Have you ever wondered how many countries there are in the world?
While it may seem like a fairly straightforward question,
it’s actually quite complicated.
The problem is –
it depends on who you ask as to what answer you get and
there is no one generally accepted answer.
Also, the word ‘country’ has no official meaning.
A good place to start might be an organisation that knows what they’re talking about–
the United Nations.
There are currently 193 members of the UN.
This is why this is the lowest number
you’ll ever hear to how many countries there are.
Along with the 193 members,
the UN also has two permanent non-member observer states —
the Holy See (representing the Vatican City State),and the State of Palestine.
Despite not being a member, the Vatican City is a country
and is recognised by everyone as such.
That based on the fact that
it is a country within a city within a country
and small not only by country or city standards
but more comparable in size to that of a small village with a population of around 800
and a land area of less than half a square kilometre.
It is officially the smallest country in the world and
compared to the largest country, it is 38 million times smaller than Russia.
But size doesn’t matter and
the fact of the matter is the Vatican City is a country.
所以按照这样的逻辑 巴勒斯坦也是个国家 没错吧？
So, logic would dictate that the State of Palestine is also a country then, right?
Well, no. Not yet anyway.
The State of Palestine does want to be a full member of the UN
and submitted an application in November of 2011.
However, the only reason the Holy See isn’t a full member is simply because
it doesn’t want to be.
Possibly because it wants to remain neutral.
It seems unlikely that Palestine will gain full membership for one reason
the United States of America.
If you’re unaware of the situation in the Middle East,
the Palestinians and the Israelis have waging war on and off for decades.
And with Israel being of close ally of the United States,
who often provide financial and military assistance to Israel,
the US has always voted against Palestine.
This is despite president Obama saying he does want a sovereign Palestinian state.
The US didn’t even want Palestine to become an observer state,
but they still won an overwhelming majority.
However, in order to gain full membership,
the decision lies with the UN Security Council.
The Security Council is made of 15 members —
5 permanent members ( also known as The Big Five),
and 10 non-permanent members who serve for 2 years.
To become a full member of the UN,
a country must obtain a two-thirds majority vote.
The Big Five consists of —
中国 俄罗斯 法国 美国和英国
China, Russia, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom,
all of whom has what’s known as’veto power’
in which they can veto any UN resolution and it won’t get passed,
even if all other 14 members are in favour of it.
Therefore, the US can simply veto any membership application made by the State of Palestine.
The UN aside though, there are others reasons
why you might hesitate to call Palestine a country.
First of all, they don’t actually have any legally defined borders
and the lines used to outline their claimed territories of the West Bank and the Gaza strip
are actually lines created in 1949
as part of an armistice agreement to end of the violence of the Arab-Israeli war
and were never intended to be used as international borders.
On top of this, the Israeli army control huge parts of their land,
although this is widely considered by the entire international community
as a breach of international law.
Moving on, the US Department of State list 195 independent countries,
and these are–the 193 members of the UN,
the previously discussed Vatican City,
as well as the Republic of Kosovo.
Kosovo is a partially recognised country in Eastern Europe
that declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.
However, Serbia rejects their independence and
claims that Kosovo is a province of Serbia.
距今为止 193个联合国成员国中 有100个成员国
Currently, 100 out of the 193 UN members recognise Kosovo
as a country according to kosovothanksyou.com,
a website that thanks every country for recognising them in their native language.
Kosovo hasn’t made a application for UN membership.
This is because the UN Security Council, the Big Five is
split on the issue of Kosovo independence.
While the UK, the US and France all recogsnise Kosovo
and have diplomatic relations with them,
Russia and China do not.
If all five were asked’is Kosovo a country? ‘
you would get a variety of different responses
but suffice to say the resolution would not get passed.
Now,according to a website I use quite a lot,
about.com, there are 196 countries.
They list the same 195 as the US Department of State,
plus one more – Taiwan.
The situation with Taiwan is an incredibly complex
one that basically boils down to whether Taiwan is its own country,
or part of China.
While it is officially considered part of China by the UN,
it effectively operates as its own country and
China have no jurisdiction with the Taiwan.
Taiwan’s official name, by the way,
is the Republic of China,
not to be confused with the PEOPLE’S Republic of China,
or as they’re more commonly know, well, China.
To fully understand the situation
we need to go all the way back to 1895
when the Japanese Empire took control of the island of Taiwanfrom the Qing Dynasty.
After the fall of the Dynasty in the early 20th century,
the Republic of China was established in 1912
and the Nationalist Party were elected government.
In 1921, the Communist Party of China was founded
with very different ideological views,
and in 1927 the Chinese Civil War began between the Nationalists and the Communists.
1931年 日本抓住中国内战的机会 侵略中国
Japan took the civil war as an opportunity to invade China in 1931.
And for years the civil war continued until 1937
when Japan began a full-scale invasion of China
and took control of the city of Beijing.
The civil war were temporarily put on hold
so China could defend its land from the Japanese.
In 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor,
causing immediate declaration of war on Japan by the United States
and began their involvement in World War II.
In August 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs
on the Japanese cities of Hiroshimaand Nagasaki.
The Allied Forces issued Japan a surrender ultimatum:
known as the Potsdam Declaration.
The agreement stated, among other things,
that Japan must relinquish control of land that they had acquired via force,
and this included the island of Taiwan
obtained 50 years previously from the Qing Dynasty.
The Allies gave two choices to Japan —
an unconditional surrender,
or face (and I quote)”prompt and utter destruction”.
On 2nd September 1945 Japan signed the agreement
which put an ended to the 2nd World War.
Sovereignty of Taiwan was therefore handed over to the Republic of China.
Later that year, the United Nations was founded
with the Republic of China as one its founding members
and one of the permanent members of the Security Council.
The original Big Five were effectively the same as today,
except with the Republic of China and the Soviet Union
instead of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation respectively.
So, one year later and Chinese Civil War started up again.
But this time around,
the Communist forces completely overwhelmed the Nationalist forces
and in 1949, the Communist Part had total control of the mainland,
forcing the Nationalists to retreat to the island of Taiwan.
This effectively ended the civil war
and lead to the creation of the People’s Republic of China, by the Communist Party.
This then created an incredibly complicated situation
in which there were effectively two Chinas,
but both claiming the exact same land: the whole of China.
The People’s Republic of China controlled the mainland,
while the Republic of China controlled Taiwan,
but both claimed each others land.
Things remained like this for the next two decades
while the Republic of China continued to represent China at the UN.
This was until 1971 when the UN General Assembly voted to
replace the Republic of China with the People’s Republic of China
as China’s sole representative,
despite them never having any jurisdiction on the island in their history.
In 1991, the Republic of China opted for a different approach
and applied for UN membership
under the name’the Republic of Taiwan’.
Taiwan repeatedly re-applied but with China’s veto power, realistically,
it was never going to happen.
The current president of Taiwan, however, does not want independence,
and said in his inaugural address —
“不统一 不独立 不开战”
“no reunification, noindependence, no war”.
However has since said that
he actually DOES want unification with China.
Relations between the Chinese and Taiwanese presidents is good,
they both agree Taiwan should not be an independent country,
they both adhere to the one-China policy,
unfortunately, they still can’t agree on who actually hassovereignty over China.
Still, Taiwan is pretty much like any country –
they have their own passports, their own president,
their own government, their own military,
they even take part in sporting events
such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup,
albeit under the pseudonym Chinese Taipei’,
to keep China happy.
So while very few countries officially recognise Taiwan as a country
or the Republic of China as the legitimate government of China
most countries do recognise Taiwan unofficially
and have Taiwan Embassies within their countries.
But countries tend to avoid officially recognising Taiwan as a country
as it pisses off China.
This is the reason why the US Department of State
list 195 countries and excluded Taiwan,
because the United States really wouldn’t want to piss of China, for uh…
let’s just say political reasons….
So, is everyone clear on the situation with Taiwan then?
没有？ 好吧 没人能真正明白 不过让我们继续
No? Well, no one really is but we need to move on.
To the place where I live: the United Kingdom.
More specifically Scotland but it’s the United Kingdom I want to talk about.
The United Kingdom is generally referred to as a”country ofcountries”
包含：苏格兰 英格兰 威尔士和北爱尔兰
consisting of: Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
So, is the United Kingdom one country or four countries?
Well, first of all, it’s actually a misconception
that there are four countries in the UK.
There’s actually only three.
See, while Scotland and England
both have a history of being independent countries,
and Wales is a little more complicated
as it was previously considered a principality, but as is now a country,
but Northern Ireland is not, nor has it ever been, a country.
Northern Ireland is technically considered a provinceof the United Kingdom.
This newsletter from the International Organisationfor Standardisation
clearly lists Northern Ireland as a province,
as well as the status of Wales being upgraded from principality to a country.
Although it could be argued the principality of Wales ended in 1542
and that Wales has been a country for centuries.
A very brief British history lesson.
In 1707, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England (which included Wales)
joined to create the Kingdom of Great Britain.
In 1801, the Kingdom of Ireland joined to create the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Then, in 1922, after the Irish War of Independence
Ireland succeeded from Britain and formed the Republic of Ireland.
相信与否 就这样 整个爱尔兰岛脱离联合王国
Believe it or not, very briefly, the whole island of Ireland succeeded from Britain,
but Northern Ireland quickly and expectedly re-joined
to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Which is what it’s known as today.
So, Northern Ireland was part of Ireland
and is now part of the UK,
but has never been a country in its own right.
Northern Ireland doesn’t even have its own official flag!
The St. Patrick’s solitaire is sometimes used unofficially
to distinguish Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
And the Ulster Banner is also generally used for sporting events
and what the FIFA use to represent their national football team.
But the one and only one official flag
the Union Jack.
So, the UK is made up of three countries and one province.
And while the three countries are not independent countries or sovereign states,
they are still countries.
The term for a country within a country is a”constituent country”
and is not unique to the United Kingdom.
The Netherlands is constituent country with the Kingdom of the Netherlands,
which contains three other countries: Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maartin.
The Netherlands is in Europe,
while the other three are island countries in the Caribbean
some 5000 miles away.
To further complicate matters,
the Netherlands is made up of 12 provinces in Europe,
as well as three special municipalities —
also in the Caribbean.
These are: Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba,
collectively referred to as the Caribbean Netherlands.
And the term Dutch Caribbean is used to refer to all of the Caribbean islands
within the kingdom of the Netherlands.
All 4 countries within the Kingdom are considered equal,
but in reality,
98 % of both the population and the land area of the within the 12 European provinces.
Another example would be the Kingdom of Denmark,
which holds sovereignty of the two autonomous countries of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
Greenland being the world’s largest island that’s not a continent
and the Faroe Islands are a small archipelago north of Scotland.
But despite Greenland being over 1500 times
the size of the Faroe Islands,
they both have similar populations of around 50,000.
There’s also French Polynesia,
which is an overseas country of the French Republic,
made up of several islands in the South Pacific,
most notable of which is the island of Tahiti.
Then we come to a slightly more complicated situation with New Zealand
and the countries of Niue and the Cook Islands
who are in a agreement known as free association.
There are only three other countries in the world
under free association, and those are:
the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.
All in free association with the United States.
The major difference is that all three of these countries are members of the UN
while Niue and the Cook Islands are not.
Freely associated states can either be thought of as independent or not,
or even… both?
It’s kind of like a Schrodinger’s cat situation
in which the cat can be thought of as both dead and alive simultaneously.
Niue and the Cook Islands can be considered both independent or not simultaneously,
so we can call these two…. Schrodinger’s countries.
And finally, we come to a category of countries (and I use the term loosely),
that have received little or no recognition.
One example would be Somaliland,
part of Somalia that has declared itself an independent country
but thus far received absolutely no recognition whatever ever…from any country
UN member or otherwise.
Of course there are other examples,
all of whom have received at least some recognition,
albeit extremely limited, and in some cases,
not even by any UN members.
External recognition is a key attribute to considered a country
and therefore it would be a bit of a stretch to call any of them
countries at the moment.
So, how many countries are there in the world?
Well, there really are no right or wrong answers.
Well, I mean, there are wrong answers.
例如 五个 就是错误的答案
Five, for example, is a wrong answer.
但因为 “国家” 这个词的含糊不清
But because of the ambiguity of the word’country’,
there isn’t one generally accepted answer.
Hopefully you understand that the point of this video
is that I provided you with the necessary information,
so that you could apply your own judgement to get the answer.
But if you really want some numbers,
some possible answers would be…
Just the members of the UN,
counting the Vatican City since it’s also a country,
counting Kosovo, the most recognised country not in the UN,
counting Taiwan – the unofficial country,
counting the State of Palestine, the UN observer state,
then we could count the unrecognised countries,
the constituent countries, and
Niue and the Cook Islands.
Then things could get a bit out of hand and we could start calling everything a country.
For example: Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and Bermuda.
None of which are countries but given the dictionary definition
it wouldn’t seem too far-fetched to call them countries.
Then we could come up with a near infinite number of answers
depending on how you apply the use of the word’country’.
But it seems that the most widely accepted answer is 196.
But it’s important that you understand the answer of 196
so that if something changes you can adjust the number accordingly,
For example, if Kosovo hypothetically became the 194th member of the UN,
there would still be 196 countries,
but if you used 194 as your answer then you would need to add one.
An important note to end is
that everything in this video is correct at the time it was uploaded
in late June of 2013,
and things may have changed depending on when you’re watching this.
Well, thank you very much for watching my very first YouTube video,
and be sure to subscribe
as I’ve got dozens more ideas for videos
that I can’t wait to start making.
[Special thanks to]