When I mention that I am trying to visit every country in Europe people always ask ‘How many are there?’
Err, Well, a recent article by Timothy Garton Ash starts by considering the same question. It ain’t easy…
“How many countries are there in Europe? Your answer depends on what you mean by Europe – and what you mean by a country. The European Union currently has 25 member states. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has 55 “participating states”, but they include Andorra, the Holy See, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino, which are all within the bounds of the EU without being member states, and Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Canada and the United States – some or all of which would not be considered by some or most Europeans to be in Europe. When the central Asian “stans” joined the OSCE in 1992, someone quipped that its Europe now resembled Nicholas of Cusa’s definition of God – His centre being everywhere and His circumference nowhere.
The Council of Europe, which claims on its website to represent 800 million Europeans, has 46 member states, including Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Turkey. The Eurovision Song Contest has a variable line-up, but this year’s 24 entries included hopeful crooners from Turkey, Armenia, Moldova and Israel. The Miss Europe beauty pageant has had contestants from Turkey, Israel and Lebanon. The Union of European Football Associations (Uefa), which describes itself as “the governing body of football on the European continent” and, interestingly, “an association of associations based on representative democracy”, has 52 members, including Andorra, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Israel, but also England, Scotland and Wales as separate national teams. (We are so used to this, we forget how odd it is.)
However you draw up the tally, there’s no question that Europe has more countries per head of population than any other continent. China is one country for 1.3 billion people, Europe is between 45 and 55 countries for, at most, 800 million people. On a generous estimate, we have an eighth of the world’s people but a quarter of the world’s states. This week, we’ll get one more. Step forward, Miss Montenegro!”
The more authoritative and Internationally recognised ‘List according to Eddy’ has 46 member states including Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and NOT Turkey.