The United Nations, as the most influential international organization, is often considered the starting point for correctly counting the total number. All 193 members of the UN are independent countries recognized throughout the world.
Becoming part of the United Nations is not so easy. In the first place, the Security Council is voting and the consent of the 5 permanent members of the Council (United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China) is needed for the adoption of the new candidate. After that, the UN General Assembly approves this decision by no less than two thirds of the votes. Such a complicated procedure guarantees that all accepted UN members have been recognized by the vast majority of other states and have established diplomatic relations with them.
Two observers from the UN, the Holy See (the Vatican) and Palestine are both countries, because the observer status of the UN confirms a certain degree of international recognition. The Holy See maintains bilateral relations with the majority of the world through its 180 diplomatic missions in independent states and international organizations. Palestine today is recognized by 137 countries.
All other self-proclaimed entities are considered as “partially recognized countries”. Some of them do not control their own territory, such as Western Sahara, or they are recognized only by 1-5 UN members and by partially recognized subjects like them. For example, the independence of northern Cyprus is confirmed only by Türkiye (Turkey); the Republic of Abkhazia has obtained the acceptance of 4 members of the UN; Nagorno-Karabakh Republic status is only accepted by three partially recognized states. The list can continue, but there are two exceptions:
- Taiwan is recognized by 22 countries (21 members of the UN and one observer of the UN). This self-governed territory with a population of more than 23 million people has all the signs of being a state and plays an important role in the region as one of the most developed economies in Asia Pacific. Participate in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Taiwan has its diplomatic missions (official and unofficial) in more than 100 states and maintains unofficial bilateral relations with the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Germany, France, Russia, India, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil. , Argentina, Mexico, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Nigeria and others.
- Kosovo is officially recognized by 111 states of the UN and by Taiwan. It has also obtained the membership of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Such a broad recognition of these two entities could be a basis for including Taiwan and Kosovo in the list of independent states. At the same time, China claims that Taiwan is part of its internal territory, and Serbia does the same by insisting that Kosovo is its autonomous province.
Today there is no consensus on the total number of countries, because there is still no universally accepted definition of “country” and there is no single competent international body that can correctly answer the question: “How many are there in the world? “
All of the above is our own response, which is based on the actual practice of official and unofficial international relations that exist today in the world.