I have been pondering over this for a long time now. It has come up in my conversations with fellow travelers and with randoms on Twitter. I also talked about it with my mom and then with some of my friends. I looked it up on Google..... nope, still no consensus on the topic.
WTF do you count as a 'visited country' when telling people where you've been to?
This seems to be the equivalent of asking the NFL what a catch is. (shade, SHAAADE) No, but seriously, the variety in answers to my proposed question was pretty wild. Due to colonization and just the general makeup of overseer countries and their holdings abroad - deciding what to count in your numbers of places visited seems to be really complicated.
I wrote a blog post before titled 'The First Twenty Five Countries' reminiscing on the places I had been to. It was stupid listing that I had been to France and Britain. Why? Because I had NEVER stepped a foot into either country. However, I had been to St. Barts (French) and Anguilla (British). I am ashamed to say that I initially got my 'what is a country?' info from the U.S. State Department page. On their page, neither Anguilla nor St. Barts are listed as an actual country, they are listed under the 'Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty' page. Okay, so I was politically correct saying that I had been to France and Britain because I had entered one of their foreign dependencies. I still don't feel correct saying it.
Then I stumbled upon the 'Travelers Century Club' which is a social organization representing world travelers who have visited 100 or more of the world's countries and territories'. You catch that last word? TERRITORIES. For their members, they counted territories as places visited. I was thrilled. Therefore, Anguilla, St. Maarten and St. Barts were now to be a part of my total and I would remove France and Britain. This was all fine and dandy until I actually looked at this clubs' OFFICIAL alphabetical list of countries and territories. A total of 325. What? There are only like 195 countries in the world, how did they get 325 even WITH territories? So I read their official list.
Gems I found:
- Bosnia is separated from Herzegovina
- Trinidad is separated from Tobago
- St. Maarten is separated from St. Martin
- Puerto Rico is separated from the United States
- Bali is separated from Indonesia
How the f....??? Come on now. I don't need to pad my stats so bad to separate actual countries into pieces. If this is how people get to their century marks, I want NO part of it. I don't travel to boost any number, I just travel because I enjoy doing it.
I asked my boyfriend about what he thinks constitutes a country visited and he said to me, 'I don't travel that much but it seems these numbers are just used to boost peoples egos.' Thanks honey.
The only conclusion I have come to is that it really will differ from person to person. For me, I think it is ridiculous to go to somewhere like Bermuda (NOT on the State Dept. list of countries) and be like 'yeah so I visited England basically.' Nah. That doesn't work for me at all. These places have their own culture and way of life, so British, how?
Therefore I changed my # of countries from 28 to 29. I removed England and France from the list and instead listed St. Maarten, Anguilla and St. Barts. I guess this may not be politically correct, but anyone who knows me personally would say I've never been one to be politically correct anyways.
Let me know your opinions in the comments!