When counting or collecting countries it is up to each and every one by themselves to decide how they want to do it or what kind of list they want to use. I have chosen to count countries & territories. Therefore my total number (if I ever get the chance to visit them all) would be +233.
According to UN our world consists of 206 member states, divided into 193 sovereign states (those which are neither dependent on or subjected to any other power), 2 observer states (being Holy See/The Vatican and Palestine, which entitles the entity to participate in the work of UN) and 11 “other” states (recognized by the United Nations as not being self-governing).
The so-called other states include; Abkhazia, Artsakh, Cook Islands, Kosovo, Niue, Northern Cyprus, Sahrawi, Somaliland, South Ossetia, Taiwan, and Transnistria.
Then there are also further lists. Here are the main 6 I have been able to find.
The topic of how many countries there actually are in the world seems to be hard to grip. An example of a never-ending question is if you should count the UK as one or as four. The United Kingdom comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They are however a unitary sovereign state. But I do count them as one each and you should do whatever feels right for you. But if you state that you have visited x amount out of 195 countries, then you cannot count in Scotland or England, rather the U.K, for example.
The same thing goes with other depended territories such as some Polynesian or Caribbean islands. Like the ABC islands, that I visited in Aug/Sep 2018. These countries are ruled by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and do not either count into the list of 195 countries.
It is not uncommon that countries are mixed up with flags, a lot of us automatically assume that a flag equals a country. But is it really that easy? Whenever this topic comes up for discussion, I often hear people say “It is a country, because they have a flag”. But there are plenty of places, islands, destinations etc. that have their own flag. Take Åland for example, an island between Sweden and Finland. Or Sweden’s largest island, Gotland. Or what about the most southern province of Sweden, Skåne (or Scania in English)? All of these and many other places, including the U.S states have their own flags.
I brought this up since I think this topic and kind of discussion is really interesting. But once again, everyone should count the way they feel like.
And we should all remember (including myself) that traveling is not about the number of places you visit. It is about the things you see, do and get to experience while traveling. I do count them because I think it is fun, even though I have and will continue to visit several destinations over and over again.
Please do not compare your travels with others, everyone’s experiences are unique. So get out in the world and explore as much or little as you have the possibility and willingness to do!