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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

Why 198 Countries?


With a lethal weapon in Ivory Coast. “Garfos” in Portugese means forks, btw.

I entered the 198th and last country, Cape Verde, on May 8, 2013, as a 37 year-and-344-days-old. That apparantly still make me the youngest person to visit all the countries of the world while working full-time. Or as a hobby traveller.

I have since completed visiting all 198 countries in the world twice.

But how many countries are there, exactly?

Why 198 countries? There are many ways of counting the countries of the world. FIFA recons that there are 211 while the UN has 193 members. When I set a goal, he wants it to be logic, explainable and achievable. My goal to visit 198 countries is explained as follows.

There are 193 UN member countries  in the world. I count all of them.

There are 2 UN observers. I count both the Vatican and Palestine.

3 additional countries are recognized by a fair number (over 10%) of the 195 above. Kosovo, Western Sahara and Taiwan are therefore also counted.

That makes the total number 198.

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Abkhazia and South Ossetia are acknowledged by four UN members (Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru) while Northern Cyprus is acknowledged by one (Turkey). Neither Nagorno-Karabakh nor Transnistria is acknowledged by any UN members (but by each other and by Abkhazia and South Ossetia). Source: Wikipedia.  

Celebrating the last country with a jump in Cape Verde which Gunnar Garfors entered on May 8, 2013.

I visited 193 of them the last 10 years, 3 in 1992 and 2 in 2000. Alone to 96 of the 198 countries and with at least one other traveller to the remaining 102. Most countries were with my brother Øystein Garfors (35) and with friends Andreas Munkelien (21) and Asbjørn Havnen (17). All three of them, and another 9 friends and family members, joined the celebratory trip to the last country.

What’s a visit? But what constitutes a visit to a country? In my mind, I must have done something there and have a story to tell. It isn’t necessary to stay overnight, but leaving the airport or train/bus station is mandatory. To merely step across the border doesn’t count.

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