The following is a list providing an overview of sovereign states
around the world, with information on their status and recognition of their sovereignty
The 206 listed states can be divided into three categories based on membership within the United Nations System
: 193 member states
2 observer states
and 11 other states. The sovereignty dispute
column indicates states having undisputed sovereignty (188 states), states having disputed sovereignty (16 states, of which there are 6 member states, 1 observer state and 9 other states), and states having a special status
Compiling a list such as this can be a difficult and controversial process, as there is no definition that is binding on all the members of the community of nations concerning the criteria for statehood
. For more information on the criteria used to determine the contents of this list, please see the criteria for inclusion
section below. The list is intended to include entities that have been recognised as having de facto
status as sovereign states, and inclusion should not be seen as an endorsement of any specific claim to statehood in legal terms.
List of states
Criteria for inclusion
The dominant customary international law
standard of statehood is the declarative theory of statehood
, which was codified by the Montevideo Convention
of 1933. The Convention defines the state as a person
of international law if it "possess[es] the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) a capacity to enter into relations with the other states"
so long as it was not "obtained by force whether this consists in the employment of arms, in threatening diplomatic representations, or in any other effective coercive measure"
Debate exists on the degree to which recognition
should be included as a criterion of statehood. The declarative theory of statehood argues that statehood is purely objective and recognition of a state by other states is irrelevant. On the other end of the spectrum, the constitutive theory of statehood
defines a state as a person under international law only if it is recognised as sovereign
by other states. For the purposes of this list, included are all states that either:
- consider themselves sovereign (through a declaration of independence or some other means) and are often regarded as satisfying the declarative theory of statehood, or
- are recognised as a sovereign state by at least one UN member state
Note that in some cases, there is a divergence of opinion over the interpretation of the first point, and whether an entity satisfies it is disputed. Unique political entities which fail to meet the classification of a sovereign state are considered proto-states
On the basis of the above criteria, this list includes the following 206 entities:[ah]
- 203 states recognised by at least one UN member state
- Two states that satisfy the declarative theory of statehood and are recognised only by non-UN member states: Artsakh, Transnistria
- One state that satisfies the declarative theory of statehood and is not recognised by any other state: Somaliland
The table includes bullets representing entities which are either not sovereign states or have a close association to another sovereign state. It also includes subnational areas where the sovereignty of the titular state is limited by an international agreement. Taken together, these include:
- States in a free association relationship to another state
- Two entities controlled by Pakistan which are neither sovereign states, dependent territories, or part of another state: Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan
- Dependent territories of another state, as well as areas that exhibit many characteristics of dependent territories according to the dependent territory page
- Subnational entities created by international agreements
- ^ This column indicates whether or not a state is a member of the United Nations. It also indicates which non-member states participate in the United Nations System through membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency or one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations. All United Nations members belong to at least one specialized agency and are parties to the statute of the International Court of Justice.
- ^ This column indicates whether or not a state is the subject of a major sovereignty dispute. Only states whose entire sovereignty is disputed by another state are listed.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa abThe member states of the European Union have transferred part of their sovereignty in the form of legislative, executive, and judicial powers to the institutions of the EU, which is an example of supranational union. The EU has 27 member states.
- ^ Information is included on:
- The extent to which a state's sovereignty is recognised internationally. More information can be found at List of states with limited recognition,
- Membership in the European Union,[c] where applicable,
- Any dependencies, if applicable, which are generally not part of the territory of the sovereign state,
- federal structure of the state, where applicable. More information can be found at Federated state,
- Any autonomous areas inside the territory of the sovereign state,
- Any situations where one person is the Head of State of more than one state,
- Any governments in exile recognised by at least one state.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Commonwealth realm refers to any member state of the Commonwealth of Nations whose head of state is (currently) Queen Elizabeth II. Each realm is separate, independent, and a sovereign state; see Relationship of the realms.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x For more information on divisions with a high degree of autonomy, see List of autonomous areas by country.
- ^ The Argentine Constitution (Art. 35) recognises the following denominations for Argentina: "United Provinces of the Río de la Plata", "Argentine Republic" and "Argentine Confederation"; furthermore, it establishes the usage of "Argentine Nation" for purposes of legislation.
- ^ Argentina's claimed Antarctic territory of Argentine Antarctica (Antártida Argentina) is one of five constituent departments of the province Tierra del Fuego.
- ^ The legal name for Canada is the sole word; an officially sanctioned, though disused, name is Dominion of Canada (which includes its legal title); see: Name of Canada, Dominion.
- ^ The government of Cape Verde declared "Cabo Verde" to be the official English name of the country in 2013.
- ^ Chile's claimed Antarctic territory of the Chilean Antarctic (Antártica Chilena) is a commune of the Antártica Chilena Province of the Magallanes Region.
- ^ a b The People's Republic of China (PRC) is commonly referred to as "China", while the Republic of China (ROC) is commonly referred to as "Taiwan". The ROC is also occasionally known diplomatically as Chinese Taipei, or by another alternative name.
- ^ a b In 1949, the Republic of China government led by the Kuomintang (KMT) lost the Chinese Civil War to the Communist Party of China (CPC) and set up a provisional capital in Taipei. The CPC established the PRC. As such, the political status of the ROC and legal status of Taiwan (alongside the territories under ROC jurisdiction) are in dispute. In 1971, the United Nations gave the China seat to the PRC. In the view of the United Nations, no member of the organisation withdrew as a consequence of this but the ROC representatives declared that they were withdrawing. Most states recognise the PRC to be the sole legitimate representative of all China, and the UN classifies Taiwan as "Taiwan, Province of China". The ROC has de facto relations with most sovereign states. A significant political movement within Taiwan advocates Taiwan independence.
- ^ See also Dates of establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China and Foreign relations of China.
- ^ a b c More information on more or less federal structures can be found at a List of federations.
- ^ Also known as Congo-Kinshasa. Formerly referred to as Zaire, its official name from 1971 to 1997.
- ^ Also known as Congo-Brazzaville.
- ^ A simpler official short name has been encouraged by the Czech government, "Czechia". This variant remains uncommon, but has been adopted by several companies and organisations. See Name of the Czech Republic.
- ^ The designation "Denmark" can refer either to continental Denmark or to the short name for the entire Kingdom of the Danish Realm (e.g. in international organizations).
- ^ The government of East Timor uses "Timor-Leste" as the official English name of the country.
- ^ Formerly referred to as the Kingdom of Swaziland, its official name until 2018.
- ^ Åland was demilitarised by the Treaty of Paris in 1856, which was later affirmed by the League of Nations in 1921, and in a somewhat different context reaffirmed in the treaty on Finland's admission to the European Union in 1995.
- ^ France's claimed Antarctic territory of Adélie Land (Terre Adélie) is one of five constituent districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.
- ^ Also known as Guinea-Conakry.
- ^ While sometimes referred to as the "Republic of Iceland" and sometimes its counterpart Lýðveldið Ísland in Icelandic, the official name of the country is simply "Iceland". One example of the former is the name of the Constitution of Iceland, which in Icelandic is Stjórnarskrá lýðveldisins Íslands and literally means "the Constitution of the republic of Iceland". However, note that in this usage "republic" is not capitalised.
- ^ "Ireland" is the official name of the country in English. "Republic of Ireland" (the official description in English) and "Éire" (the official name in Irish) have sometimes been used unofficially to distinguish the state from the larger island of Ireland, however, this is officially deprecated. See names of the Irish state.
- ^ The government of Ivory Coast uses "Côte d'Ivoire" as the official English name of the country.
- ^ The country's official name of Myanmar, adopted in 1989, has been mixed and controversial, with the former name Burma still being used in many cases. See Names of Myanmar.
- ^ The designation "Netherlands" can refer either to the continental Netherlands or to the short name for the entire Kingdom (e.g. in international organizations).
- ^ Formerly known constitutionally as the "Republic of Macedonia" from 1991 to 2019 and under the international designation of "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) from 1993 to 2019 due to the Macedonia naming dispute with Greece. Following the Prespa agreement going into effect in February 2019, the country was renamed "North Macedonia".
- ^ Spain holds several small overseas territories scattered along the Mediterranean coast bordering Morocco, known as the Plazas de soberanía.
- ^ Formerly known as Ceylon until 1972.
- ^ Formerly known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, its official name from 1991 to 2017
- ^ The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is not included, as despite being a sovereign entity it lacks territory and does not claim statehood. Entities considered to be micronations are not included. It is often up to debate whether a micronation truly controls its claimed territory. Also omitted from this list are all uncontacted peoples, either who live in societies that cannot be defined as states or whose statuses as such are not definitively known.
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- ^ See the following on statehood criteria:
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- ^ a b c Ker-Lindsay, James (2012). The Foreign Policy of Counter Secession: Preventing the Recognition of Contested States. Oxford University Press. p. 53. ISBN 9780199698394. Archived from the original on 9 October 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013. In addition to the four cases of contested statehood described above, there are three other territories that have unilaterally declared independence and are generally regarded as having met the Montevideo criteria for statehood but have not been recognized by any states: Transnistria, Nagorny Karabakh, and Somaliland.
- ^ Krüger, Heiko (2010). The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: A Legal Analysis. Springer. p. 55. ISBN 978-3-642-11787-9.
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- ^ a b c Вице-спикер парламента Абхазии: Выборы в НКР соответствуют всем международным стандартам Archived 11 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine: "Абхазия, Южная Осетия, НКР и Приднестровье уже давно признали независимость друг друга и очень тесно сотрудничают между собой", – сказал вице-спикер парламента Абхазии. ... "...Абхазия признала независимость Нагорно-Карабахской Республики..." – сказал он."
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- ^ Kreuter, Aaron (2010). "Self-Determination, Sovereignty, and the Failure of States: Somaliland and the Case for Justified Secession" (PDF). Minnesota Journal of International Law. University of Minnesota Law School. 19:2: 380–381. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013. Considering each of these factors, Somaliland has a colorable argument that it meets the theoretical requirements of statehood. ... On these bases, Somaliland appears to have a strong claim to statehood.
- ^ International Crisis Group (23 May 2006). "Somaliland: Time for African Union leadership"(PDF). The Africa Report. Groupe Jeune Afrique (110): 10–13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- ^ Mesfin, Berouk (September 2009). "The political development of Somaliland and its conflict with Puntland" (PDF). ISS Paper. Institute for Security Studies (200): 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- ^ Arieff, Alexis. "De Facto Statehood? The Strange Case of Somaliland" (PDF). Yale Journal of International Affairs. International Affairs Council at Yale (Spring/Summer 2008): 1–79. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
- ^ "Somaliland profile". BBC News. 14 December 2017. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
- ^ Jansen, Dinah (2009). "The Conflict between Self-Determination and Territorial Integrity: the South Ossetian Paradigm". Geopolitics Vs. Global Governance: Reinterpreting International Security. Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, University of Dalhousie: 222–242. ISBN 978-1-896440-61-3. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
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- ^ Regions and territories: Trans-Dniester
- ^ Hersch Lauterpacht (2012). Recognition in International Law. Cambridge University Press. p. 419. ISBN 9781107609433.
- ^ Hahn, Gordon (2002). Russia's Revolution from Above, 1985–2000: Reform, Transition, and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. p. 527. ISBN 978-0765800497.
- ^ Griffiths, Ryan (2016). Age of Secession: The International and Domestic Determinants of State Birth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 85, 213–242. ISBN 978-1107161627.
- ^ The following bullets are grouped according to the availability of sources for the two criteria ((a) and/or (b)). This arrangement is not intended to reflect the relative importance of the two theories. Additional details are discussed in the state's individual entries.
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