How Many Countries?
A South Sudanese man celebrates his country's independence. Source: AP Photo/Jason Patinkin.
There are 196 countries in the world today.
Unless you don't count Taiwan…
Taiwan is not considered an official country by many, which would bring the count down to 195 countries. Although Taiwan operates as an independent country, many countries (including the U.S.) do not officially recognize it as one. Because the People's Republic of China considers Taiwan a breakaway province of China, countries who wish to maintain diplomatic relations with China have had to sever their formal relations with Taiwan (more than 100 countries, however, have unofficial relations with Taiwan).
How many countries belong to the United Nations?
193 countries are UN members. The exceptions are Taiwan (in 1971, the UN ousted Taiwan and replaced it with the People's Republic of China) and Vatican City. Kosovo is not yet a member. The newest UN members are Switzerland (2002), Montenegro (2006), and South Sudan.
What are the world's newest countries?
The world's newest country is South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. Before that, the newest country was Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Montenegro became a country in June 2006, after splitting off from Serbia. Since 1990, 29 new nations have come into being. Many of these emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union (14 countries) and the breakup of the former Yugoslavia (7 countries). See our Guide to New Nations.
Are there still any countries that have colonies?
There are 61 colonies or territories in the world. Eight countries maintain them: Australia (6), Denmark (2), Netherlands (2), France (16), New Zealand (3), Norway (3), the United Kingdom (15), and the United States (14). See Territories, Colonies, and Dependencies for a list of the world's colonies and what countries administrate them, p. 663.
Are there still territories in the world that are claimed by more than one country?
There are six major disputed territories in the world: the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, Western Sahara, and Antarctica (about a dozen nations have laid claims to portions of it). In addition, there are innumerable other territorial disputes throughout the world, many of which had resulted in ongoing armed conflicts.