Continent With the Most Countries 2022

map placeholder

Which continent has the most countries? If one assumes the Earth is divided into seven continents and lists the countries by continent according to the United Nations' membership list, the continent with the most countries is Africa.

How Many Countries Does Each Continent Have?

Continent Number of countries (U.N.)
Africa 54
Antarctica 0
Asia 46
Europe 46
North America 23
Oceania 14
South America 12

Alternate theories about countries and continents

It is important to recognize that the above totals are based upon a very specific set of definitions, which have a significant impact on the data. For example, while the most widely taught geological theory divides the Earth into seven continents, this is not a constant. Competing theories promote six, five, or even four-continent arrangements that may merge North and South America into a single continent called America; combine Europe and Asia into Eurasia; or fuse Europe, Asia, and Africa into a single supercontinent called Afro-Eurasia.

Similarly, due to the intricacies of international politics, the precise number of countries in the world is a surprisingly debatable topic. The United Nations (U.N.) membership list, which was used in compiling the above totals, currently recognizes 193 sovereign countries, two observer states (Vatican City and Palestine), and nearly 100 non-member territories. Meanwhile, the U.S. CIA considers several of those territories (such as Kosovo) to be countries in their own right, resulting in a list of 237 countries.

Obviously, these differences have an impact upon the number of countries in each of the world's continents—as do transcontinental countries such as Russia, which have land in multiple continents but are assigned to one continent or the other for rostering purposes.

Countries of Africa

Approximately 27% of the world's countries are located on just one continent: Africa. As of 2022, Africa has 54 U.N.-recognized countries on its 30.3 million km² (11.7 million mi²). The largest countries in Africa by area are Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan. Algeria is also the tenth-largest globally. The wealthiest of these countries are Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt. Africa is home to a large number of the world's developing, underdeveloped, and least-developed countries, with only its most-developed country, Mauritius, ranking above .800 in the Human Development Index.

Algeria Equatorial Guinea Madagascar Senegal
Angola Eritrea Malawi Seychelles
Benin Eswatini Mali Sierra Leone
Botswana Ethiopia Mauritania Somalia
Burkina Faso Gabon Mauritius South Africa
Burundi Gambia Morocco South Sudan
Cameroon Ghana Mozambique Sudan
Cape Verde Guinea Namibia Tanzania
Central African Republic Guinea-Bissau Niger Togo
Chad Ivory Coast Nigeria Tunisia
Comoros Kenya Rep. of the Congo Uganda
DR Congo Lesotho Rwanda Zambia
Djibouti Liberia Sao Tome and Principe Zimbabwe
Egypt Libya

Countries of Europe

Europe holds 46 U.N.-recognized countries in its 10,186,000 km² (9,932,836 mi²) of area. Seven of these countries are transcontinental, with territory in both Europe and Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkey. Of these, Cyprus, Russia, and Turkey are considered European. Europe also includes Kosovo, a prominent territory that wishes to secede from Serbia, but has thus far been unsuccessful in that pursuit.

Russia is both the largest country in Europe and the largest country in the world, spanning over 17 million km² (6.599 million mi²). Europe also includes several of the world's smallest, happiest, safest, and most environmentally friendly nations. The richest European countries are Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. Additionally, five European countries have the highest GDP per capita ratings in the world: Luxembourg, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, and Iceland.

Countries of Asia

The most populous continent in the world, Asia boasts more than 4.4 billion residents, spread across 46 U.N.-recognized countries (the same number as Europe) and approximately 44.5 million km² (17.2 million mi²) of area. Eight Asian countries are transcontinental. Seven have territory in both Europe and Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkey. Of these, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan are considered Asian. Asia's eighth transcontinental country is Egypt, which is predominantly located in Africa, but whose Sinai Peninsula is considered part of Asia.

Although Russia would technically be the largest country in Asia, it is typically considered a European country. As a result, China, India, and Kazakhstan are considered the largest countries in Asia. All three countries are also among the ten largest countries in the world.

Countries of North America

North America has a total of 23 U.N.-recognized countries and an area of just over 24,709,000 km² (9,540,000 mi²), which is inhabited by roughly 500 million people. The countries of Central America are generally considered part of North America, and so are included in its total. The largest countries in North America are Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Canada is the largest country in North America as well as the second-largest country globally, and the U.S. is the third-most populous country.

Countries of Oceania

Oceania spans over 8,525,989 km² (3,291,902 mi²) and is home to about 42.9 million people. There are a total of 14 U.N.-recognized countries in Oceania/Australia, all of which are island countries. Oceania's largest countries are Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand.

Countries of South America

The continent with the fewest countries (save Antarctica, which lacks permanent residents) is South America, which has just 12 U.N.-recognized nations within its 17,840,000 km² (6,890,000 mi²) area. The largest country in South America is Brazil, which also contains the majority of the Amazon rainforest, often referred to as the "lungs of the world". The next-largest countries in South America are Argentina and Peru.

As in Africa, many South American countries are still developing and may be quite poor compared to the high-income countries of Europe. However, many are nonetheless considered quite safe

Continent With the Most Countries 2022

Note: Countries with an entry in the 'Transcontinental' column are only counted on their primary continent. (Ex: Russia is counted with Europe, but is also transcontinental with Asia). The U.N. recognizes as countries 193 member states and two non-voting observer states (Vatican City and Palestine). However, there also exist dozens of unrecognized territories—Kosovo, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau in particular—which may or may not be considered countries by other sources, organizations, or governments.

Continent With the Most Countries 2022

Sources