World Government - 2021


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

Country name

note: countries with names connected to animals include: Albania "Land of the Eagles," Anguilla (the name means "eel"), Bhutan "Land of the Thunder Dragon," Cameroon (the name derives from "prawns"), Cayman Islands (named after the caiman, a marine crocodile), Faroe Islands (from Old Norse meaning "sheep"), Georgia "Land of the Wolves," Italy "Land of Young Cattle," Kosovo "Field of Blackbirds," Sierra Leone "Lion Mountains," Singapore "Lion City"


time difference: there are 21 World entities (20 countries and 1 dependency) with multiple time zones: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, France, Greenland (part of the Danish Kingdom), Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Russia, Spain, United States

note 1: in some instances, the time zones pertain to portions of a country that lie overseas

note 2: in 1851, the British set their prime meridian (0° longitude) through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England; this meridian became the international standard in 1884 and thus the basis for the standard time zones of the world; today, GMT is officially known as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and is also referred to as "Zulu time"; UTC is the basis for all civil time, with the world divided into time zones expressed as positive or negative differences from UTC

note 3: each time zone is based on 15° starting from the prime meridian; in theory, there are 24 time zones based on the solar day, but there are now upward of 40 because of fractional hour offsets that adjust for various political and physical geographic realities; see the Standard Time Zones of the World map included with the Reference Maps

daylight saving time: some 67 countries - including most of the world's leading industrialized nations - use daylight savings time (DST) in at least a portion of the country; China, Japan, India, and Russia are major industrialized countries that do not use DST; Asia and Africa generally do not observe DST and it is generally not observed near the equator, where sunrise and sunset times do not vary enough to justify it; some countries observe DST only in certain regions; for example, only southeastern Australia observes it; in fact, only a minority of the world's population - about 20% - uses DST

Administrative divisions

195 countries, 71 dependent areas and other entities

Legal system

the legal systems of nearly all countries are generally modeled upon elements of five main types: civil law (including French law, the Napoleonic Code, Roman law, Roman-Dutch law, and Spanish law); common law (including English and US law); customary law; mixed or pluralistic law; and religious law (including Islamic sharia law); an additional type of legal system - international law - governs the conduct of independent nations in their relationships with one another

International law organization participation

all members of the UN are parties to the statute that established the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or World Court; states parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICCt) are those countries that have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the Court; as of May 2019, a total of 122 countries have accepted jurisdiction of the ICCt (see Appendix B for a clarification on the differing mandates of the ICJ and ICCt)

Executive branch

chief of state: there are 27 countries with royal families in the world, most are in Asia (13) and Europe (10), three are in Africa, and one in Oceania; monarchies by continent are as follows: Asia (Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates); Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom); Africa (Eswatini, Lesotho, Morocco); Oceania (Tonga); note that Andorra and the Holy See (Vatican) are also monarchies of a sort, but they are not ruled by royal houses; Andorra has two co-princes (the president of France and the bishop of Urgell) and the Holy See is ruled by an elected pope; note too that the sovereign of Great Britain is also the monarch for many of the countries (including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand) that make up the Commonwealth

Legislative branch

there are 230 political entities with legislative bodies; of these 144 are unicameral (a single “house”) and 86 are bicameral (both upper and lower houses); note - while there are 195 countries in the world, 35 territories, possessions, or other special administrative units also have their own governing bodies

Flag description

while a "World" flag does not exist, the flag of the United Nations (UN) - adopted on 7 December 1946 - has been used on occasion to represent the entire planet; technically, however, it only represents the international organization itself; the flag displays the official emblem of the UN in white on a blue background; the emblem design shows a map of the world in an azimuthal equidistant projection centered on the North Pole, the image is flanked by two olive branches crossed below; blue was selected as the color to represent peace, in contrast to red usually associated with war; the map projection chosen includes all of the continents except Antarctica

note: the flags of 12 nations: Austria, Botswana, Georgia, Jamaica, Japan, Laos, Latvia, Micronesia, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Switzerland, and Thailand have no top or bottom and may be flown with either long edge on top without any notice being taken

National anthem

name: virtually every country has a national anthem; most (but not all) anthems have lyrics, which are usually in the national or most common language of the country; states with more than one national language may offer several versions of their anthem

note: the world's oldest national anthem is the "Het Wilhelmus" (The William) of the Netherlands, which dates to the 17th century; the first national anthem to be officially adopted (1795) was "La Marseillaise" (The Song of Marseille) of France; Japan claims to have the world's shortest national anthem, entitled "Kimigayo" (The Emperor's Reign), it consists of 11 measures of music (the lyrics are also the world's oldest, dating to the 10th century or earlier); the world's longest national anthem is that of Greece, "Ymnos eis tin Eleftherian" (Hymn to Liberty) with 158 stanzas - only two of which are used; both Denmark and New Zealand have two official national anthems

NOTE: The information regarding World on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of World 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about World 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.