Organizing the Countries of the World by Continent

With the addition of South Sudan as the 195th sovereign nation in 2011, the world witnessed another chapter in its ever-expanding story.

Each country contains its own narrative, whether it's the vast expanses of Russia — where the landscape shifts from icy tundra to dense forests — or the compact confines of Vatican City, where history echoes through its ancient walls.

Let's explore the different countries of the world and the continents they belong to.

How Many Countries Are There?

Currently, the United Nations recognizes 195 countries globally. This count includes 193 member states and two non-member observer states: the Holy See (Vatican City) and Palestine.

However, the concept of "country" can vary based on political recognition and sovereignty disputes. Some regions, like Taiwan, are considered by some to be independent nations but lack widespread international recognition.

Additionally, there are dependencies and territories with varying degrees of autonomy under the control of other countries. The exact count can fluctuate due to geopolitical changes, secession movements or diplomatic recognition shifts.

At its core, a country is a distinct geopolitical entity characterized by a defined territory, a permanent population, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states.

Independent Countries vs. Dependent Territories

An independent territory, often referred to as a sovereign state or country, has full control over its internal and external affairs. It typically has its own government, legal system and international recognition. Examples include the United States, France and Japan.

Dependent territories, on the other hand, are regions that are governed by another country, known as the administering power. While dependent territories may have varying degrees of autonomy, they ultimately do not possess full sovereignty. The administering power typically oversees aspects such as defense, foreign affairs and some aspects of governance.

Examples of dependent territories include Puerto Rico (administered by the United States), Greenland (administered by Denmark) and French Guiana (administered by France). They often have complex relationships with their administering powers, ranging from close integration to movements for greater independence or sovereignty.

Africa: 54 Countries

Africa is the second-largest and second-most-populous continent, with an array of cultures, languages and landscapes. Historically, Africa is the cradle of humankind, with archaeological sites like Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania providing evidence of early human life.

The cultural heritage of African countries is equally vibrant, with over 2,000 languages spoken and countless traditions, music and art forms that vary from region to region.

The massive continent also offers immense diversity, from the vast Sahara Desert in the north to the lush rainforests located in the Congo Basin and the savannas of the Serengeti. This diversity can be found throughout the continent's 54 countries.

  1. Algeria

  2. Angola

  3. Benin

  4. Botswana

  5. Burkina Faso

  6. Burundi

  7. Cabo Verde

  8. Cameroon

  9. Central African Republic

  10. Chad

  11. Comoros

  12. Congo (formerly People's Republic of the Congo)

  13. Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

  14. Democratic Republic of the Congo

  15. Djibouti

  16. Egypt

  17. Equatorial Guinea

  18. Eritrea

  19. Eswatini

  20. Ethiopia

  21. Gabon

  22. Gambia

  23. Ghana

  24. Guinea

  25. Guinea Bissau

  26. Kenya

  27. Lesotho

  28. Liberia

  29. Libya

  30. Madagascar

  31. Malawi

  32. Mali

  33. Mauritania

  34. Mauritius

  35. Morocco

  36. Mozambique

  37. Namibia

  38. Niger

  39. Nigeria

  40. Rwanda

  41. São Tomé and Príncipe

  42. Senegal

  43. Seychelles

  44. Sierra Leone

  45. Somalia

  46. South Africa

  47. South Sudan

  48. Sudan

  49. Togo

  50. Tunisia

  51. Uganda

  52. United Republic of Tanzania

  53. Zambia

  54. Zimbabwe

Asia: 43 Countries

Asia is the largest and most populous continent, stretching from the deserts of the Middle East to the bustling cities of East Asia. This continent boasts some of the world's oldest civilizations, including China, India and Mesopotamia, which contributed immensely to global history, philosophy and science.

The sprawling continent is also a land of contrasts, which can be seen in the futuristic skyscrapers of Tokyo and Dubai and the serene Kyoto and Angkor Wat temples. And don't forget the icy steppes of Siberia and the tropical beaches of Thailand!

Asia is made up of 43 countries, each offering its unique contributions to the global community, from technological innovations to ancient traditions.

  1. Afghanistan

  2. Bahrain

  3. Bangladesh

  4. Bhutan

  5. Brunei Darussalam

  6. Cambodia

  7. China

  8. Cyprus

  9. Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)

  10. India

  11. Indonesia

  12. Iraq

  13. Islamic Republic of Iran

  14. Israel

  15. Japan

  16. Jordan

  17. Kazakhstan

  18. Kuwait

  19. Kyrgyzstan

  20. Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos)

  21. Lebanon

  22. Malaysia

  23. Maldives

  24. Mongolia

  25. Myanmar (formerly Burma)

  26. Nepal

  27. Oman

  28. Pakistan

  29. Philippines

  30. Qatar

  31. Republic of Korea (South Korea)

  32. Saudi Arabia

  33. Singapore

  34. Sri Lanka

  35. Syrian Arab Republic

  36. Tajikistan

  37. Thailand

  38. Timor-Leste

  39. Turkmenistan

  40. United Arab Emirates

  41. Uzbekistan

  42. Viet Nam

  43. Yemen

Palestine is a non-member observer state.

Europe: 47 Countries

From the romantic streets of Paris to the historical ruins of Rome, Europe has been the birthplace of countless historical movements, such as the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, which shaped the modern world as we know it.

Europe's cultural diversity is equally impressive, with over 200 languages spoken and many culinary delights ranging from Italian pasta to German sausages to French wine and everything in between.

Its landscape ranges from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean, featuring a variety of climates and natural beauty. With 47 countries packed into a relatively small area, Europe is like a treasure chest that keeps on giving.

  1. Albania

  2. Andorra

  3. Armenia

  4. Austria

  5. Azerbaijan

  6. Belarus

  7. Belgium

  8. Bosnia and Herzegovina

  9. Bulgaria

  10. Croatia

  11. Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic)

  12. Denmark

  13. Estonia

  14. Finland

  15. France

  16. Georgia

  17. Germany

  18. Greece

  19. Hungary

  20. Iceland

  21. Ireland

  22. Italy

  23. Kingdom of the Netherlands

  24. Latvia

  25. Liechtenstein

  26. Lithuania

  27. Luxembourg

  28. Malta

  29. Monaco

  30. Montenegro

  31. North Macedonia

  32. Norway

  33. Poland

  34. Portugal

  35. Republic of Moldova

  36. Romania

  37. Russian Federation

  38. San Marino

  39. Serbia

  40. Slovakia

  41. Slovenia

  42. Spain

  43. Sweden

  44. Switzerland

  45. Türkiye (formerly Turkey)*

  46. Ukraine

  47. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Note that Kosovo only has limited recognition in the UN, and Vatican City is considered an observer state.

*According to the UN website, "Türkiye participates fully in both the Group of Western European and other States and the Group of Asia-Pacific States, but for electoral purposes is considered a member of the Group of Western European and other States only."

North America: 23 Countries

North America is a land of extremes, from the icy tundras of Canada to the sunny beaches of the Caribbean. The countries in North America are also famous for their natural wonders, such as the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountains, offering endless opportunities for adventure and exploration.

In Canada, you can experience the beauty of the Northern Lights, while in the United States, you can explore diverse national parks ranging from Yellowstone to the Everglades. Central America and the Caribbean are known for their stunning biodiversity, rainforests and coral reefs.

This continent includes 23 countries, each offering unique landscapes and cultures. Home to some of the largest cities in the world — for example, Mexico City — North America is a hub of cultural and economic activity.

  1. Antigua and Barbuda

  2. Bahamas

  3. Barbados

  4. Belize

  5. Canada

  6. Costa Rica

  7. Cuba

  8. Dominica

  9. Dominican Republic

  10. El Salvador

  11. Grenada

  12. Guatemala

  13. Haiti

  14. Honduras

  15. Jamaica

  16. Mexico

  17. Nicaragua

  18. Panama

  19. Saint Kitts and Nevis

  20. Saint Lucia

  21. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

  22. Trinidad and Tobago

  23. United States of America

South America: 12 Countries

South America is home to some of the world's most iconic natural wonders, such as the Andes mountains, the Amazon River and the Iguazu Falls.

Brazil, the largest country in South America, is famous for its Carnival festival, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and its beautiful beaches. Peru is home to Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, while Colombia offers colorful colonial towns and vibrant cities like Bogotá and Medellín.

With 12 countries, it’s a place where you can dance the tango in Argentina, explore ancient Incan ruins and wander the Amazon rainforest.

  1. Argentina

  2. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

  3. Brazil

  4. Chile

  5. Colombia

  6. Ecuador

  7. Guyana

  8. Paraguay

  9. Plurinational State of Bolivia

  10. Peru

  11. Suriname

  12. Uruguay

Oceania: 14 Countries

This continent is famous for its many islands, unique wildlife and friendly locals. Whether you’re snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef or the volcanic landscapes of Vanuatu, Oceania offers adventures that are as diverse as its geography.

One of Oceania's most well-known countries, Australia, is known for its iconic landmarks, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Outback. Alternatively, the Pacific Islands — including Fiji, Samoa and Tonga — are home to pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral reefs.

From the lush rainforests of Australia to the beaches of the Cook Islands, you can find stunning landscapes throughout Oceania's 14 vibrant countries.

  1. Australia

  2. Federated States of Micronesia

  3. Fiji

  4. Kiribati

  5. Marshall Islands

  6. Nauru

  7. New Zealand

  8. Palau

  9. Papua New Guinea

  10. Samoa

  11. Solomon Islands

  12. Tonga

  13. Tuvalu

  14. Vanuatu

We created this article in conjunction with AI technology, then made sure it was fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

Original article: Organizing the Countries of the World by Continent

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