Organizing the Countries of the World by Continent

By: Desiree Bowie  | 
Naming all the countries on the planet can be a challenge when multiple governments lay claim to the same land area, so for the sake of clarity in this article, we've deferred to the 195 countries that the United Nations recognizes. Lusky / Getty Images

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.