Country Count Criteria




What's a country:

1) Sovereign internationally recognised countries and those which are recognised as separate territories by the UN - for example, Western Sahara is treated by UN as a separate territory from Morocco, and so is West Bank & Gaza currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority, i.e., Moroccan and Israeli occupation treated illegal and hence these two are considered separate entities.

2) Dependent territories and constitutionally separate territories, i.e., colonies and dependent territories like Bermuda, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Faroe Islands.  Hong Kong and Macau are considered separate territories before their reunification with China and since I was there before 1997, I regard them as separate territories.

3) Territories enjoying de jure or de facto independence though not recognised by most of the world, e.g., Taiwan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transdniestria and Abkhazia are examples.

4) Territories that are merely culturally different or merely aspire independence but enjoy neither de facto nor international recognition are NOT considered separate entities, e.g., Quebec and Tibet.  Their inclusion will bring about excessive disagreement and a temptation to include every province and district.

What's a visit:

1) I must have done sightseeing at a meaningful tourist attraction or site.

2) Business trips and mere airport stopovers do not count as a visit.



Further elaboration on countries & entities:

Wikipedia's List of sovereign states
This list derives its definition of a state from Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention of 1933. According to the Convention, a state should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population, (b) a defined territory, (c) government, and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states. In respect of the last qualification, the role of recognition by other states can often be crucial since it implies acceptance into the international community.[62] The list includes all states which are often regarded as satisfying these criteria and claim to be sovereign and independent. However, in many cases, whether an entity satisfies the Montevideo Convention criteria is disputed. It is also important to note that there is a divergence of opinion in international law on whether the Montevideo Convention criteria alone are sufficient qualities of statehood. Links to different theories on this question are provided below.
On the basis of the above criteria, this list includes the following 203 entities:
* 193 sovereign states with general international recognition:
- 192 member states of the United Nations
- One state with general international recognition, governed by the Holy See (a United Nations permanent observer): Vatican City
*10 sovereign states lacking general international recognition, none of which are members of the United Nations:
- One state with diplomatic relations with more than 100 states and informal relations with 25 others, governed by the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization (a United Nations permanent observer): Palestine
- One state, recognized by 63 United Nations member states and by Taiwan, informal relations with six others: Kosovo
- One state, recognized by 46 other states, a member of the African Union, in partial control of the Western Sahara (listed by the United Nations as a non self-governing territory): the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
- One state, competing for recognition with another state, currently recognized by 23 United Nations member or observer states as the state representing China, but no longer recognised by the United Nations as of 25 October 1971: the Republic of China
- Two states, recognized by three United Nations member states, by Transnistria and by the other of the two: Abkhazia and South Ossetia
- One state, recognized by one United Nations member state and having informal relations with 19 more: Northern Cyprus
- One state, recognized by Abkhazia and South Ossetia: Transnistria
- Two states not recognized by any other state: Somaliland and Nagorno-Karabakh

Wikipedia has a list of "Dependent Territories"
A dependent territory, dependent area or dependency is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a State.
There are varying degrees and forms of dependence, commonly distinguished from other subnational entities in that they are not considered to be part of the motherland or mainland of the governing State. In most cases they also represent a different order of separation. A subnational entity typically represents a division of the State proper, while a dependent territory might be an overseas territory that enjoys a greater degree of autonomy. For instance, many of them have more or less separate legal systems from the governing States. Varying among different legal and constitutional traditions, these territories may or may not be considered part of the States.
There are 60 dependencies on this list and I have excluded those without permanent population from my list of "Countries & Political Entities". 

In addition, I have also included Reunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana, which are part of Metropolitan France (and hence excluded on either the Wikipedia list of dependent territories or from the UN list of non-self-governing territories), though located in different continents.

Hong Kong and Macau are integral parts of China since 1997 and 1999 respectively. I visited these territories before their integration with China and have hence included them as among the entities I have visited. Any visit that takes place after their unification with China should be excluded.