How Many Countries Are There In Europe? 49!
UPDATED JANUARY 2021. I’m obsessed with countries. Which is why I spent 11 years visiting every country in the world! So If you’ve read my article where I worked out the answer to ‘how many countries are there in the world’ (probably 197 countries if you’re wondering) you’ll know that it can be a tricky process putting together these lists. Firstly, you’ve got to work out what constitutes a country and then what constitutes a continent, and which it belongs to. If you ask people how many countries are there in Europe you’ll get a few different answers.
If you check with the UN they’ll tell you there are 44 countries in Europe. Also, the European Union (EU) will tell you something different again. Factually speaking, however, there are 47, 49, 50 or 51 countries in Europe. Depending on if you personally choose to include a couple of tricky countries. Ultimately though, at a push, there are 49 countries in Europe. Read on and you’ll see why.
Why are there 49 countries in Europe?
There are a couple of big problems when asking how many countries there are in Europe.
- First, what is Europe as a continent? Is it a technical border? Or a geopolitical one?
- Then you have to ask if you consider the Eurasian Caucasus region (Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia) as part of Europe or not.
And finally, after deciding those problems you need to choose whether the total is 49, 50 or 51 countries – depending on it you accept or omit Turkey and Russia within Europe. These are the 2 countries which cause the most discussion, with many people including them within the borders Europe and even more who consider it part of greater Asia. I personally don’t include either to my count (I’ll tell you why soon), that’s why I’ve come to 49 as my answer to the question ‘how many countries are there in Europe?’.
There are plenty of countries or territories that people think should be added to the list, we’ll check those out later and look at why they don’t make my official list. First, let’s get to the 49 countries that are in Europe. As I mentioned above, the UN has listed 44 countries as part of Europe so I’ve put a little note next to each country that doesn’t make their list.
- Armenia (*the UN doesn’t include Armenia as part of Europe)
- Azerbaijan (*not included by the UN, but there are loads of cool things to do in Azerbaijan, I loved my time there)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Cyprus (*not included by the UN)
- Czech Republic
- Georgia (*not included by the UN)
- Ireland (check out my Ireland road trip!)
- Kosovo (*not included by the UN)
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
- Vatican City (*Holy See on the UN list)
I know, I know, you kind remember where all these countries are. Here is a Google Map of Europe so you can check and pretend you knew all along:
Is Turkey in Europe? Why Isn’t Turkey Included the 49 countries in Europe?
Istanbul, Turkey’s ‘main’ city and cultural hub, is famous for being the only city that sits across 2 Continents Asia and Europe. 95%+ of Turkey is to the east of Istanbul. So that section falls within Asia. That leaves less than 5% on the European continent. Therefore Turkey shouldn’t be included as a country in Europe and is included in the Asian list of countries instead. There are people that do strangely consider Turkey as part of continental Europe although that’s often politically motivated. Also, the UN also list Turkey as officially being part of Western Asia.
Is Russia in Europe?
Russia has a similar issue to Turkey in that it straddles two continents. But Russia is also the largest country in the world by landmass, so that plays a role too. Russia is also distinctly non-European in terms of its politics and allies. More than that though, for most people (me included), the simple fact is that 77% of Russia’s area is in Asia and 23% is in Europe. So IF you have to place Russia on a continent, it is there considered as Asia.
Russia, interestingly, has never dictated itself to be in either Europe or Asia. Culturally, it’s slightly more European, and some people do consider Russia part of Europe. There is no right or wrong answer with this one, as Moscow, the Capital, is on the European side, making it even more confusing. Generally, most people do consider Russia part of the Asian continent though.
Why is the Caucasus region, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, considered part of Europe?
Basically, the Caucasus mountains mark the edge of the European continent, and for that reason, Europe’s highest mountain is in that mountain range (if you want to climb Mt Elbrus, read my blog post about how to), albeit confusingly, it’s in Russia!
So everything within that mountain range is therefore considered Europe in terms of the European tectonic plate. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, therefore, are all considered part of Europe. Turkey is separate from that logic as it stretches further still south into the Middle East which is definitively part of the Asian continent (still with me?!).
What about disputed territories like Northern Cyprus etc?
Firstly we have to decide what is a country, so to refresh your memory about the definition of what constitutes a country click here. The next group of places aren’t internationally recognised as Sovereign states or countries. This isn’t a political opinion, this is just factual information.
The next group of 5 places see themselves as independent countries BUT importantly they aren’t recognised by most countries around the world, that’s why I don’t have them in my list of 49 European countries above.
Northern Cyprus, officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is only recognised by 1 country on the planet. Turkey. Despite independence being declared in the same year I was born, 1983. On paper, officially, North Cyprus is still part of Cyprus proper.
This was one of more stranger places I’ve visited. Independence was declared here back in 1991. No country within the UN recognises it as a country, so it’s still officially part of Azerbaijan. It is recognised by 3 states that are not members of the UN and they are the 3 below.
Independence was declared in 1990, no country within the UN recognises it as a country. It is recognised by 3 states that are not members of the UN; South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabach. Officially belongs to Moldova.
Independence was declared in 1991, Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru (UN Member States) recognise it as a country. Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Transnistria (non-member states) also recognise it. Officially it is still part of Georgia.
Independence was declared in 1999,, Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru (UN Member States) recognise it as a country. (South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh (non-member states) also recognise it. Officially it is still part of Georgia.
Is England a country? And Scotland? What About The UK?!
Ah, the good ole’ Uk. It’s always a confusing issue for these topics. Ok, so on a cultural level we can look at England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island (the 4 places that make up the UK) as being individual countries. If you travel to any of those 4 countries and ask a local which country do they come from I guarantee that the overwhelming majority will not say the UK, instead they’ll name the individual country. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have some form of legislature but the country is still known as the UK, and the UK parliament (in England) is the overarching powerhouse.
So, whether we like it or not:
- England is not a country.
- Scotland is not a country
- Northern Ireland is not a country.
- Wales is not a country.
The 4 places make up the country called the United Kingdom. They all carry British passports, all use British pound sterling, all are answerable to the British government, pay British taxes and fly under the official flag of the Union Jack. Again, this isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact. Sorry if it upsets anyone!
The only argument as to them being countries is what does the word ‘country’ mean. If you accept a country as being an independent, sovereign state, then they simply aren’t countries. If you use a softer definition of the word, perhaps you could argue otherwise.
Dependencies. Places that aren’t countries, but many people think they are
There are plenty of other places that are countries in some people’s minds. But if you look closely they actually belong to other states, They are known as Dependencies. Here is a list of the dependencies in Europe. Remember, these aren’t countries.
Greenland – Denmark
To learn about my epic travel Greenland trip, check out my post about my trip there. It’s expensive but so, so beautful.
The Faroe Islands – Denmark
THE most underrated destination in Europe. You really must visit Faroe Islands as soon as possible. Check my blog post. This place is like Iceland. First, no-one went there. Now, EVERYONE is going there. The Faroe Islands will be next!
Svalbard – Norway
This is the second coolest island in the world. The coolest, in my opinion, is Socotra, Yemen. And another great destination where you can see polar bears in the wild, check out my last trip to Svalbard.
Gibraltar – UK
Channel Islands – UK
Isle Of Man – UK
So there are 49 countries in Europe?
Yes, there are 49 countries in Europe. You also have some separatist regions within Europe who want to become independent like Catalonia in Spain or Corsica in France, but they also can’t be considered countries. So 49 countries it is.
If you really want, you could remove all the thoughts of politics and technical facts, and then add into that disputed territories, dependencies and of course Turkey and Russia to that list if you want to make a list of all places you need to visit before you’ve truly travelled the whole of Europe. That would be 49 + 16 = 65 countries in ‘Extended Europe‘ if you will. Or the opposite, and do the 49 countries minus the 3 Caucasus countries (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan)giving you 46 countries in Europe. I’ll stick with 49 as my official answer though.
Over to you guys. Do you agree with my number? How many countries are there in Europe? Let me know by giving your answers in the comment section below.
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