Controversy

What is a country? There is no single definition. Some countries are universally recognised, some are recognised by only a few other nations. Some countries are occupied, some places are not officially countries at all, merely territories. Some places have an unclear status.

The primary factors we use to determine what are countries and what are not are:

You can deny a place such as Abkhazia is a country all you like but you will still be stopped at the border. Other places such as Aruba are officially titled countries but remain within a larger Kingdom, in Aruba's case The Kingdom of The Netherlands. In that case, Aruba is not considered an integral part of the Netherlands, but is a part of the Kingdom.

This site has divided states into countries and other places. Other places are not actual countries but have varying statuses.

We list 215 countries and 42 other places which are neither countries nor within other countries. Most are territories or places of similar status.

So, let's go through the more controversial places, in alphabetical order.

Abkhazia - country

Abkhazia achieved de facto independence from Georgia in a 1992-1993 war. Since then it has been recognised by only 5 other countries – Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Vanuatu. Georgia considers it to be Russian-occupied territory. Abkhazia is listed on this site as a country.

Akrotiri and Dhekelia – other place

Akrotiri and Dhekelia is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

American Samoa – other place

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States.

Anguilla – other place

Anguilla is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

Antarctica – other place

Antarctica is listed as a single entity under other places on this site. Various countries have claims on the territory, including The United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, Norway, Australia, Chile and Argentina. These claims are not universally recognised and some of them overlap, while some of the continent remains unclaimed by any nation. Nor are there any effective borders in Antarctica. There have been no new claims on Antarctica since 1959, and the situation of political limbo is not likely to change soon.

Aruba - country

Aruba is a country within the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

Ashmore and Cartier Islands – other place

Ashmore and Cartier Islands is a territory of Australia.

Australia – country

Australia has 6 territories – Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Norfolk Island and Australian Antarctic Territory. All but the last are recognised by this site, due to its claims being of very limited recognition.

Balaeric Islands – not listed

The Balaeric Islands are regarded by Spain as an integral part of its territory.

Bermuda – other place

Bermuda is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

Bouvet Island – other place

Bouvet Island is a dependent territory of Norway.

British Antarctic Territory - not listed

This territory has very limited recognition, so, like other claims on Antarctica, is not listed on this site.

British Indian Ocean Territory – other place

British Indian Ocean Territory is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

British Virgin Islands – other place

British Virgin Islands is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

Canary Islands – not listed

Canary Islands is regarded by Spain as an integral part of its territory.

Cayman Islands – other place

Cayman Islands is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

Ceuta – not listed

Ceuta is regarded by Spain as an integral part of its territory.

Christmas Island – other place

Christmas Island is a territory of Australia.

Clipperton Island – other place

Clipperton Island is an overseas possession of France.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands – other place

Cocos (Keeling) Islands is a territory of Australia.

Cook Islands – country

Cook islands is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand.

Coral Sea Islands – other place

Coral Sea Islands is a territory of Australia.

Curacao – country

Curacao is a country within the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

Denmark – country

Denmark, along with Greenland and the Faroe Islands, comprises the Kingdom of Denmark. The Kingdom of Denmark is not listed as a country, but the three counties/territory that constitute it are.

Easter Island – not listed

Although Easter Island, along with the Juan Fernandez Islands, has the status of special territory of Chile, it is considered part of the Valparaiso region, and therefore is regarded as an integral part of Chile.

England - country

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all listed as countries but the United Kingdom is not, as you cannot be in the United Kingdom without being in one of the 4 constituent countries.

Falkland Islands – other place

The Falkland Islands is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

Faroe Islands – country

The Faroe Islands are officially a self-governing dependency of the Kingdom of Denmark. They have many hallmarks of a country.

France - country

France has 5 overseas departments which are regarded as an integral part of the country's territory – hence they are treated by this site as part of France and so are neither separate countries or other places. These 5 are French Guiana, Guadaloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion.

In addition, France has 5 overseas collectivities: French Polynesia, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon and Wallis and Futuna.

French Polynesia has the official designation of overseas country, so is treated as a country by this site. The other 4 are regarded as other places, neither being countries in their own right nor integral parts of France.

France also has one sui generis collectivity – New Caledonia which is regarded as another place.

France has one overseas territory – French Southern and Antarctic Lands which is regarded as another place. It includes several islands which are widely recognised as French claims and also part of Antarctica, which are not.

France also has one overseas possession under the direct authority of the minister of Overseas France, Clipperton Island. It is uninhabited and regarded as an other place.

French Guiana – not listed

French Guiana is an integral part of France.

French Polynesia – country

French Polynesia has the official title of overseas country of France.

French Southern and Antarctic Lands – other place

French Southern and Antarctic Lands is an overseas collectivity of France.

Gibraltar – other place

Gibraltar is is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

Greenland – country

Greenland is a country within the Kingdom of Denmark.

Guadaloupe – not listed

Guadeloupe is an integral part of France.

Guam – other place

Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States.

Guernsey – other place

Guernsey is a Crown Dependency of The United Kingdom.

Heard Island and McDonald Islands – other place

Heard Island and McDonald Island are a territory of Australia.

Hong Kong – other place

Officially termed a Special Administrative Region of China, it remains a very different place, with separate immigration laws, so it is regarded as another place by this site.

Isle of Man – other place

Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency of The United Kingdom.

Jan Mayen – not listed

Jan Mayen, like Svalbard, is considered to be an integral part of the Kingdom of Norway.

Jersey – other place

Jersey is a Crown Dependency of The United Kingdom.

Jervis Bay – not listed

Jervis Bay, bordering New South Wales, is an enclave of the Australian Capital Territory which is part of Australia.

Kosovo – country

Although not universally recognised, Kosovo has de facto independence.

Macau – other place

Officially termed a Special Admistrative Region of China, its different laws and immigration laws mean this site regards it as an other place.

Martinique – not listed

Martinique is an integral part of France.

Mayotte – not listed

Mayotte is an integral part of France.

Melilla – not listed

Melilla is regarded by Spain as an integral part of its territory.

Montserrat – other place

Montserrat is an overseas territory of The United Kingdom.

Nagorno-Karabakh – country

Although unrecognised, Nagorno-Karabakh has had de facto independence since 1994.

New Caledonia – other place

New Caledonia is a sui generis or special collectivity of France, and so is regarded as an other place by this site.

New Zealand – country

New Zealand has two territories – the Ross Dependency in Antarctica, not listed by this site as it has very limited international recognition, and Tokelau, which is listed as an other place. The Cook Islands and Niue are in free association with New Zealand.

Niue – country

Niue is a country in free association with New Zealand.

Norfolk Island – other place

Although it has achieved a degree of self-governance, Norfolk island is an external territory of Australia.

Northern Cyprus – country

Although recognised only by Turkey, Northern Cyprus has been de facto independent since it declared independence in 1983.

Northern Mariana Islands – other place

Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth in political union with the United States.

Netherlands – country

The Netherlands is part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, along with three other officially designated countries – Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten.

The Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are all part of country of the Netherlands, and so are not listed as other places.

Northern Ireland – country

Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland are all listed as countries but the United Kingdom is not, as you cannot be in the United Kingdom without being in one of the 4 constituent countries.

Norway – country

The Kingdom of Norway includes the islands of Jan Mayen and Svalbard, which are regarded as an integral part of Norway. It has three dependencies – Bouvet Island, Peter I Island and Queen Maud Land. The latter two are below 60 degrees south and so are subject to the Antarctic Treaty and have very limited international recognition. Hence, they are not listed on this site as other places, but Bouvet Island is, not falling within the realms of the Treaty.

Palestine – country

Palestine declared independence in 1988 and though it has limited recognition and limited control of its territory, it is regarded by this site as a country.

Paracel Islands – not listed

These islands are disputed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, but cannot be considered to be a country themselves.

Peter I Island – not listed

Peter I Island is a dependent territory of Norway. However, being below 60 degrees south and so subject to the Antarctic Treaty, it has very limited international recognition.

Pitcairn Islands – other place

Pitcairn Islands is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.

Puerto Rico – other place

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States.

Queen Maud Land – not listed

Queen Maud Land is a dependent territory of Norway. However, being below 60 degrees south and subject to the Antarctic Treaty means it has very limited international recognition.

Reunion – not listed

Reunion is an integral part of France.

Saint Barthélemy – other place

Saint Barthélemy is an overseas collectivity of France.

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha – other place

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha is an overseas possession of The United Kingdom.

Saint Martin – other place

Saint Martin is an overseas collectivity of France.

Saint Pierre and Miquelon – other place

Saint Pierre and Miquelon is an overseas collectivity of France.

Sint Maarten – country

Sint Maarten is a country within the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

Scotland – country

Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are all listed as countries but the United Kingdom is not, as you cannot be in the United Kingdom without being in one of the 4 constituent countries.

Somaliland – country

Though unrecognised, Somaliland gained de facto independence in 1991.

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands – other place

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is an overseas possession of The United Kingdom.

South Ossetia – country

South Ossetia gained de facto independence form Georgia in 2008.

Spain – country

Although both are overseas and bordering Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla are regarded as integral parts of Spain. Spain also claims several islands off the coast of Morocco to be parts of their territory. The Canary Islands and Balearic Islands are also regarded as parts of Spain.

Spratly Islands – not listed

These islands are disputed by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei.

Svalbard – not listed

Svalbard is considered to be an integral part of the Kingdom of Norway.

Tibet – not listed

As Tibet has no official status as a country, is not self-governing and has no effective border controls of its own, it is not considered by this site to be a country or other place.

Tokelau – other place

Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand.

Transnistria – country

Though mostly unrecognised, Transnistria gained de facto independence in 1992.

Turks and Caicos Islands – other place

Turks and Caicos Islands is an overseas possession of The United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom is not listed as a country on this site, but its constituent countries are.

No part of the United Kingdom is not within one of its constituent countries.

These are:

The United Kingdom also has 3 Crown dependencies, which are not part of the United Kingdom but fall under its jurisdiction. The 3 Crown Dependencies are all listed on this site as other places:

There are also 14 overseas territories under the United Kingdom's jurisdiction. Again, they are not a part of the United Kingdom. 13 of the 14 overseas territories are all listed on this site as other places:

The British Antarctic Territory, like other nations claims on Antarctica, is not listed as a separate place on this site due to its limited recognition and lack of border controls.

United States Minor Outlying Islands – other place

United States Minor Outlying Islands are 9 uninhabited islands in the Caribbean and Pacific administered by the United States.

US Virgin Islands – other place

The US Virgin Islands is an insular area of The United States – hence it is not a country.

Wake Island– other place

Wake Island is part of the US Minor Outlying Islands, administered by the United States.

Wales – country

Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all listed as countries but the United Kingdom is not, as you cannot be in the United Kingdom without being in one of the 4 constituent countries.

Wallis and Futuna - other place

Wallis and Futuna is an overseas collectivity of France

Western Sahara – country

Although Morocco controls most of the territory of the country, the government of Western Sahara has diplomatic relations with several dozen states.