For as long as I could remember, I had been counting the world as 196 countries. This number is usually considered one of the most popular counts by the travel community as a means of measurements. It amounts to the 193 countries recognized by the United Nations, plus 2 observer countries (Vatican and Palestine) and Kosovo which s part of the IMF and World Bank. Some even include Taiwan as a 197th.
But once I got closer to finishing the world, I decided to backtrack and use another popular count: 195. This comprises the 193 and the two observers, but not Kosovo. It is not recognized as an observer and thus, not really qualifies as a full country. This seems to be the most accepted convention as of 2021.
I have been twice to Kosovo and really enjoyed my time there. But I have decided that until it strikes the observer status, I would not count it in my official count of countries visited.
Some of my followers have been confused with the sudden change, and I felt it was better to write about it in a post.
At that same time, I have changed my for of counting a country I have been to. Some people consider stepping foot in a country counts as an “I have been there”. Others, like the Century Club, are even more flexible, and consider landing a flight on the tarmac like a “check”.
As for me, I have always used the standard of “stamps”, and wasn’t counting places I only transited. Until 2020 when I decided to consider Equatorial Guinea as a “check” for being only at the port of Malabo, even without an entry stamp. In 2010, while I was land crossing west Africa from Morocco to Cameroon, I had boarded a commercial boat from Calabar in Nigeria to Douala in Cameroon, since the rebels were active in the other crossing in the north. Crossing by boat was considered very dangerous at the time, but less than today where it is practically impossible. The boat had made a stop in Malabo port to drop merchandise for an hour, where I managed to get off. I figured that until the covid crisis ends and we can all travel again peacefully, it is a good compromise to my own rule.