How to Track World Travel
There are normal travelers and then there are obsessed world travelers. Some people collect world stamps, while others collect passport stamps. Some collect world coins by mail, while others collect world coins in person in each country they travel too.
Most people who love world travel eventually start counting up the places they have visited. A traveler can count countries, UN countries, territories, World Heritage Sites, or follow other established online lists.
For those travelers who want to find out how much of the world they have visited there are several online lists to measure against. Try each online list and see what online traveler's list you are most comfortable with, or go for all the places on all the online traveler's lists.
The place to start on the quest to cover the world is to tick off all the UN Countries you have visited. The UN website is a good place to get the current UN Country list, but as of spring 2011 here are the UN countries with date they joined the United Nations
Antigua and Barbuda 11-11-1981
Bolivia (Plurinational State of) 14-11-1945
Bosnia and Herzegovina 22-05-1992
Brunei Darussalam 21-09-1984
Burkina Faso 20-09-1960
Cape Verde 16-09-1975
Central African Republic 20-09-1960
Costa Rica 02-11-1945
Côte D'Ivoire 20-09-1960
Czech Republic 19-01-1993
Democratic People's Republic of Korea 17-09-1991
Democratic Republic of the Congo 20-09-1960
Dominican Republic 24-10-1945
El Salvador 24-10-1945
Equatorial Guinea 12-11-1968
Guinea Bissau 17-09-1974
Iran (Islamic Republic of) 24-10-1945
Lao People’s Democratic Republic 14-12-1955
Marshall Islands 17-09-1991
Micronesia (Federated States of) 17-09-1991
New Zealand 24-10-1945
Papua New Guinea 10-10-1975
Republic of Korea 17-09-1991
Republic of Moldova 02-03-1992
Russian Federation 24-10-1945
Saint Kitts and Nevis 23-09-1983
Saint Lucia 18-09-1979
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 16-09-1980
San Marino 02-03-1992
Sao Tome and Principe 16-09-1975
Saudi Arabia 24-10-1945
Sierra Leone 27-09-1961
Solomon Islands 19-09-1978
South Africa 07-11-1945
Southern Sudan 07-14-2011
Sri Lanka 14-12-1955
Syrian Arab Republic 24-10-1945
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 08-04-1993
Trinidad and Tobago 18-09-1962
United Arab Emirates 09-12-1971
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 24-10-1945
United Republic of Tanzania 14-12-1961
United States of America 24-10-1945
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 15-11-1945
Viet Nam 20-09-1977
The United Nations defines itself by a list of member states that, for the most part, recognize each other or at least have broad international recognition. There are about 192 "UN Countries" but the number changes with world events as countries split , combine, or gain independance and recognition.
Countries become recognized as countries when other sovereign countries recognize the existence of a government with defined borders and control of their territory. Prior to being recognized countries, areas are typically part of some other country, a colony, dependent, territory, or perhaps separate countries that amalgamate to form a new country.
The UN list is not complete however. A short list of countries are not on UN members but exercise exclusive control over territory and are widely regarded as countries:
Republic of China (Taiwan)
Now at 16 locations, the UN List of Non-Self Governing Territories is a much reduced list of colonized locations. Most of the countries in Africa were formerly on the list, as well as many other places that moved to the UN Country List as they achieved independence. It seems unlikely that the Non-Self Governing list will result in many more countries since the remaining locations are all very small and most are very happy to be tied to a larger country.
Western Sahara is disputed, with most of the usable areas of the territory occupied by Morroco.
|Area (sq.km.)||Population 1|
|ATLANTIC AND CARIBBEAN|
|British Virgin Islands||United Kingdom||153||24,939|
|Cayman Islands||United Kingdom||260||50,209|
|Falkland Islands (Malvinas)4||United Kingdom||11,961||3,140|
|St. Helena||United Kingdom||122||7,670|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||United Kingdom||430||23,528|
|United States Virgin Islands||United States||340||109,750|
|PACIFIC AND INDIAN OCEANS|
|American Samoa||United States||197||66,432|
Overseas Departments and Similar Areas
France mantained parts of its colonial empire by incorporating the territories into the country. It is a little hard to say that visiting Tahiti is the same as counting a visit to Paris, but according to the preceeding lists visiting either Paris or Tahiti would allow you to tick off France. Also none of Antartica is on the UN lists, yet visiting Antartica should count for something. This kind of problem lead to the creation of some extended lists.
Travelers Century Club
Travelers Century Club was started in 1954 in Los Angeles as a group that well traveled people could join and socialize together. TCC promotes peace through understanding each other through travel. Full membership is restricted to travelers who have visited 100 (a century) countries on the list.
There are about 319 "TCC Countries" and the list is updated by a club committee from time to time to reflect changes in the world political landscape. Kosovo was a recent addition for example. Anyone can visit the TCC website and tick off the "countries" they have visited. A few people have completed the whole TCC list.
The TCC list has more locations then the UN list because they count locations that "are removed from parent, either geographically, politically or ethnologically" For example - Tahiti is technically part of France, but it is silly to visit Paris and say that is the same as visiting Tahiti or vice versa. However as noted above, France, including its overseas departments, colonies, and possessions counts just once on the UN List. Ceuta, an North African portion of Spain is another such oddity included on the TCC list.
Most Traveled Person
The Most Traveled Person website has an even longer list that includes sub-national states and remote uninhabited islands. One can review and tick off against this much more comprehensive list. No one has finished the whole Most Traveled Person list.
"On the road to everywhere" defines the MTP site as the list breaks many countries down into states, provinces, and regions. Currently at 773 locations to visit, the list is updated through a site member nomination and voting process. Charles A Veley is the founder of Most Traveled Persons and can generally be found at the top of the list of prolific travelers.
The MTP site also automatically calculates a traveler's UN Country count from its master list. Another feature allows users to check off against the World Heritage Site List.
However you decide to keep track of your travel, make your wonderings a time to build friendships, increase understanding and learn as much as you can about your world.