I did it!!For those of you who have been following my adventures, I made it to my 100th country (Tajikistan) in October, followed by my 101st (Turkmenistan) a few days later. I had visited my 7th continent (Antarctica) earlier in the year. To acknowledge my accomplishments and the fact that I paid them $14.00 to do so, the folks at International Travel News, sent me the following awards:
By the way, I really recommend International Travel News, and not just because I bought an award from them. See http://www.intltravelnews.com.
I've gotten several questions about my quest for 100 countries; here are a few of them:
How many countries are there?
According to the International Travel News, there are 196 countries, or "independent and sovereign nations". This includes 193 members of the United Nations, plus Kosovo, Taiwan, and the Vatican.
Is that the official number of countries?
There is no official governing body that decides what countries qualify for travel purposes. There is something called the Traveler's Century Club, that counts 324 countries and territories, of which I have been to about 135. However they want a $100 initiation fee and $85 per year to join, so they can keep their 324 "countries".
What determines whether you have "visited" a country?
Again, there is no "official" designation as to what constitutes visiting a country. My own personal rule is that you have to set foot in the country. This means that an airport layover where you go into the terminal counts, as does hopping off a train during a stop in a country. On the other hand, an air stopover where you don't get off the plane doesn't count, nor does passing through a country on a train without getting off. These are my own rules, and if you don't like them, you can start your own travel club. :-)
I was in East Germany before Germany reunified--does that count?
There are no official rules on this either. My personal rule is that only countries that currently exist count. This can cut both ways--you wouldn't get credit for East Germany, but if you were in Yugoslavia (when it existed) and had been in multiples area that is now separate countries (like Serbia and Montenegro), you would get credit for those countries.