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How many countries in Asia?

It depends on what you call a country, but the answer is somewhere between 46-50 countries in Asia. How many exactly depends on your personal opinion, I explain below.

If you’ve read my article about how many countries are there in the world you’ll understand what constitutes a country, and what doesn’t.  If you follow my blog you’ll know that Asia has been my adopted home for several years, I bought a condo in Bangkok and made Thailand my home. In my journey to every country in the world, visiting all 49 countries in Asia was a little easier for me as it’s my ‘home’ continent’

Asia is by far the largest continent on the planet. It covers the most land with Russia occupying around a third of the region. It also has the biggest population, China (1.42 billion) and India (1.35 billion) pretty much guarantee that they’re always going to be top of the list size-wise. 

How many countries in Asia
How many countries in Asia? India has the 2nd biggest population in Asia

The United Nations Lists 49 countries that are in Asia

As I’ve explained in my ‘every country in the world ‘ article, the UN doesn’t always get the number of countries correct due to their political persuasions. I have listed the 49 countries below, and then explained why the UN’s list of 49 is different my my list of 49 countries in Asia.

It’s a little confusing because both the UN and the real number of countries in Asia is both 49, but there made up of different countries. scroll down below and it will become cleared.

The 49 countries the UN considers within Asia:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Armenia (I disagree with the UN here and consider Armenia part of Europe)
  3. Azerbaijan
  4. Bahrain
  5. Bangladesh
  6. Bhutan
  7. Brunei
  8. Cambodia
  9. China
  10. Cyprus (I disagree with the UN here and consider Cyrpus part of Europe)
  11. Georgia
  12. Egypt (I disagree with the UN here and consider Egypt part of Africa)
  13. India
  14. Indonesia
  15. Iran
  16. Iraq (Travel to Iraq isn’t so common, but it’s a beautiful country)
  17. Israel
  18. Japan
  19. Jordan
  20. Kazakhstan
  21. Kuwait
  22. Kyrgyzstan
  23. Laos
  24. Lebanon
  25. Malaysia
  26. Maldives
  27. Mongolia
  28. Myanmar (formerly Burma)
  29. Nepal
  30. North Korea
  31. Oman
  32. Pakistan
  33. Philippines
  34. Qatar
  35. Russia
  36. Saudi Arabia
  37. Singapore
  38. South Korea
  39. Sri Lanka
  40. Syria (Travel to Syria is tough, but last year I took a group of my blog readers)
  41. Tajikistan
  42. Thailand
  43. Timor-Leste
  44. Turkey
  45. Turkmenistan
  46. United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  47. Uzbekistan
  48. Vietnam
  49. Yemen (I now run tours to Socotra, Yemen – next one is in January 2021, let me know if you’d like to join!)
How many countries in Asia
How many countries in Asia; Yemen was my 2nd last country on my journey to every country in the world!

The UN considers the 49 countries above within Asia, I’ve removed 3 countries, leaving us with 46 countries in Asia. These are the countries removed:

  • Cyprus

If you locate Cyprus on the map you’ll soon notice that it is a lot closer to Europe than Asia, so it comes as no surprise that people often list it as being part of Asia but historically it’s seen as part of Europe. Its location is so open to interpretation that some people even place it in the Middle East.

  • Armenia

Armenia can be found between Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Much like Cyprus, it is commonly considered part of Europe, the reason for this is because of it’s close ties to Europe (it’s a member of the European Council) – most Armenians consider themselves to be European and not Asian. 

  • Egypt

Egypt stretches from the northeastern part of Africa all the way into the Middle East. It may be transcontinental but over 90% of Egypt is within Africa. The majority of the country lies in Africa and just tiny portion in Asia with the Sinai Peninsula. So it shouldn’t be considered part of Asia, but instead Africa.

How many countries are there in Asia
How many countries are there in Asia; I’m at the Sinai Peninsula, the Asian part of Egypt

So how do we get back from 46 countries To 49 in Asia?

The UN stated 49. We took away 3, leaving us with 46. Now we’ll add 3 more countries to that 46, bringing us back to 49 again. The 3 additional Asian countries are as follows:

47 – Taiwan

100% a county. The reason is doesn’t make the UN list is because China claims ownership of the territory. China, as we all know, wields a huge amount of power globally so unfortunately there aren’t any big players forcing the issue for Taiwan to be officially recognised as an independent state.

48 – Palestine

100% a country. I’d say it’s one of my favourite place in the world. It is a non-member observer state by the UN and 138 UN members recognise it as a country – an interesting fact I learnt when there was that Russia was one of the first to recognise it as an independent state. 

49 – Hong Kong

The one that is up for debate th most. Hong Kong is an autonomous region which is officially part of China (prior to 1997 it was part of the UK). It’s a special case because it’s part of the ‘one country, two systems’ idea – they control most things apart from defence and foreign affairs. They have their own passport, their own flag and it seems like the large majority doesn’t identify as being part of China – so, for me, it’s a country. The Chinese will disagree.

Hiking elephant mountain in Taipei
Is Taiwan A Country? Yes!

Other Territories With Internal Sovereignty 

So that’s my count list of 49 countries that I see as part of Asia. Here are 2 more places in the continent I don’t add to the list of countries. These are places that belong to other sovereign states, but in many people’s eyes, they are countries. I’ll let you decide what you think about that.

  • Macau

Macau is an interesting place which is well worth a visit if you’re in Hong Kong, you can have a flutter in the casinos and check out the colonial architecture from when it was a Portuguese colony. It doesn’t as a country though, it is a special administrative region which is owned by China.

  • Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in the northern part of Iraq., it has its own regional government but isn’t a country. In the capital city, Erbil, they have 32 diplomatic missions, plus the UN and EU. I think it’s close to a country as you can get, with it’s own flag and national sports teams. I can’t add it to my list just yet though – but you have to visit if you want to tick off every place in Asia.

  • Tibet

Ethnically and culturally independent of China, with a different language, flag and national identity. But China ‘owns’ Tibet for want of a better word. Although you need special permits/visas to enter Tibet, Tibetans do carry Chinese passports, and adhere to Chinese law. 

How many countries in Asia?
How many countries in Asia? In Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Not strictly a country.

What Do You Think?

So, if we’re looking for an official count of how many countries there are in Asia the answer is 49 (48 if you don’t consider Hong Kong independent enough of China to be seen as a country).

If we’re looking at how many places you need to have on your list to say you’ve travelled Asia fully then I think that’s 52, the standard 49 + Iraqi Kurdistan, Tibet and Macau. What do you guys think? Let me know if you agree with my count.

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