Explore the World and Discover…How Many Countries has it Been Now?

People travel the world every day, and make a lifetime career of this wonderful hobby. Many never know how many countries they have been to. Some don’t even care. However it seems that if one is going to take the time and effort to see the world over the course  of years, it would at least be an interesting factoid (if nothing more) to know how many countries they have traversed. Because of the way countries are defined and the separate lists that exist for this, in many cases it can be more than expected.

It used to be very simple or so it seems. A country used to be considered a separate contrary if they had their own flag, currency, and army. Only funny things started to happen like World War Two, after which Japan ceased to have an army for many years, and Germany was divided in two. So much for armies, which the Vatican never had anyway, and nobody ever countered the Swiss Army as theirs. Then the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the formation of the European Union. And then there are all these islands that were once part of England or some other country. What is a traveler to do?

Enter the List of Countries of the World, which is comprised of the 193 member nations of the United Nations as well as UN recognized territories. That is surely good place to start. But what if a territory was never part of the UN but still is a country or separate territory by any other standard? Many island nations fall into this category. This is where the Traveler Century Club List of Countries comes in, and recognizes geographic disparities such as say the Canary Islands, which is Spanish, but has its own municipality, or the Channel Islands, which has Jersey and Guernsey listed as separate countries form England form  each other.  In addition to the 193 member countries of the United Nations, they add all the territories with the exception of occupied and contested territories.  So for instance, the occupied part of Ukraine that is Crimea and is now occupied by Russia is not on the list. And interestingly enough, because of their definition that a geographic difference will qualify for the land mass to be listed as a “country,” Hawaii and Alaska are listed separately from the United States.

The TCC list is very helpful for travelers however, since an awareness that a land mass or an island grouping has a district difference from the country normally associated with it, can make for an enlightening travel experience. Guernsey is a perfect example. They speak their own version of French there, have separate currency, and at times have a very different culture from the rest of the UK.  They are completely autonomous and are not part of the EU.  They have their own municipality as well-known as a Bailiwick. So a visitor Guernsey or the Canary Islands, because of the geographical disparity between England and Spain respectively, is not the same as a visit to England and Spain at all. This awareness is what makes this list is extremely helpful while traveling

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