Facts for kids: How many countries are there in the world?

South Sudan

South Sudan is the newest country.

When it comes to knowing how many countries there are in the world, the question is a loaded die. Some countries don’t formally recognise the existence of other countries. Some dependent territories ambitiously regard themselves as countries, and some countries are politely ignored so as to not upset the neighbours.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and Russia doesn’t recognise Kosovo. Argentina claims the Islas Malvinas even though almost nobody on the Falkland Islands wants to live under Argentine rule. It’s all very awkward, especially at social gatherings.

So, to put it simply, the number of countries in the world depends on who you want to believe. Seeing as they have an enormous stockpile of weapons, a habit of picking fights overseas, and are likely recording all my data, it’s in our best interests to get behind the USA’s count of how many countries there are.

The United States Department of State recognises 195 independent states. An independent state is defined as a people politically organized into a sovereign state with a definite territory recognized as independent by the USA. A notable omission to the list of states is Taiwan, which is recognised as being part of China (because China has a lot of power and throws a mighty tantrum whenever anybody asks Taiwan out to dinner). Still, Taiwan is often regarded as an unofficial 196th country when China isn’t listening.

The USA also recognises 66 dependencies and areas of special sovereignty, many of which are a relic of the colonial era when people could just steal what they wanted because they had all the guns and ammunition. In this list you’ll find islands, tax havens, and uninhabitable territory.

Short answer: The USA officially recognises 195 countries. Don’t make the mistake of referring to the 193 members of the United Nations as an answer because independent countries such as the Vatican City and Kosovo are not members.