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This tool should help journalists improve their readiness to write about the roughly 195 counted independent sovereign nations and 60 dependent areas, disputed territories, etc.
The 195 number doesn’t include Taiwan. If we include Taiwan, it’s 196. Taiwan has de facto independence, but China considers Taiwan to be a province.
Hong Kong and Macau are Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of China. The Faroe Islands and Greenland are self-governing overseas administrative divisions of Denmark. French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, New Caledonia and a dozen other islands are overseas lands, departments and territories of France. Gibraltar, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands are overseas territories of the UK. The British Virgin Islands are self-governing, though. The Falklands are also claimed by Argentina. The American Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam are unincorporated territories of the US. Antarctica, the Spratly Islands, the West Bank, Western Sahara, and the Paracel Islands are claimed by various countries and make the news often on this basis.
The world’s youngest country is South Sudan, which became independent of the rest of Sudan in 2013.
The world is 510m square kms, of which 150m square kms is land. (We’ll use kms here because only the U.S., the UK, Myanmar and Liberia use miles.)
To understand the sizes of countries in square kms, think of Germany. You can look at it on a map to compare it in size to its neighbors here. Germany is a country of 350,000 sq km. It’s roughly the same size as Norway, Japan, the DRC, Vietnam, and Poland. However it’s less than half the size of Venezuela, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Germany is twice as large as Cambodia or Greece.
The largest country, Russia, has 16m square kms of land and 700,000 square kms of water. The next biggest country is Canada, but China and the US are of similar land size with over 9m square kms, although Canada has around 3x as much water as China or the U.S., albeit much of it in cold northern regions, a situation it shares with Russia. Brazil and Australia are only slightly smaller.
Although not a country, the continent of Antarctica is midway between Russia and Canada in land size (because it’s not a nation it doesn’t claim water off its shores).
If, while playing this game, you have some suggestions or find it’s missing something, leave us a comment.