How many countries are there?
There are about 196 countries in the world today. But because the political world is constantly changing, that number never stays the same for very long. The number 196 includes Taiwan. Although Taiwan operates as an independent country, many countries (including the United States) do not officially recognize it as one. Of these countries, 193 belong to the United Nations (UN), an international organization that aims to get countries to cooperate with one another. The exceptions are Taiwan (in 1971, the UN disqualified Taiwan and replaced it with the People's Republic of China), Vatican City, and Kosovo. The newest UN members are Switzerland (2002), Timor-Leste (2002), Montenegro (2006), and South Sudan (2011).