The Atlantic

Why Aren't There More New Countries?

Catalonia and Kurdistan show demands for self-determination aren’t enough.
Source: Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

What is a country? Is it a place like the United States that is recognized by all other countries and is a member of the United Nations? Is it, like Kosovo, a place that is recognized by most of the world’s powers but isn’t a UN member? Where does Taiwan, which has its own government and its own military despite being claimed by China, fit? And where does all this leave places like Catalonia and Iraqi Kurdistan, many of whose citizens have voted to secede over the objections of the countries they’re currently part of?

“Really, when we’re talking about a country, we’re talking about a political territory with a population, a government, and legally recognized boundaries that indicate or

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