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How Many Countries Are In The World In 2024


Overview of the importance of knowing the number of countries

Understanding the number of countries in the world is crucial for several reasons, spanning from geopolitical awareness to economic and cultural significance. As of 2024, there are 195 countries recognized by the United Nations, including 193 member states and two observer states, the Holy See and Palestine. This count can have far-reaching implications for various aspects of global interaction and individual countries’ strategies.

First and foremost, knowing the number of countries is fundamental for international relations and diplomacy. Governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations rely on accurate and current information about the global state structure to formulate foreign policies, allocate resources, and engage in diplomatic negotiations. The United Nations, for instance, uses this information to determine membership and voting rights, which in turn affect international law and global governance. Additionally, having an up-to-date count of countries is essential for maintaining accurate global maps and records, which are indispensable for navigation, trade, and defense planning.

Economically, the number of countries impacts global markets and trade agreements. Each country represents a potential market for goods and services, and understanding the exact number allows businesses to better strategize their international operations. For instance, multinational companies need to know the number of sovereign states to navigate various regulatory environments, establish subsidiaries, and optimize supply chains. Trade agreements, tariffs, and economic sanctions are all influenced by the number of countries, as each agreement or restriction applies to specific nations.

Culturally, knowing the number of countries is important for fostering global awareness and education. It helps individuals appreciate the diversity of the world’s populations, languages, traditions, and histories. Educational curricula often include geography and social studies components that rely on accurate information about the world’s countries to teach students about global citizenship. Moreover, travelers, researchers, and cultural enthusiasts benefit from this knowledge, enabling them to explore and understand different regions more thoroughly.


Definition of a Country

What constitutes a country?

A country, in the context of international law and geopolitics, is defined by several key characteristics:

  1. Defined Territory: A country must have clearly defined and internationally recognized borders. These boundaries outline the geographic area over which the country has sovereignty.
  2. Permanent Population: A country must have people who reside there continuously. The population can vary greatly in size, but the presence of inhabitants is essential.
  3. Government: A country must have a functioning government that exercises control over its territory and population. This government must be capable of entering into relations with other states and conducting internal and external affairs.
  4. Sovereignty: Sovereignty is the authority of a state to govern itself without external interference. This means the country operates independently and makes its laws and policies.
  5. Recognition by Other States: While not always universally required, recognition by other countries, especially major powers and international organizations, is crucial for full participation in the international community. Recognition helps ensure diplomatic and economic relations, security alliances, and participation in international organizations.

These criteria are generally derived from the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (1933), which outlines the fundamental aspects of statehood in international law. However, political realities can sometimes blur these criteria, leading to disputes over the recognition of certain entities as countries.

How Many Countries Are There In The World

Criteria for recognition by international bodies (e.g., United Nations)

Recognition by international bodies, such as the United Nations, involves several criteria and processes that a state must typically meet and undergo. Here are the key criteria and steps for recognition by the United Nations:

  1. Declaration of Statehood: The entity must declare itself a sovereign state and demonstrate the fundamental attributes of statehood, including a defined territory, a permanent population, a functioning government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.
  2. Application for Membership: The aspiring state must submit an application to the United Nations Secretary-General. This application should include a formal declaration accepting the obligations of the UN Charter.
  3. Security Council Recommendation: The UN Security Council must review the application. To proceed, the application requires the approval of at least nine of the fifteen Security Council members, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). If any permanent member exercises its veto power, the application is blocked.
  4. General Assembly Approval: If the Security Council recommends the application, it is then presented to the UN General Assembly. Membership approval requires a two-thirds majority vote from the General Assembly’s members present and voting.
  5. Compliance with International Law: The aspiring state must generally demonstrate a commitment to the principles outlined in the UN Charter, including human rights, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and adherence to international law.
  6. Diplomatic Relations: While not a formal criterion, having established diplomatic relations with a significant number of UN member states can bolster an entity’s application. This recognition from existing member states can indicate a broad acceptance of the entity as a sovereign state.

These criteria and steps ensure that new members adhere to the principles and values upheld by the United Nations, contributing to international peace, security, and cooperation.

Current Number of Countries in 2024

Updated list of recognized countries

Any new countries recognized or changes in status since the last count

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As of 2024, there are 195 countries recognized globally. This count includes 193 member states of the United Nations and two observer states, the Holy See (Vatican City) and Palestine​ (World Population Review)​​ (World Population Review)​.

Since the last update, there have been no new countries officially recognized by the United Nations. The most recent additions to the UN member list are South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and Montenegro, which declared its independence from Serbia and Montenegro in 2006​ (World Population Review)​​ (Global Data and Statistics | Data Pandas)​. These nations highlight the dynamic nature of global geopolitics, where new countries can emerge due to a variety of factors including the dissolution of larger political entities, decolonization, and peaceful secession.

The recognition of new countries often involves complex political and legal processes. To be recognized as a sovereign state, an entity typically must meet the criteria outlined by the Montevideo Convention, which includes having a defined territory, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Additionally, gaining widespread diplomatic recognition and UN membership is crucial for full international acceptance​ (Global Data and Statistics | Data Pandas)​.

In summary, the number of countries in the world stands at 195 in 2024, with no new additions since the last recorded changes in the early 2010s. This stable count reflects the current geopolitical landscape and the rigorous criteria required for the establishment of new nations​ (World Population Review)​​ (Global Data and Statistics | Data Pandas)​​ (World Population Review)​.

Recognized by Whom?

Recognition of a country can vary depending on who is acknowledging the state’s sovereignty. Generally, recognition can come from:

  1. The United Nations: The most formal and widely accepted recognition. UN membership signifies broad international acceptance and the ability to participate in global diplomacy.
  2. Individual Countries: Bilateral recognition where one country recognizes another as a sovereign state. This can be independent of UN recognition and varies among nations.
  3. International Organizations: Entities like the European Union, African Union, or ASEAN can also provide recognition, often reflecting a regional consensus.

Differences Between United Nations Member States and Observer States

United Nations Member States:

  • Full Participation: Member states have the right to participate fully in UN activities, including voting in the General Assembly and being eligible for election to various UN bodies.
  • Recognition and Sovereignty: Membership implies recognition by a majority of the world’s nations, conferring a high level of legitimacy and sovereignty.

Observer States:

  • Limited Participation: Observer states can participate in General Assembly debates and activities but do not have voting rights. They can engage in discussions and attend meetings.
  • Recognition: While not full members, observer status indicates a degree of international recognition. Observer states typically aim for eventual full membership.

Examples of observer states are the Holy See (Vatican City) and Palestine. The Holy See has a unique non-member observer state status, while Palestine’s status has been more contentious and is linked to broader geopolitical issues​ (World Population Review)​​ (Global Data and Statistics | Data Pandas)​​ (World Population Review)​.

Non-UN Recognized Countries and Territories

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These are entities that claim independence and function as de facto independent states but lack widespread international recognition or UN membership. Some notable examples include:

  1. Taiwan (Republic of China):
    • Status: Taiwan operates as a separate country with its own government and economy. However, due to the One-China policy, it is not recognized by the UN.
    • Recognition: Recognized by a few countries and maintains unofficial relations with many others through economic and cultural offices.
  2. Kosovo:
    • Status: Declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It is recognized by over 100 UN member states but not by the UN due to opposition from some members, including Russia and Serbia.
    • Recognition: Partial recognition; not a UN member.
  3. Western Sahara (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic):
    • Status: Claims independence but is occupied and claimed by Morocco. It has limited recognition and is not a UN member.
    • Recognition: Recognized by some countries and is a member of the African Union.
  4. Northern Cyprus:
    • Status: Declared independence in 1983 but is only recognized by Turkey. It is considered part of Cyprus by the international community.
    • Recognition: Solely recognized by Turkey, not by the UN or any other country.
  5. Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia:
    • Status: These regions have declared independence from Moldova and Georgia, respectively. They function with their own governments but lack broad recognition.
    • Recognition: Limited to a few other non-recognized states and Russia in some cases.

These examples illustrate the complexities and nuances of international recognition and the varying degrees of legitimacy different entities hold on the world stage​ (Global Data and Statistics | Data Pandas)​​ (Worldometer)​​ (World Population Review)​.

Contested Territories and Partially Recognized States

Explanation of territories with limited recognition (e.g., Palestine, Kosovo, Taiwan)

Impact on international relations and recognition

Contested territories and partially recognized states are geopolitical entities that claim independence and sovereignty but are not universally recognized as independent countries. Their status can significantly impact international relations and diplomatic recognition. Here are explanations and implications for some prominent examples:


Status: Palestine is a partially recognized state claiming the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It declared independence in 1988 and is recognized by over 130 UN member states. UN Status: It holds a non-member observer state status in the UN, granted in 2012​ (Worldometer)​. Impact on International Relations:

  • Diplomatic Tensions: Palestine’s status is a major point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recognition by some countries and lack thereof by others, particularly the US and many Western nations, reflects and exacerbates global political divisions.
  • Peace Process: Recognition impacts negotiations and peace efforts, with some countries viewing recognition as a step toward a two-state solution, while others see it as premature without a peace agreement​ (Global Data and Statistics | Data Pandas)​​ (Worldometer)​.


Status: Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It is recognized by over 100 countries but not by Serbia, Russia, China, and several other nations. UN Status: Kosovo is not a UN member due to the opposition from countries with veto power in the Security Council, such as Russia and China. Impact on International Relations:

  • Regional Stability: Kosovo’s independence is a source of tension in the Balkans. It affects Serbia’s EU accession talks and relations between Western countries, which generally recognize Kosovo, and Russia and China, which support Serbia.
  • International Organizations: Kosovo’s partial recognition limits its participation in international organizations and forums, impacting its ability to engage in global diplomacy and trade fully​ (Global Data and Statistics | Data Pandas)​​ (Worldometer)​.

Taiwan (Republic of China)

Status: Taiwan operates as a separate state with its own government and economy but is claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the One-China policy. UN Status: Taiwan lost its UN seat to the PRC in 1971 and is not recognized as a sovereign state by the UN. Impact on International Relations:

  • Cross-Strait Relations: Taiwan’s status is a critical issue in China-Taiwan relations, with significant implications for regional security and US-China relations. The US maintains a policy of strategic ambiguity, recognizing the PRC while supporting Taiwan’s self-defense.
  • Global Diplomacy: Taiwan’s limited recognition restricts its diplomatic reach. However, it maintains unofficial relations with many countries through economic and cultural offices, reflecting its significant economic and technological influence​ (Global Data and Statistics | Data Pandas)​​ (World Population Review)​.

Impact on International Relations and Recognition

The status of these territories affects global diplomacy in several ways:

  1. Bilateral Relations: Countries’ recognition of or opposition to these entities can strain or strengthen bilateral relations. For instance, US support for Taiwan complicates its relations with China.
  2. Multilateral Organizations: Limited recognition hinders these entities’ ability to join international organizations, affecting their global influence and ability to participate in international decision-making.
  3. Regional Stability: These contested statuses often lead to regional instability and conflicts, as seen in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the tensions in the Balkans over Kosovo.
  4. Global Politics: The recognition or non-recognition of these entities often reflects broader geopolitical alignments, such as Western countries versus Russia and China in the case of Kosovo and Taiwan.

The Role of International Organizations

United Nations and its role in country recognition

Other organizations (e.g., African Union, European Union) and their criteria for membership

International organizations play a crucial role in global diplomacy, governance, and cooperation. Here’s a breakdown of the role of the United Nations (UN) in country recognition, as well as the criteria for membership in other significant organizations like the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU).

United Nations (UN) and Country Recognition:

  1. Membership: The UN serves as a platform for member states to interact and cooperate on international issues. Membership in the UN is a significant indicator of a country’s recognition as a sovereign state in the international community. To become a member of the UN, a state must submit an application to the Secretary-General and gain approval from the General Assembly, where a two-thirds majority vote is required.
  2. Recognition of States: The UN does not possess the authority to officially recognize states. However, through its membership, the UN indirectly acknowledges the sovereignty of its member states. The recognition of a new state is usually a matter of international consensus among member states, often influenced by political, historical, and diplomatic factors.
  3. Diplomatic Recognition: While the UN itself does not formally recognize states, member states often grant diplomatic recognition to new entities based on various factors, including effective control over territory, government legitimacy, and the willingness of other states to engage in diplomatic relations.

Other International Organizations and Criteria for Membership:

  1. African Union (AU):
    • Geographical Criteria: To be eligible for membership in the AU, a state must be located on the African continent.
    • Political Criteria: The state must demonstrate a commitment to the principles of the AU, including democracy, human rights, and good governance.
    • Recognition by Peers: Membership in the AU often requires recognition by existing member states and adherence to AU treaties and protocols.
  2. European Union (EU):
    • Geographical Criteria: EU membership is typically limited to European countries, although there are exceptions such as Cyprus.
    • Political and Economic Criteria: The state must meet certain political and economic criteria, known as the Copenhagen criteria, including stable institutions, functioning market economies, and the ability to adopt EU laws and regulations.
    • Willingness to Integrate: Prospective members must demonstrate a commitment to European integration and adhere to EU principles and values, such as democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.

Historical Perspective

How the number of countries has changed over the decades

Major geopolitical events affecting the number of countries (e.g., decolonization, dissolution of the Soviet Union)

The number of countries has fluctuated over the decades due to various geopolitical events, including decolonization, wars, treaties, and the dissolution of empires. Here’s a historical perspective on how the number of countries has changed and the major geopolitical events that influenced these changes:

  1. Decolonization (20th century):
    • Post-World War II Era: The mid-20th century saw a wave of decolonization as European colonial powers gradually relinquished control over their overseas territories. This led to the emergence of numerous new sovereign states, particularly in Africa and Asia. Examples include India, Pakistan, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria, and many others.
    • End of Empires: Decolonization led to the dissolution of colonial empires such as the British Empire, French Empire, Portuguese Empire, and Dutch Empire. This significantly increased the number of independent nations on the global stage.
  2. Dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991):
    • The dissolution of the Soviet Union marked one of the most significant geopolitical events of the late 20th century. It resulted in the emergence of 15 independent states, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and others. These newly independent states altered the geopolitical landscape of Eurasia and increased the number of countries globally.
  3. Breakup of Yugoslavia (1990s):
    • The breakup of Yugoslavia during the early 1990s resulted in the emergence of several new countries in the Balkans region. Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and later Montenegro and Serbia (after the dissolution of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro) became independent nations. This fragmentation increased the number of countries in southeastern Europe.
  4. Formation of New States (Post-Cold War Era):
    • Following the end of the Cold War, there were instances of secession and the emergence of new states, albeit on a smaller scale. Examples include East Timor (Timor-Leste) gaining independence from Indonesia in 2002 and South Sudan seceding from Sudan in 2011. These events added to the number of sovereign states in the international community.
  5. Unifications and Mergers:
    • Conversely, there have been instances of countries merging or unifying, which reduced the overall number of countries. For example, the unification of East and West Germany in 1990 resulted in the formation of a single German state.

Overall, the number of countries has fluctuated over the decades due to various geopolitical events such as decolonization, the dissolution of empires, and the breakup of multinational states. These events have shaped the modern political map and continue to influence global politics and diplomacy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Country Recognition:

What defines a country’s recognition in the international community?

A country’s recognition is typically based on factors like effective control over territory, a functioning government, and diplomatic relations with other states.

Does recognition by the United Nations (UN) automatically make a country legitimate?

No, UN recognition doesn’t automatically legitimize a country. Recognition is a complex process involving political, historical, and diplomatic factors.

How many countries are officially recognized in the world?

There is no universally agreed-upon number, but there are around 195 to 197 sovereign states recognized by the UN and various other entities.

Can regions or territories within countries be recognized as independent states?

Yes, but it’s complex. Recognition often depends on factors like international support, control over territory, and adherence to international norms.

What is a de facto vs. a de jure state?

A de facto state controls territory and operates as an independent entity, while a de jure state is recognized as sovereign by the international community.

How do unrecognized countries participate in international affairs?

Unrecognized countries often engage in diplomatic efforts, seek bilateral agreements, and may have informal relations with other states and international organizations.

Can unrecognized countries join international organizations?

Some international organizations may allow unrecognized countries to participate as observers, but full membership typically requires international recognition.

What role do historical factors play in country recognition?

Historical events, such as colonization, decolonization, and the breakup of empires, have shaped the recognition of countries and borders.

Are there criteria for recognizing a new country?

There are no set criteria, but factors like stable governance, control over territory, respect for human rights, and support from other states can influence recognition.

Can countries lose recognition?

Recognition can change due to political upheavals, annexations, or mergers, but it’s rare for a recognized country to lose its status entirely.

What is the difference between a country, a nation, and a state?

A country is a geopolitical entity, a nation refers to a group of people sharing a common identity, and a state is a political entity with defined borders and government.

Who decides if a new country should be recognized?

Recognition is typically a matter of international consensus among existing states, although influential powers may have significant influence.

Why are some countries not recognized by others?

Reasons vary, including territorial disputes, political considerations, and objections based on historical or ideological grounds.

Can unrecognized countries issue passports and currency?

Some unrecognized entities issue their own passports and currency, but they may not be widely accepted internationally.

Is country recognition a legal or political issue?

It’s both. While there are legal principles guiding recognition, political considerations often play a significant role in the process.

Quick Facts and Interesting Trivia:

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  • The Principality of Sealand, a micronation located on an offshore platform in the North Sea, claims sovereignty but is unrecognized by any UN member state.
  • The Holy See (Vatican City) is a recognized sovereign entity despite its small size and lack of typical attributes of statehood.
  • The Republic of China (Taiwan) is only recognized by a few countries due to the One-China policy, despite functioning as an independent state.
  • Some countries, like Kosovo and Palestine, have partial recognition, with recognition from some states but not others.
  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes more countries than the UN, allowing territories and dependencies to compete as separate entities.
  • The process of country recognition can be influenced by geopolitical alliances, economic interests, and cultural ties among nations.

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