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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

European topographical map
Same map as above, but showing sovereign states widely accepted by the UN instead of topographies

In geography, a country is a geographical region. The term is often applied to a political division or the territory of a sovereign state, or to a smaller, or former, political division of a geographical region. Usually, but not always, a country coincides with a sovereign territory and is associated with a state, nation or government.

In common usage, the term country is used in the sense of both nations and states, with definitions varying. In some cases it is used to refer both to states and to other political entities,[1][2][3] while in some occasions it refers only to states[4] It is not uncommon for general information or statistical publications to adopt the wider definition for purposes such as illustration and comparison.[5][6][7][8][9]

Some cohesive geographical entities, which were formerly sovereign states, are commonly regarded and referred to still as countries; such as England, Scotland and Wales – in the United Kingdom.[10][11][12][13] Historically, the countries of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were others. Former states such as Bavaria (now part of Germany) and Piedmont (now part of Italy) would not normally be referred to as "countries" in contemporary English. The degree of autonomy of non-state countries varies widely. Some are possessions of states, as several states have overseas dependencies (such as the British Virgin Islands, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and American Samoa), with territory and citizenry distinct from their own. Such dependent territories are sometimes listed together with independent states on lists of countries, and may be treated as a "country of origin" in international trade, as Hong Kong is. Some countries are divided among several states, such as Korea and Kurdistan.


Etymology and development of the word

Country has developed from the Latin contra, meaning "against", used in the sense of "that which lies against, or opposite to, the view", i.e. the landscape spread out to the view. From this came the Late Latin term contrata, which became the modern Italian contrada. The term appears in Middle English from the 13th century, already in several different senses.[14]

In English the word has increasingly become associated with political divisions, so that one sense, associated with the indefinite article - "a country" - is now a synonym for state, or a former sovereign state, in the sense of sovereign territory.[15] Areas much smaller than a political state may be called by names such as the West Country in England, the Black Country (a heavily industrialized part of England), "Constable Country" (a part of East Anglia painted by John Constable), the "big country" (used in various contexts of the American West), "coal country" (used of parts of the US and elsewhere) and many other terms.[16]

The equivalent terms in French and Romance languages (pays and variants) have not carried the process of being identified with political sovereign states as far as the English "country", and in many European countries the words are used for sub-divisions of the national territory, as in the German Länder, as well as a less formal term for a sovereign state. France has very many "pays" that are officially recognised at some level, and are either natural regions, like the Pays de Bray, or reflect old political or economic unities, like the Pays de la Loire. At the same time Wales, the United States, and Brazil are also "pays" in everyday French speech.

A version of "country" can be found in the modern French language as contrée, based on the word cuntrée in Old French[16], that is used similarly to the word "pays" to define regions and unities, but can also be used to describe a political state in some particular cases. The modern Italian contrada is a word with its meaning varying locally, but usually meaning a ward or similar small division of a town, or a village or hamlet in the countryside.

See also


  1. ^ "Acts Interpretation Act 1901 - Sect 22: Meaning of certain words". Australasian Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  2. ^ "The Kwet Koe v Minister for Immigration & Ethnic Affairs & Ors [1997] FCA 912 (8 September 1997)". Australasian Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 2—General" (PDF). United States Department of State. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  4. ^ Rosenberg, Matt. "Geography: Country, State, and Nation". Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  5. ^ "Greenland Country Information". Retrieved 2008-05-28.  "The World Factbook - Rank Order - Exports". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  6. ^ "Index of Economic Freedom". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  7. ^ "Index of Economic Freedom - Top 10 Countries". The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  8. ^ "Asia-Pacific (Region A) Economic Information" (PDF). The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  9. ^ "Subjective well-being in 97 countries" (PDF). University of Michigan. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  10. ^ "Legal Research Guide: United Kingdom - Law Library of Congress (Library of Cong". Library of Congress website. Library of Congress. 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2009-09-22. "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the collective name of four countries, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The four separate countries were united under a single Parliament through a series of Acts of Union." 
  11. ^ "countries within a". 10 Downing Street website. 10 Downing Street. 2003-01-10. Retrieved 2009-09-22. "The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland." 
  12. ^ "Commonwealth Secretariat - Geography". Commonwealth Secretariat website. Commonwealth Secretariat. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-09-22. "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is a union of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland." 
  13. ^ "Travelling Europe - United Kingdom". European Youth Portal. European Commission. 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2009-09-22. "The United Kingdom is made up of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales." 
  14. ^ John Simpson, Edmund Weiner, ed. "country". Oxford English Dictionary (1971 compact ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198611862. 
  15. ^ OED, Country
  16. ^ a b John Simpson, Edmund Weiner, ed. Oxford English Dictionary (1971 compact ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198611862. 

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to List of countries article)

From Wikitravel

This is a list of the countries and territories of the world in alphabetical order.



Abkhazia*, Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antarctica, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan


Bahamas, Bahrain, Baker Island, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bouvet Island, Brazil, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi


Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Christmas Island, Clipperton Island, Cocos Islands, Colombia, Comoros, Congo: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo: Republic of the Congo, Cook Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic


Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic


East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Europa Island


Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Guiana, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands


Gabon, Gambia, Gaza Strip, Georgia (country), Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Glorioso Islands, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana


Haiti, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Honduras, Hong Kong, Howland Island, Hungary


Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy


Jamaica, Jan Mayen, Japan, Jarvis Island, Jersey, Johnston Atoll, Jordan, Juan de Nova Island


Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kingman Reef, Kiribati, Korea: North Korea, Korea: South Korea, Kosovo*, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan


Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg


Macau, Republic of Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia: Federated States of Micronesia, Midway Islands, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar


Nagorno-Karabakh*, Namibia, Nauru, Navassa Island, Nepal, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Cyprus*, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway




Pakistan, Palau, Palestinian Territories, Palmyra Atoll, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paracel Islands, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Pitcairn Islands, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico




Reunion, Romania, Russia, Rwanda


Saint Helena (island), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, South Ossetia* Spain, Spratly Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Svalbard, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria


Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tromelin Island, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu


Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan


Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Islands


Wallis and Futuna, West Bank, Western Sahara*, Wales


no countries or territories beginning with "X"




Zambia, Zimbabwe

* = Limited or no recognition of independence.


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