How many countries are there in the world?

The United States recognizes 193 independent countries, and all but one are members of the United Nations. Vatican City (Holy See) is the loner that chose not to join the U.N. Yep. Vatican City isn't really a city but a country. And you might be surprised to discover that other places you think are countries really aren't. For example,
  • England is a somewhat autonomous region of the United Kingdom.
  • Greenland is a self-governing part of Denmark.
  • Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.
  • Taiwan is a quasi independent state or a province of China, depending on whose political opinion you choose to accept.

Other non-countries include Bermuda, Guam, and Antarctica (that's right — this is a whole continent but not a country!). So what makes a country a "country"? There are eight commonly accepted criteria for becoming a country, including a transportation system, an organized economy, and internationally recognized boundaries.