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# How Many Countries Are There, Anyway? by Jane P. Gardner and J. Elizabeth Mills

There are seven continents on Earth. They are Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. This book will look at each of the continents in more detail.

It's hard to answer how many countries there are because not everyone agrees. The United Nations is an organization that is made of 192 countries. The U.S. State Department recognizes 194 countries. Others place the grand total at 195 countries. It all depends on what you count as a country. For example, the United Nations does not recognize the Vatican or Kosovo as countries. The United States recognizes both the Vatican and Kosovo as countries but does not recognize Taiwan.

A count of 195 countries may result if England, Scotland, and Wales are all listed as separate countries. Others lump those three together with Northern Ireland into one country, the United Kingdom. Sounds confusing, doesn't it? Don't worry. You are not alone in your confusion! Just keep in mind that people have agreed to disagree about the number of countries and go from there. There is still a lot of fun stuff to learn about the world!

Maybe it is not important to have an exact number of countries. It is more important to know that there are many different countries on Earth, each with its own geography. Organizations may argue over what makes up a country, but the bottom line is that the world is full of different people, places, and things. That is what the study of geography is all about.

Finding the Distance

Find a map of your state or your hometown. Locate the map scale on the bottom. Then choose two places on your map that you want to determine the distance between. For example, you may want know how far it is from your house to the school. Or maybe you want to know how far it is from your hometown to your state's capital city. Use the map scale to determine the distance between those two points.