Doha
* Russia – Moscow ~ Russia is a part of Asia geographically, but politically it is a part of Europe
Saudi Arabia – Riyadh
Singapore – Singapore
South Korea – Seoul
Sri Lanka – Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (administrative), Colombo (commercial)
Syria – Damascus
Tajikistan – Dushanbe
Thailand (Muang Thai) – Bangkok
* Turkey – Ankara ~ 3rd largest country in Western Asia and the largest in Southeastern Europe
Turkmenistan – Aşgabat
Taiwan – Taipei
United Arab Emirates – Abu Dhabi
Uzbekistan – Tashkent
Vietnam – Hanoi
Yemen – Sana’a

List of Countries in Europe

Europe has 49 countries and de facto countries.

List of countries in Europe and their capitals:

Albania (Shqipëria) – Tirana
Andorra – Andorra la Vella
Austria (Österreich) – Vienna
Belarus (Беларусь) – Minsk
Belgium (Dutch: België, French: Belgique, German: Belgien) – Brussels
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina) – Sarajevo
Bulgaria (България) – Sofia
Croatia (Hrvatska) – Zagreb
Cyprus (Κύπρος) – Nicosia
Czech Republic (Česko) – Prague
Denmark (Danmark) – Copenhagen
Estonia (Eesti) – Tallinn
Finland (Suomi) – Helsinki
France – Paris
* Georgia – Tbilisi
Germany (Deutschland) – Berlin
Greece (Ελλάδα) – Athens
Hungary (Magyarország) – Budapest
Iceland (Island) – Reykjavik ~ Iceland sits on the European – North American tectonic plates. The Western half sits in North America, while the Eastern half sits on the European tectonic plate.
Republic of Ireland (Éire) – Dublin
Italy (Italia) – Rome
* Kazakhstan – Nur-Sultan
Kosovo – Pristina ~ disputed territory with de facto independence.
Latvia (Latvija) – Riga
Liechtenstein – Vaduz
Lithuania (Lietuva) – Vilnius
Luxembourg – Luxembourg City
North Macedonia (Македонија) – Skopje
Malta – Valletta
Moldova – Chisinau
Monaco – Monte Carlo Quarter
Montenegro (Crna Gora, Црна Гора) – Podgorica
Netherlands (Nederland) – Amsterdam (Capital), The Hague (Government)
Norway (Norge) – Oslo
Poland (Polska) – Warsaw
Portugal – Lisbon
Romania – Bucharest
* Russia – Moscow ~ Europe up to the Ural Mountains; Asia: the rest to Vladivostok)
San Marino – San Marino
Serbia (Србија) – Belgrade
Slovakia (Slovensko) – Bratislava
Slovenia (Slovenija) – Ljubljana
Spain (España) – Madrid
Sweden (Sverige) – Stockholm
Switzerland (German: Schweiz, French: Suisse, Italian: Svizzera, Romansh: Svizra) – Bern
* Turkey – Ankara ~ ~ 3rd largest country in Western Asia and the largest in Southeastern Europe
Ukraine (Україна) – Kyiv or Kiev
United Kingdom – London
Vatican City** (Italian: Città del Vaticano, Latin: Civitas Vaticana) – Vatican City – Vatican City State is a U.N observer state and not a U.N member.

List of Countries in North America

North America has 23 countries and 22 dependent territories.

The list of countries and their capitals are:

Canada
 United States – Washington, D.C.
 Mexico – Mexico City
 Nicaragua – Managua ( Central America)
 Honduras – Tegucigalpa ( Central America)
 Cuba – Havana
 Guatemala –  Guatemala
 Panama – Panama City ( Central America)
 Costa Rica – San José ( Central America)
 Dominican Republic – Santo Domingo
 Haiti – Port-au-Prince
 Belize – Belmopan ( Central America)
 El Salvador – San Salvador ( Central America)
 The Bahamas – Nassau
 Jamaica – Kingston
 Trinidad and Tobago – Port of Spain
 Dominica – Roseau
 Saint Lucia – Castries
 Antigua and Barbuda – St. John’s
 Barbados – Bridgetown
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Kingstown
 Grenada – St. George’s
 Saint Kitts and Nevis

List of Countries in South America

South America has 12 countries. It is the fourth largest continent and fifth most populous. South America also has three dependent territories.

The list of South American countries and their capitals are:

Argentina – Buenos Aires
Bolivia – Sucré
Brazil (Brasil) – Brasília
Chile – Santiago
Colombia – Bogotá
Ecuador – Quito
Guyana – Georgetown
Paraguay – Asunción
Peru – Lima
Suriname – Paramaribo
Uruguay – Montevideo
Venezuela – Caracas

List of Countries in Australia / Oceania

Oceania is the term used to describe Australia and the nations of the Pacific Ocean. There are 14 countries found in this region. In addition, part of Indonesia and the U.S. state of Hawaii are found in Oceania.

The list of countries and their capitals in Oceania is:

Australia – Canberra
Federated States of Micronesia – Palikir
Fiji – Suva
Kiribati – South Tarawa
Marshall Islands – Majuro
Nauru – no capital; biggest city is Yaren
New Zealand – Wellington
Palau – Melekeok
Papua New Guinea – Port Moresby
Samoa – Apia
Solomon Islands – Honiara
Tonga – Nuku’alofa
Tuvalu – Funafuti
Vanuatu – Port Vila

References

[1] Rose, A. K. (2006). Size really doesn’t matter: In search of a national scale effect. Journal of the Japanese and international Economies20(4), 482-507. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jjie.2006.06.008

[2] United Nations. About UN Membership. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/sections/member-states/about-un-membership/index.html

[3] Bender, J. (2014, September 24). Here Are The Self-Declared Nations You Won’t See At The UN. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/the-self-declared-nations-you-wont-see-at-the-un-2014-9

The Beginner’s Guide to Nation-Building

This guidebook is a practical “how-to” manual on nation-building published by the RAND corporation.  From the mongraph description page:

It is organized around the constituent elements that make up any nation-building mission: military, police, rule of law, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, democratization, and development. The chapters describe how each of these components should be organized and employed, how much of each is likely to be needed, and the likely cost. The lessons are drawn principally from 16 U.S.- and UN-led nation-building operations since World War II and from a forthcoming study on European-led missions. In short, this guidebook presents a comprehensive history of best practices in nation-building and serves as an indispensable reference for the preplanning of future interventions and for contingency planning on the ground.

You can either purchase the volume or access it for free in PDF format.  Also available in PDF format is a summary of the monograph.  The mongraph was written by James Dobbins, Seth G. Jones, Keith Crane, and Beth Cole DeGrasse.

Visit: The Beginner’s Guide to Nation-Building

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About the author
Elizabeth Borneman
My name is Elizabeth Borneman and I am a freelance writer, reader, and coffee drinker. I live on a small island in Alaska, which gives me plenty of time to fish, hike, kayak, and be inspired by nature. I enjoy writing about the natural world and find lots of ways to flex my creative muscles on the beach, in the forest, or down at the local coffee shop.