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How many countries in the World ?

Many publications list the countries of the world, but they do not all use the same criteria to include or not a country. A common but vague criterion is recognition of the country by the international community, in particular its recognition by the United Nations which has 193 member states and recognizes four non-member states (two of which have the status of permanent observers).

These four non-member states are the Vatican (permanent observer since 1964), the State of Palestine (permanent observer since 2012), and the Cook Islands and Niue, two island territories in free association with New Zealand.

Six countries are recognized by at least one UN member state without being recognized by the UN: Kosovo, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In addition, the Moldovan Republic of Transnistria and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh recognize each other, and are recognized by South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Ukrainian crisis has given rise to two unrecognized entities, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic. Finally, a de facto independent territory since 1990 is also not recognized by any country, the Republic of Somaliland.

When Taiwan is included in a list, it is often accompanied by a warning that the list is unofficial or that Taiwan is not recognized. Indeed, the status of Taiwan is particular in that the People's Republic of China requires recognition of the principle of one China on the part of countries that want to have diplomatic relations with it.