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Have you ever wondered how many countries there are in the world? Well, it may seem like a fairly straightforward question, it's actually quite complicated. The problem is - it depends on who you ask as to what answer you get and there is no one generally accepted answer. Also, the world "country" has no official meaning. A good place to start might be an organisation that knows what they're talking about - the United Nations. There are currently 193 members of the UN. This is why it is the lowest number you'll ever hear to how many countries are there. Along with the 193 members, the UN also has two permanent non-member observer states - the Holy See (representing the Vatican City State) and the state of Palestine. Despite not being a member, the Vatican City is a country and is recongised by everyone as such. Despite being a country within a city within a country and small not only by country or city standards but more comparable in size to that of a small village with a population of around 800 and a land area of less than half of a square kilometre. It is officially the smallest country in the world and compared to the largest country, it is 38 million times smaller than Russia. But size doesn't matter and the fact of the matter that Vatican City is a country. So...logic would dictate that the State of Palestine is also a country then, right? Well... no. Not yet anyway. The State of Palestine wants to be a full member of the UN and submitted an application in November 2011. However, the Holy See isn't a full member simply because...it doesn't want to be. Possibly because it wants to remain neutral. It seems unlikely that Palestine will gain full membership for one reason - the United States of America. If you're unaware of the situation in the Middle East, the Palestinians and the Israelis have waging war on and off for decades. And with Israel being a close ally of United States, who often provide financial and military assistance to Israel, the US has always voted against Palestine. This is despite president Obama he does want a sovereign Palestinian state. The US didn't want the Palestine to become even an observer state, but they still won an overwhelming majority. However, in order to gain full membership, the decision lies with the UN Security Council. The Security Council is made of 15 members - 5 permanent members (also known as The Big Five) and 10 non-permanent members who serve for 2 years. To become a full member of the UN a country must obtain a two-thirds majority vote. The Big Five consists of China, Russia, France, the United States and the United Kingdom, all of whom have what's known as "veto power" in which they can veto any UN resolution and it won't get passed, even if all other 14 members are in favour of it. Therefore, the US can veto any membership application, made by the State of Palestine. The UN aside, there are many other reasons why you might hesitate to call Palestine a country. First of all, they actually don't have any legally defined borders and the lines used to outline their claimed territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are actually lines created in 1949 as part of an armistice agreement to end of the violence of the Arab-Israeli war and were never intended to be used as internal borders. On top of this, the Israeli army control huge parts of their land, although this is widely, considered by the entire international community as a breach of international law. Moving on, the US Department of State list 195 independent countries, and these are...the 193 members of the UN, the previously discussed Vatican City, as well as...the Republic of Kosovo. Kosovo is partially recognized 

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