How Many Countries Are There In The World? Total Number (2023)

by David & Intan

How many countries are there in the world? According to the United Nations member list, there may be as few as 193 countries or as many as 197, but the real answer is a bit more complicated than that.

What about places like Kosovo and Taiwan? Are they countries? Even though they’re unrecognized by the UN and may be politically controversial, they meet all of the criteria to be considered sovereign states.

In this article, I’ll explain some of these issues and why it’s hard to come to an exact tally of the world’s countries. Then I’ll give my opinion on why I think the real total is at least 199 countries.

This topic interests me because I’m on a journey myself to someday visit every country in the world, as you can see on my travel blog. But before I can do that, I first have to figure out how many countries there are! Let’s get started!

What Is A Country? (Definition)

The Oxford dictionary defines a country as “a nation with its own government, occupying a particular territory.” The Britannica dictionary gives a similar definition.

Meanwhile, the Cambridge dictionary defines a country as “an area of land that has its own government, army, etc.”

We’ll come back to these definitions later, because they may be helpful for understanding how to classify disputed countries.
 

How Many Countries In The World? (UN Definition)

So how many countries are there in the world? The best place to start is the United Nations member list. It’s not perfect, but it’s quite comprehensive and includes most of the countries of the world.

When we look at the United Nations list, here is what we see:

  • 193 UN member states
  • 2 UN General Assembly non-member observer states (Palestine, Holy See)
  • 2 eligible non-member states (Cook Islands, Niue)

If you add all of these up, you get a total of 193, 195, or 197 countries. Under the strictest definition (UN membership) there would be 193 countries, or under the loosest definition (all eligible states) there would be 197.

I don’t think it’s fair to exclude a country from the total just because it’s not a UN member, as long as it’s eligible for membership and meets all the criteria for being considered a country, so it’s only logical to say that there are a total of 197 countries.

So there you have it — 197 countries! We’re done, right? Wrong. There’s still the issue of Kosovo and Taiwan, which are unrecognized by the UN. So how do we classify them?

Taiwan Taipei Asia How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

Taiwan isn’t recognized by the UN, but it fits any definition of a sovereign country.


 

Is Taiwan A Country? Yes

In 1949, Communist forces took control of mainland China in a civil war, forcing out the leaders of the Republic of China and its followers, who fled to the island of Formosa (Taiwan).

Since then, Taiwan has been an independently governed country with its own flag, currency, military, constitution, widely accepted passport, and an independently elected president.

Taiwan was one of the original founding members of the United Nations, and it was still recognized as the sole legitimate representative of China by a majority of UN members until the 1970s, when mainland China’s influence began to grow rapidly and Taiwan was voted out of the UN in their favor.

Today, China tries to claim ownership over Taiwan, and it gets touchy when anyone calls Taiwan a country. Basically, the rest of the world wants to preserve their relationship with mainland China, which is now an economic power, so they’re hesitant to recognize Taiwan.

Taiwan is officially recognized by 13 UN member states, and it maintains unofficial relations with around 100 nations, including the United States and Japan. The only reason it’s not officially considered a country by the UN is because of politics.

So in conclusion, yes, Taiwan is a country! It meets and exceeds the criteria in every way.

Taipei Taiwan Asia

We had a lot of fun traveling in Taiwan


 

Is Kosovo A Country? Yes

Kosovo split off from the European country of Serbia in 2008, and it’s acted as an independent country since then. They have their own flag, passport, armed forces, and constitution.

Even though Kosovo has diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state by 101 member states of the United Nations, it hasn’t been allowed membership in the UN and the European Union because Serbia continues to claim Kosovo as its own, with Serbia’s ally Russia backing it up.

Basically, politics is the only reason anyone would deny that Kosovo is a country. Nevertheless, Kosovo is an independent country in every sense of the word, so it’s only logical to include it in the total number.
 

Full List Of Countries In The World

Here is an alphabetical list of all the countries in the world, according to the United Nations. This is the official member list from their website.

Plus, at the end, I’ll list a handful of disputed or miscellaneous countries that also meet the criteria to be included:

  • 1. Afghanistan
  • 2. Albania
  • 3. Algeria
  • 4. Andorra
  • 5. Angola
  • 6. Antigua & Barbuda
  • 7. Argentina
  • 8. Armenia
  • 9. Australia
  • 10. Austria
  • 11. Azerbaijan
  • 12. Bahamas
  • 13. Bahrain
  • 14. Bangladesh
  • 15. Barbados
  • 16. Belarus
  • 17. Belgium
  • 18. Belize
  • 19. Benin
  • 20. Bhutan
Brunei How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

Brunei is a neat little oil-rich country on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia

Cambodia Asia

Cambodia is one of my favorite places I’ve traveled in Southeast Asia

  • 21. Bolivia
  • 22. Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • 23. Botswana
  • 24. Brazil
  • 25. Brunei
  • 26. Bulgaria
  • 27. Burkina Faso
  • 28. Burundi
  • 29. Cabo Verde
  • 30. Cambodia
  • 31. Cameroon
  • 32. Canada
  • 33. Central African Republic
  • 34. Chad
  • 35. Chile
  • 36. China
  • 37. Colombia
  • 38. Comoros
  • 39. Congo
  • 40. Costa Rica
Egypt How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt should be on every traveler’s bucket list!

Nepal How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

The Himalaya range has the tallest mountains in the world. It spans Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

  • 41. Croatia
  • 42. Cuba
  • 43. Cyprus
  • 44. Czech Republic (Czechia)
  • 45. Côte d’Ivoire
  • 46. Denmark
  • 47. Djibouti
  • 48. Dominica
  • 49. Dominican Republic
  • 50. DR Congo
  • 51. Ecuador
  • 52. Egypt
  • 53. El Salvador
  • 54. Equatorial Guinea
  • 55. Eritrea
Gunung Dukono Volcano Drone Maluku Indonesia

I always like to see active volcanoes around the world (as long as I’m not too close to them).

Zakynthos Greece

Last summer in Zakynthos, Greece.

  • 56. Estonia
  • 57. Eswatini
  • 58. Ethiopia
  • 59. Fiji
  • 60. Finland
  • 61. France
  • 62. Gabon
  • 63. Gambia
  • 64. Georgia
  • 65. Germany
  • 66. Ghana
  • 67. Greece
  • 68. Grenada
  • 69. Guatemala
  • 70. Guinea
  • 71. Guinea-Bissau
  • 72. Guyana
Indonesia How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

Indonesia is my wife’s home, and my second home.

Iceland

Iceland was one of my first big international trips

  • 73. Haiti
  • 74. Honduras
  • 75. Hungary
  • 76. Iceland
  • 77. India
  • 78. Indonesia
  • 79. Iran
  • 80. Iraq
  • 81. Ireland
  • 82. Israel
  • 83. Italy
  • 84. Jamaica
  • 85. Japan
  • 86. Jordan
  • 87. Kazakhstan
  • 88. Kenya
  • 89. Kiribati
  • 90. Kuwait
  • 91. Kyrgyzstan
  • 92. Laos
Japan Asia How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

Japan is clean, safe, modern, and fun. Definitely one of our favorite countries!

Laos Asia How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

Laos is a communist country between Thailand and Vietnam in Asia.

  • 93. Latvia
  • 94. Lebanon
  • 95. Lesotho
  • 96. Liberia
  • 97. Libya
  • 98. Liechtenstein
  • 99. Lithuania
  • 100. Luxembourg
  • 101. Madagascar
  • 102. Malawi
  • 103. Malaysia
  • 104. Maldives
  • 105. Mali
  • 106. Malta
  • 107. Marshall Islands
  • 108. Mauritania
  • 109. Mauritius
  • 110. Mexico
Mexico South America How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

The ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza in Mexico

Bagan Myanmar How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

Myanmar is one of the most underrated countries we’ve visited. A true gem!

  • 111. Micronesia
  • 112. Moldova
  • 113. Monaco
  • 114. Mongolia
  • 115. Montenegro
  • 116. Morocco
  • 117. Mozambique
  • 118. Myanmar (Burma)
  • 119. Namibia
  • 120. Nauru
  • 121. Nepal
  • 122. Netherlands
  • 123. New Zealand
  • 124. Nicaragua
  • 125. Niger
  • 126. Nigeria
  • 127. North Korea
  • 128. North Macedonia
  • 129. Norway
  • 130. Oman
New Zealand

Helicopter ride in New Zealand! My wife’s first time seeing snow.

  • 131. Pakistan
  • 132. Palau
  • 133. Panama
  • 134. Papua New Guinea
  • 135. Paraguay
  • 136. Peru
  • 137. Philippines
  • 138. Poland
  • 139. Portugal
  • 140. Qatar
  • 141. Romania
  • 142. Russia
  • 143. Rwanda
  • 144. Saint Kitts & Nevis
  • 145. Saint Lucia
  • 146. Samoa
  • 147. San Marino
  • 148. Sao Tome & Principe
  • 149. Saudi Arabia
  • 150. Senegal
  • 151. Serbia
  • 152. Seychelles
  • 153. Sierra Leone
Machu Picchu Peru How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

Peru is known for the magnificent lost city of Machu Picchu

Singapore Airport Changi

There are lots of things to do in Singapore Airport and it’s often ranked as the world’s best!

  • 154. Singapore
  • 155. Slovakia
  • 156. Slovenia
  • 157. Solomon Islands
  • 158. Somalia
  • 159. South Africa
  • 160. South Korea
  • 161. South Sudan
  • 162. Spain
  • 163. Sri Lanka
  • 164. St. Vincent & Grenadines
  • 165. Sudan
  • 166. Suriname
  • 167. Sweden
  • 168. Switzerland
  • 169. Syria
  • 170. Tajikistan
  • 171. Tanzania
  • 172. Thailand
Thailand How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

Thailand is another country full of amazing scenery

Bali Snake King Cobra

Meeting a giant king cobra in Bali, Indonesia

Abu Dhabi Dubai UAE United Arab Emirates How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

The United Arab Emirates is a country known for high end hotels, restaurants, and shopping.

  • 194. Holy See¹
  • 195. Palestine¹
  • 196. Cook Islands²
  • 197. Niue²
  • 198. Kosovo³
  • 199. Taiwan³

¹ UN non-member observer states
² UN eligible non-member states
³ Unrecognized by UN

 

So How Many Countries Are There In The World?

As you can see, it’s hard to say exactly how many countries there are in the world.

The short answer is that there are 193 member countries in the United Nations, plus 2 non-member observer states, 2 eligible non-member states, and 2 independent states that are unrecognized by the UN.

In conclusion, with this logic I think it’s fair to say that there are at least 199 countries in the world. My inner OCD wants it to be an even 200, but at the moment that’s not the case!
 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

• What Is The World’s Newest Country?

The newest (or youngest) country in the world is currently South Sudan in Africa, which split from Sudan in 2011. It has almost 13 million people, and its capital and largest city is Juba.

Before that, the world’s newest UN-recognized country was Montenegro in Europe, which separated from Serbia in 2006.
 

• What Is The World’s Oldest Country?

It’s hard to pinpoint the world’s oldest country, but some contenders are China, Egypt, India, Iran, and Japan.

Egypt Africa How Many Countries Are There In The World Total Number 193 195 197

The Egypt pyramids were built in 2560 BC. Now that’s old!


 

• What Is The World’s Biggest Country?

The world’s biggest country is Russia by far, with a total area of 17,098,242 square kilometers (6,601,665 mi²). Russia spans 11 time zones across two continents (Asia and Europe) and covers one-tenth of all the land on Earth.

The second and third biggest countries in the world are Canada and the United States, respectively. The UK could fit into Canada more than 40 times! There’s a lot of wonderful nature in both of these countries, with diverse landscapes and lots of freedom to roam.

Read More: Largest Countries In The World

USA United States America

The United States is the 3rd biggest country in the world.


 

• What Is The World’s Smallest Country?

The world’s smallest country in area and population is the Holy See — the Vatican City has a population of 800 people and an area of 44 hectares (109 acres).

If you go by UN membership strictly, the world’s smallest country in terms of area is Monaco, which covers 202 hectares (499 acres). It has a population of about 40,000 people, making it the most densely populated country in the world.

Another interesting country is Nauru, which is a remote little island of 21 square kilometers (8 mi²). It’s the world’s least populous country among UN membership states, and the 2nd smallest UN country by area.
 

• What Is The Most Populous Country?

China is currently the world’s most populous country, with 1.44 billion people. However, India is expected to surpass this number soon, putting it ahead of China.
 

• What Is My Favorite Country?

A lot of people ask me about my favorite places to travel. I love to travel in Bali and the rest of Indonesia, of course! Bali is budget friendly, warm, and there’s so much to see and do. I also love the people of Bali and that’s why I married one of them. 🙂

Outside of Indonesia, it gets tougher for me to choose favorites. We’ve really enjoyed places like Japan, Egypt, Myanmar, Hawaii, etc. There are very few places we’ve traveled that we didn’t like in some way or another, even in spite of their flaws.

Bali Indonesia Dress Costumes

My wife Intan and I wearing Balinese traditional dress in Indonesia


 

My Journey To Visit Every Country

Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this discussion of how many countries are there in the world in 2022.

Don’t forget to bookmark my travel blog for tips, info, and photos from my own journey to visit every country on Earth.

Happy travels!
 

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2 comments

Morten Hansen January 9, 2023 - 6:16 pm

Thanks for the site.
There is another country, I think is worth mentioning. Ít is West Sahara. Morocco claims to have is a part of the country, but very few countries in the world have recognized this soverighty. So, as Palestine, where the people have been fighting for a nation for half a century, West Sahara deserves to be on the list. In quite a few maps you will actually see the borderline drawn.

Reply
David January 21, 2023 - 2:57 am

Thanks for your comment! You’re right, Western Sahara is a peculiar case. On world maps it’s common to see the borders drawn for Western Sahara, and I have a globe at home with that border drawn. Western Sahara is also recognized by 45 UN member states (at one time it was 84 UN member states but many of those have since withdrawn recognition).

I’m still not sure if it would qualify as an independent country though, since Western Sahara is mostly governed by Morocco. Even the biggest city Laayoune is administered by Morocco. The SADR group has their own currency and a passport accepted by countries that recognize SADR, but they mainly use Moroccan currency.

The UN officially classifies Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory because it’s mainly administered by the Moroccan government. Normal definitions of a country mean one that is independently governed, so Western Sahara seems like it would fail that test. It’s hard to say, but in any case, I’ll add a note about it to the article! Thanks

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