It’s a simple question. Or is it?
A little research quickly reveals it is not as easy to determine as it might appear.
It has long been a personal quest to become a member of a select group known as The Century Club consisting of travelers who have visited 100 countries or more. But the task is more difficult than mere geography, because first, it must be decided what constitutes a country.
Random House College Dictionary defines a country is “any considerable territory demarcated by specific conditions; region or district.”
Today, Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of
When Lonely Planet compiled a list of countries for The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World, the publishers faced similar difficulties. Rather than using political considerations, Lonely Planet based their results on popular travel destinations. Therefore, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and
Ultimately, Lonely Planet defined 220 places as countries.
The United Nations, on the other hand, officially lists 193 countries. That number changes as geographic boundaries evolve: consider the break up of the former Soviet Union and
When you look at the UN’s list of countries, it is easy to see why an accurate number is so difficult to manage. There are numerous variables. The United Nations says the
. For now, though, it is separate.
The Galapagos Islands are in
Under strictest interpretations, it is fair to say
To truly count, the best rule is for a traveler should spend at least one night in a country, which would nullify refueling stops.
On the other hand, Ports of Call fall into a different category because they frequently offer access by ship to places difficult to reach. In such cases, a traveler should at least do a ground tour of the destination after docking.
Another provision is the “Pay Back” rule that allows travelers to count visits to retired countries (ie: a region previously recognized as a country) as a qualified listing. That rule states, however, that retired countries must eventually be replaced, or “paid back,” by a bona fide trip to a country that is currently listed.
Joining the ranks of The Century Club is a modern day equivalent of fulfilling the exploits of Phileas Phogg in Jules Verne’s epic adventure Around the World in 80 Days. To be true to the quest, the ideal approach is to visit as many countries with no potential for controversy.
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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world.
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
Read more of Travels with Peabod and Bob Taylor at The
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