October 26, 2013

How many countries are there in the world?


A consistent definition of "country" is impossible because your checklist needs to include Vatican City (the least country-like country that's still a country) while excluding Hong Kong (the most country-like country that isn't).

1 comment:

Howard said...

Other problems are illustrated by, for example, Kurdistan and the Republic of China. The ROC at least officially considers itself to be the legitimate form of ALL of China, as does the People's Republic, so there is no double counting -- but de facto, they are independent countries now. Kurdistan is (and really always has been) in a situation similar to that of Poland at several points in history: everyone knows where it is, and it is culturally, linguistically, and ethnically distinct, but it does not presently enjoy sovereignty.

There are certain passages in Scripture (and probably from Sacred Tradition, too) that seem to indicate that nations have a real metaphysical existence. If it were not for these hints, I'd be inclined to say that the problem is ill-defined, and that definitions of national distinctions are entirely arbitrary -- like the distinction between a "planet" and a "dwarf planet".