The term country refers to a political state or nation or its territory. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence, or citizenship.
A country may be an independent sovereign state or part of a larger state,as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, a physical territory with a government, or a geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated people with distinct political characteristics. It is not inherently sovereign.
Countries can refer both to sovereign states and to other political entities,while other times it can refer only to states. For example, the CIA World Factbook uses the word in its "Country name" field to refer to "a wide variety of dependencies, areas of special sovereignty, uninhabited islands, and other entities in addition to the traditional countries or independent states".
The largest country in the world is Russia, while the most populous is China. The newest country is South Sudan.
The word country comes from Old French contrée, which derives from Vulgar Latin (terra) contrata ("(land) lying opposite"; "(land) spread before"), derived from contra ("against, opposite"). It most likely entered the English language after the Franco-Norman invasion during the 11th century.
In English the word has increasingly become associated with political divisions, so that one sense, associated with the indefinite article – "a country" – through misuse and subsequent conflation is now a synonym for state, or a former sovereign state, in the sense of sovereign territory or "district, native land".Areas much smaller than a political state may be called by names such as the West Country in England, the Black Country (a heavily industrialized part of England), "Constable Country" (a part of East Anglia painted by John Constable), the "big country" (used in various contexts of the American West), "coal country" (used of parts of the US and elsewhere) and many other terms.
The equivalent terms in French and other Romance languages ( pays and variants) have not carried the process of being identified with political sovereign states as far as the English "country", instead derived from, pagus, which designated the territory controlled by a medieval count, a title originally granted by the Roman Church. In many European countries the words are used for sub-divisions of the national territory, as in the German Bundesländer, as well as a less formal term for a sovereign state. France has very many "pays" that are officially recognized at some level, and are either natural regions, like the Pays de Bray, or reflect old political or economic entities, like the Pays de la Loire.
A version of "country" can be found in the modern French language as contrée, based on the word cuntrée in Old French,that is used similarly to the word "pays" to define non-state regions, but can also be used to describe a political state in some particular cases. The modern Italian contrada is a word with its meaning varying locally, but usually meaning a ward or similar small division of a town, or a village or hamlet in the countryside.
The term "country" can refer to a sovereign state. There is no universal agreement on the number of "countries" in the world since a number of states have disputed sovereignty status. By one application of the declarative theory of statehood and constitutive theory of statehood, there are 206 sovereign states; of which 193 are members of the United Nations, two have observer status at the UN (the Holy See and Palestine), and 11 others are neither a member nor observer at the UN. The latest proclaimed state is South Sudan since 2011.
The degree of autonomy of non-sovereign countries varies widely. Some are possessions of sovereign states, as several states have overseas territories (such as French Polynesia or the British Virgin Islands), with citizenry at times identical and at times distinct from their own. Such territories, with the exception of distinct dependent territories, are usually listed together with sovereign states on lists of countries, but may nonetheless be treated as a separate "country of origin" in international trade, as Hong Kong is.
A few states consist of a union of smaller polities which are considered countries:
Several organizations seek to identify trends in order to produce country classifications. Countries are often distinguished as developing countries or developed countries.
The United Nations
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs annually produces the World Economic Situation and Prospects report that classified states as developed countries, economies in transition, or developing countries. The report classifies country development based on per capita gross national income. Within the broad categories, the United Nations identified subgroups based on geographical location or ad hoc criteria. The UN outlines the geographical regions for developing economies as Africa, East Asia, South Asia, Western Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The 2019 report recognizes only developed countries in North America, Europe, and Asia and the Pacific. The majority of economies in transition and developing countries are found in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The UN additionally recognizes multiple trends that impact the developmental status of countries in the World Economic Situation and Prospects. The report highlights fuel-exporting and fuel-importing countries, as well as small island developing states and landlocked developing countries. It also identifies heavily indebted poor countries.
The World Bank
The World Bank also classifies countries based on GNI per capita. Using the World Bank Atlas method, it classifies countries as low-income economies, lower-middle-income economies, upper-middle-income economies, or high-income economies. For the 2020 fiscal year, the World Bank defines low-income economies as countries with a GNI per capita of $1,025 or less in 2018; lower middle-income economies as countries with a GNI per capita between $1,026 and $3,995; upper middle-income economies as countries with a GNI per capita between $3,996 and $12,375; high-income economies as countries with a GNI per capita of $12,376 or more.
It also identifies regional trends. The World Bank defines its regions as East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, North America, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Lastly, the World Bank distinguishes countries based on the operational policies of the World Bank. The three categories include International Development Association (IDA) countries, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) countries, and Blend countries.
Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period. GDP (nominal) per capita does not, however, reflect differences in the cost of living and the inflation rates of the countries; therefore using a basis of GDP per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) is arguably more useful when comparing living standards between nations, while nominal GDP is more useful comparing national economies on the international market.
A developed country, industrialized country, more developed country, or more economically developed country (MEDC), is a sovereign state that has a developed economy and advanced technological infrastructure relative to other less industrialized nations. Most commonly, the criteria for evaluating the degree of economic development are gross domestic product (GDP), gross national product (GNP), the per capita income, level of industrialization, amount of widespread infrastructure and general standard of living. Which criteria are to be used and which countries can be classified as being developed are subjects of debate.
A developing country is a country with a less developed industrial base and a low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is not universally agreed upon. There is also no clear agreement on which countries fit this category. A nation's GDP per capita compared with other nations can also be a reference point. In general, the United Nations accepts any country's claim of itself being "developing".
The category of newly industrialized country (NIC) is a socioeconomic classification applied to several countries around the world by political scientists and economists. They represent a subset of developing countries whose economic growth is much higher than other developing countries; and where the social consequences of industrialization, such as urbanization, are reorganizing society.
The economy of North America comprises more than 579 million people in its 23 sovereign states and 15 dependent territories. It is marked by a sharp division between the predominantly English speaking countries of Canada and the United States, which are among the wealthiest and most developed nations in the world, and countries of Central America and the Caribbean in the former Latin America that are less developed. Mexico and Caribbean nations of the Commonwealth of Nations are between the economic extremes of the development of North America.
The gross national income (GNI), previously known as gross national product (GNP), is the total domestic and foreign output claimed by residents of a country, consisting of gross domestic product (GDP), plus factor incomes earned by foreign residents, minus income earned in the domestic economy by nonresidents. Comparing GNI to GDP shows the degree to which a nation's GDP represents domestic or international activity. GNI has gradually replaced GNP in international statistics. While being conceptually identical, it is calculated differently. GNI is the basis of calculation of the largest part of contributions to the budget of the European Union. In February 2017, Ireland's GDP became so distorted from the base erosion and profit shifting ("BEPS") tax planning tools of U.S. multinationals, that the Central Bank of Ireland replaced Irish GDP with a new metric, Irish Modified GNI*. In 2017, Irish GDP was 162% of Irish Modified GNI*.
An emerging market is a market that has some characteristics of a developed market, but does not fully meet its standards. This includes markets that may become developed markets in the future or were in the past. The term "frontier market" is used for developing countries with smaller, riskier, or more illiquid capital markets than "emerging". The economies of China and India are considered to be the largest emerging markets. According to The Economist, many people find the term outdated, but no new term has gained traction. Emerging market hedge fund capital reached a record new level in the first quarter of 2011 of $121 billion. The four largest emerging and developing economies by either nominal or PPP-adjusted GDP are the BRIC countries.
The following table lists the independent European states, and their memberships in selected organisations and treaties.
The economy of the Middle East is very diverse, with national economies ranging from hydrocarbon-exporting rentiers to centralized socialist economies and free-market economies. The region is best known for oil production and export, which significantly impacts the entire region through the wealth it generates and through labor utilization. In recent years, many of the countries in the region have undertaken efforts to diversify their economies.
A high-income economy is defined by the World Bank as a country with a gross national income per capita of US$12,376 or more in 2018, calculated using the Atlas method. While the term "high-income" is often used interchangeably with "First World" and "developed country", the technical definitions of these terms differ. The term "first world" commonly refers to countries that aligned themselves with the U.S. and NATO during the Cold War. Several institutions, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or International Monetary Fund (IMF), take factors other than high per capita income into account when classifying countries as "developed" or "advanced economies". According to the United Nations, for example, some high-income countries may also be developing countries. The GCC countries, for example, are classified as developing high-income countries. Thus, a high-income country may be classified as either developed or developing. Although the Holy See is a sovereign state, it is not classified by the World Bank under this definition.
This article gives an overview about the income in India.
1 These countries are currently not participating in the EU's single market (EEA), but the EU has common external Customs Union agreements with Turkey, Andorra and San Marino. Monaco participates in the EU customs union through its relationship with France; its ports are administered by the French. Vatican City has a customs union in effect with Italy.
2 Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City are not members of Schengen, but act as such via their open borders with France and Italy, respectively.
3 Switzerland is not official member of EEA but has bilateral agreements largely with same content, making it virtual member.
—The following table lists the independent African states, and their memberships in selected organisations and treaties.