Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Unrecognized Countries

Matt over at Geography@About.com recently updated his list of countries to include the Republic of China (Taiwan). This decision led to many comments with most in favor while some were against the idea of considering the Republic of China an independent country.

The whole affair got me thinking. What are other (partially) unrecognized countries? Thanks to the magic of Wikipedia and several friendly geography text books I was able to create a list of countries which either have control of territory or are legally recognized by some other states while still remaining in limbo.

Some Recognition
  • Palestine - Palestine is one heck of a legal mess. Over one hundred countries recognize Palestine as a state. Recognition ranges from the exclusion of Israel to some recognizing both. While Palestine does not have complete control over territory it has de facto local control of the Gaza Strip. The main issue stopping Palestine from achieving complete independence is not Israel so much per se but Palestine itself. Currently Hamas and Fatah (both are the main parts of the "unity" government) are engaged in a small scale civil war over control of the Gaza Strip. This prevents any nation building on the part by Palestinians.
  • Republic of China - Only recognized by twenty-five other countries and the list is shrinking. The People's Republic of China is currently bribing other countries to which support to Beijing. While many countries do not have official ties with the Republic of China, certain businesses act as ambassadors under the table. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office acts as the embassy to the United States.
  • Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus - Created out of Turkish controlled territory after the invasion of 1974. Only recognized by Turkey and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which has no authority to do foreign affairs. Northern Cyprus is known for being a haven for kidnappers and smugglers. Turkey may have to drop support of Northern Cyprus if it wishes to join the European Union.
  • Western Sahara - Check a map of Africa. Does it have Western Sahara or is Morocco extended south a ways? When Spain left Spanish Sahara in the 1970s Morocco quickly moved in. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is recognized by forty-five states and is a member of the African Union.

No Recognition
  • Abkhazia and South Ossetia - Two states in Georgia which lack any official recognition but have the support of Russia. Both regions are populated minorities that have long been allied with Russians. In Abkhazia the Russian Orthodox Church is operating counter to the Georgian Orthodox Church in direct violation of Orthodox law.
  • Somaliland - While the rest of Somalia continues to be torn apart by an Islamist insurgency, Somaliland has been peaceful. While Somalia was occupied by Italy and poorly managed, the British instilled a well formed system of control which has managed to keep Somaliland out of the newspapers (a very good thing). Notable geographer Harm de Blij has repeatedly called for Somaliland to be recognized by the world.
  • Tamil Eelam - If you refer to this as the "Republic of Bad Asses" then you are not off the mark by much. This breakaway state from Sri Lanka is operated by the Tamil Tigers, the terrorist group which invented the suicide bomber. They have their own courts, stamp minting board, bank, and national parks system. If they are not attacking you with their air force or ethnic cleansing your village they probably are writing you a speeding ticket (they have their own traffic division).
  • Transnistria - Small break-away region from Moldova. Transnistria occupies an area about the size of my lawn. While it does not have any recognition, thousands of Russian troops are present. The troops main purpose seems to be keeping the Moldavians out. Transnistria is notable for its scary Communist-style flag.

Did Catholicgauze miss any others? Making a list is not easy. Cyprus, Israel, People's Republic of China, and Vatican City are on any real list of countries but not recognized by all governments. Subjectivity plays a big role in geopolitics.

11 comments:

Chris Hillcoat said...

Matt lists the number of countries as 192 + Vatican + Taiwan, but didn't Serbia and Montenegro's split take that up to 193?

Catholicgauze said...

Serbia and Montenegro did split up. However, Matt already adjusted for that.

Adrian said...

Would you count Kosovo?

Catholicgauze said...

I wouldn't count Kosovo. Right now its official under UN control. While the future is in debate I am aware of no side which claims that Kosovo is independent right now.

Diab said...

What about Nagorno Karabakh? It is self proclaimed independent, and I think recognized by Armenia and occupied by its army after the war with Azerbaijan.

Catholicgauze said...

Perhaps I should have included Nagorno Karabakh but I decided against it. After the Nagorno Karabakh War ended in 1994 both Armenian and NK forces jointly control the region. NK uses Armenian money and NK politicans frequently become involved in Armenian politics. So NK is in another weird limbo.

SOMALILANDER said...

i hope the world will recognize for SOMALILAND.somaliland have been a peaceful country for more than 2 decades while the rest of somalia are fighting to be a stable country.during those decades SOMALILAND's people were wishing to get recognition but unfortunately the world haven't recognized yet.

SOMALILANDER said...

SOMALILAND WILL GET THE RECOGNITION SOON, WE WILL NOT GIVE UP.WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR MORE THAN 22 YEARS AND I HOPE OUR PEOPLE'S WISHING WILL COME SOON.

Anonymous said...

how do you know that Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a haven for kidnappers and smugglers? have you ever lived there? I have lived there for many many years and witnessed or heard of no major criminal event...it's not a haven for kidnappers or smugglers but it's a heaven itself. I suggest you be careful of your misguidance or misrepresentation of a state where you have no idea at all.

praveen raj said...

matt i think you left many unrecognized countries and also you have a bad opiniun about tamil eelam please read about it

Catholicgauze said...

Praveen Raj,
Thank you for the comment. What other unrecognized countries with territory did I leave off the list? By the way, Tamil Eelam is no longer in existence. And it was a terrorist state.
-Catholicgauze, not Matt