Country

A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state, nation, or other political entity. It may be a sovereign state or make up one part of a larger state.[1] For example, the country of Japan is an independent, sovereign state, while the country of Wales is a component of a multi-part sovereign state, the United Kingdom.

The marked territories on this global map are mostly of countries that are sovereign states with full international recognition (brackets denote the country of a marked territory that is not a sovereign state). Some territories are countries in their own right but are not recognized as such (e.g. Taiwan), and some few marked territories are disputed about which country they belong to (e.g. Kashmir) or if they are countries in their own right (e.g. Western Sahara (territory) or the state known by the same name).

The definition and usage of the word "country" is flexible and has changed over time. The Economist wrote in 2010 that "any attempt to find a clear definition of a country soon runs into a thicket of exceptions and anomalies."[2] A country may be a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division (such as Korea), a physical territory with a government (such as Senegal), or a geographic region associated with certain distinct political, ethnic, or cultural characteristics (such as the Basque Country).

Most sovereign states, but not all countries, are members of the United Nations. The largest country by area is Russia, while the smallest is the microstate Vatican City. The most populous is China, while the Pitcairn Islands are the least populous.


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