203 Visited Sovereign States
Have you ever wondered how many countries are in the world? The question seems straight forward, but the answer is actively debated. It is important to note that a country may or may not have statehood (e.g. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are constituent countries under the sovereign umbrella of the United Kingdom). As international law does not require a declaration of independence, two competing theories have emerged as criteria in defining statehood:
Constitutive theory describes sovereignty as being reached once another sovereign state recognizes them. Legitimacy cultivates through acceptance from the international community. This does not prohibit unrecognized de facto states (e.g. Somaliland) from existing, they just aren’t recognized of their existence until they receive recognition from one of the 200 recognized states that make up the international community (e.g. united nations 195 + associated states 2 + states with recognition from ten or more recognized states 3). Each recognized state has sovereign prerogative over statehood, collectively recognizing 203 sovereign states (e.g. united nations 195 + associated states 2 + partially recognized 6).
Declarative theory describes sovereignty as being reached once these four qualifications are met: (a) supreme authority to govern – free from external interference; (b) a defined territory with sufficient control over a claimed area – in the case of a new state emerging from civil war, the rebel group claiming sovereignty will need to show a degree of control over a sufficiently defined area to claim independent statehood; (c) a permanent population; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with other states as only if an entity satisfies the element of sovereignty can it possess the legal capacity to act as a state in the international community. As there is no prerequisite of state recognition, an unrecognized entity may become a state as soon as it meets the minimal criteria for statehood. There are currently 208 sovereign states that have met this criterion (e.g. united nations 195 + associated states 2 + partially recognized 6 + unrecognized states 5).