Counting countries or the art of exaggeration

Last modified 20.03.2022 | Published 04.12.2015Travel

Est. reading time:

Have you ever wondered how far you’ve travelled, how you got there, for how long, and to how many countries? Well, I have. My statistics are found on Travellerspoint, along with the map I use to keep track of my travels.

It states that I have been travelling the equivalent of trip to the moon and to more than 80 countries. I can check how far I’ve driven on motorbike, by car, on trains and other means of transportation. Airplane is the big winner.


What about transits?

The number of countries is a bit flattering, and also not correct in my view. You can lie with statistics. The fact is that the automated country list on the Travellerspoint service includes transits. In my own country list of 67 countries (as of 2017) I have omitted transits in Jamaica, UruguayMontenegro and India.

Transits are in my view exempted, but is a country? I choose not to include DDR, even though it was an autonomous country at the time of my visit. It was later reunited into Germany.


My travel map in 2019



What is China?

At the time of my visit neither Macau nor Hong Kong were parts of the People’s Republic of China, now they are – although both retain a special status. I do not list them here. Not even Tibet is included in my country list. This previously independent country was invaded by China in 1950 and has de facto become a part of China. On the other hand I list China (People’s Republic of China) and Taiwan (Republic of China) as two, even though both view themselves as one. You see?


Overseas territories?

The archipelago of Svalbard is often listed as a separate country. This is wrong. Svalbard holds a very special status among the Arctic countries but is actually part of Norway. What about Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory? It should be omitted from a country list too, at least I do. There are a number of such legal, territorial entities around the world, you may call them former colonies, dependencies and so on. A country I actually include is Palestine. It is not universally recognised as a country.

This means I could have added almost 20 more countries to my list of 67 (2017 update). That is quite an increase, not least in relative terms. I might add that some non-counted “countries” are included in other categorisations on this website.

If you are interested in issues like this you may want to look into another article I wrote several years ago about ticking off countries (been there….). To some people this is serious business. See who they are in this updated article.

The updated country list is found on my World Map.

This article was first published in 2015 but is being updated.