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Ironically, only 29.31% of the area of ​​planet Earth is not covered by water. This corresponds to 149.67 million km2 divided into 5 continents: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Throughout the history of humanity, which has several disputes over territory, the regions of the world have been divided into countries. The amount depends mainly on the political situation of each of them.

2019 United NationsUntil the First World War, 57 countries were counted in total. With the end of colonialism in Africa and Asia during the 20th century, plus the end of the Turkish-Ottoman empire in the Middle East, this number grew. With the demise of the Soviet Union during the 1990s, the number increased even more.

It is difficult to determine an absolute number, since the main institutions linked to international affairs determine different amounts, according to their own activities and powers. However, the most accepted count as an official is that of the UN.


For the United Nations, there are 193 countries. It assumes that a territory is considered a country if:

a) It has well-defined geographical limits;

b) Has a resident population;

c) It has its own currency and economic autonomy;

d) Exercise national sovereignty.

Thus, not all independent governments are counted and, by the United Nations, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all count as one country, the United Kingdom.

In this way, some countries end up being left out of the list of member countries. However, some of them are considered “permanent observers” in the UN register, a situation that gives them the right to vote at conferences. They are: Vatican, Taiwan, Kosovo and the State of Palestine.

The UN also leaves out possessions and territories, such as Greenland, Aruba and the Cayman Islands, which respectively belong to Denmark, the Netherlands and England.

Under the United Nations system, each continent has the following number of countries:

Africa: 54

Europe: 50

Asia: 48

America: 35

Oceania: 14

From above, we can see that the continent of Oceania has least number of countries. Among them, Australia and New Zealand are the two biggest based on land area and population size according to Countryaah.

Sports institutions

Although the UN is the institution most widely recognized as official to define these data, other organizations also assume their own count according to their purposes. This is the case of the International Football Federation (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

FIFA accounts for 211 countries, while the IOC has a total of 202 member countries in its organization.

The main difference is that FIFA regards the territories of the United Kingdom as different countries. Thus, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales each have their own football team. In the case of the Olympics, the United Kingdom participates together.

But there are other similar situations, Hong Kong and Macau are part of FIFA, but not the IOC, while Monaco and Palau can compete in the Olympics, but cannot have football teams.

Commerce and Postal Code

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has 164 members. However, as not all countries deal directly with international trade, this institution has no relationship with all countries.

On the other hand, for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) the number of countries reaches 246. ISO is responsible for approving international standards for different technical areas.

One of these standards is called ISO 3166, which determines the codes for each country and their subdivisions. Through these codes it is possible to send a letter to anywhere in the world, which the international post office will know to identify the location. Even if countries change their names, these codes remain the same.

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