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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.
Despite being 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.
So... logic would dictate that the State of Palestine is also a country then, right?
Well... no. Not yet anyway.
The State of Palestine wants to be a full member of the UN and submitted an application is November of 2011.
However, the only reason the Holy See isn't a full 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 want Palestine to even 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 - 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 veto any membership application made by the State of Palestine.
The UN aside, 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 internal 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.
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 an application for UN membership. This is because the UN Security Council 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 on 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 Taiwan from 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.
Japan took the civil war as an opportunity to invade China in 1931.
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 Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Allied Forces then issued Japan a surrender ultimatum: 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 September 2nd 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. 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,
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 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, including Taiwan,
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 - "no reunification, no independence, no war". However has since said
that actually he 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 has sovereignty 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 all of China, most countries do recognise Taiwan unofficially
and have Taiwan Embassies in their country. 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... everyone clear on the situation with Taiwan? No? Well, no-one really is but let's
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 of countries" 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 is now a country, Northern Ireland is not, nor has it ever been, a country.
Northern Ireland is technically considered a province of the United Kingdom.
This newsletter from the International Organisation for Standardisation clearly lists Northern Ireland as a province,
as well as the status of Wales being upgraded from principality to 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.
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 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.
The Ulster Banner is also used for sporting events and is the flag that FIFA use
to represent their national football team. But the one and only flag that is used officially
is... 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 UK.
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 they 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 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 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 answers. Well, I mean, there are wrong answers...
five... for example, is a wrong answer. 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, or not.
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 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. Thanks again!


世界上有幾個國家?台灣算是嗎? (How many countries are there in the world?)

4836 分類 收藏
Yi-Ci Huang 發佈於 2016 年 10 月 16 日    Yi-Ci Huang 翻譯    Steven 審核
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