By Matt Rosenberg. Geography Expert
Matt Rosenberg is an award-winning professional geographer who has covered the field of geography on this website for more than fifteen years.
Be sure to connect with Matt on Twitter @mrgeog and on Facebook .
There are 193 members of the United Nations. Unfortunately, the number 193 is too often used to represent the number of countries in the world. Although this number represents almost all of the countries in the world, there are still independent countries such as the Vatican City and Kosovo. that are independent and are not members of the U.N. so 193 is not the number of countries in the world.
The United States' State Department recognizes 195 independent countries around the world.
Their list of 195 countries reflects the political agenda of the United States of America and its allies. Missing from the State Department's list is one entity that may or may not be considered a country, depending
on who you talk to.
Taiwan meets the requirements of independent country or state status. However, due to political reasons, it fails to be recognized by the international community as independent. Nonetheless, it should be considered as independent.
Taiwan was actually a member of the United Nations (and even the Security Council ) until 1971, when mainland China replaced Taiwan in the organization.
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Taiwan continues to press for full recognition by other countries, to become "part of the club" and fully recognized worldwide but China claims that Taiwan is simply a province of China.
Recognize that there are dozens of territories and colonies that are sometimes erroneously called "countries" but don't count at all - they're governed by other countries. Places commonly confused as being countries include Puerto Rico. Bermuda, Greenland, Palestine. Western Sahara. and even the components of the United Kingdom (such as Northern Ireland, Scotland. Wales, and England - they're not fully independent countries. states, or nation-states).