This is a project that Owen Powell and Alex Horne started on October 24th, 2006 (United Nations Day), and finished on October 24th, 2007. Our aim was to prove that London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world, by endeavouring to meet and chat to a citizen from every country in the world who currently lives and works in London.

We managed to meet people from 189 countries. According to the UN, there are 192 countries in the world, so we've proved that at the very least, London contains over 98.4% of the nations of the world!


We are still looking for people from three countries:

Marshall Islands; Palau; Tuvalu.

The final encounters during our year appear below, but to follow our story from the start please click on the links under 'How we're doing' on the left-hand side.  The countries appear in the order in which we found their representative. (Any country with an asterisk * next to it has a brief account of the interview - longer versions will appear in the future!)

To find out more about the project, including our self-imposed rules, then click here.


Follow this link if you have the urge to see us looking awkward on Channel 4 news.  Or just below you can see us when we were half-way through the project being interviewed by George Alagiah on BBC World.


Please email us on worldinonecity@hotmail.com if you want to get in touch, or if you know any shy Londoners who are also Tuvaluan, Palauan or Marshallese.

George Alagiah interviews us on the BBC

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Mid-project Statistics

Some Facts And Figures About The World, Its Countries And Their Cities That We Have Discovered Since Commencing The Project

Alex Horne – 12th March 2007

What is a country?

An independent ‘country’ (or state) must adhere to the following eight criteria to legitimately earn its title. It must:

1. Have space or territory which has internationally recognized boundaries.
2. Have people who live there on an ongoing basis.
3. Have economic activity and an organized economy.
4. Have the power of social engineering, such as education.
5. Have a transportation system for moving goods and people.
6. Have a government which provides public services and police power.
7. Have sovereignty. No other State should have power over the country's territory.
8. Have external recognition by other countries.

'Nations’ are culturally homogeneous groups of people, larger than a single tribe or community, which share a common language, institutions, religion, and historical experience.

When a nation of people have a country of their own, it is called a nation-state. Places like France, Egypt, Germany, Japan, and New Zealand are excellent examples of nation-states.

There are some countries which have two nations, such as Canada and Belgium.

There are some nations, such as the Kurds, who do not have their own countries.

The Vatican City does count as a country according to the rules stated above, however it has chosen not to become a member of the U.N. The United States’ State Department recognizes The Vatican City as a country.

It does not, however, recognize Taiwan, which was a member of the United Nations (and even the Security Council) until 1971, when mainland China replaced Taiwan in the organization. Taiwan is therefore not officially a country and while it continues to press for full recognition by other countries, to become "part of the club" and fully recognized worldwide, China claims that Taiwan is simply a province of China.

There are dozens of territories and colonies that are sometimes erroneously called ‘countries’ but don't count at all because they're governed by other countries. Places commonly confused as being countries include Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Greenland, Palestine, Western Sahara, Hong Kong, and the components of the United Kingdom (such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England).

How many countries are there?

There are 193 countries in the world, 192 of which are in the U.N.

North America contains just three (or 1.5%) of the world’s countries: Canada, Mexico and the United States of America.

Africa has over a quarter of all the countries in the world with 53. Not one is a veto wielding state at the UN. Similarly, Japan contributes to the regular UN budget more than UK, France, Russia and China combined yet has no veto.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council (who are, in effect, in charge of the world) are the UK, the USA, France, Russia and China. These were also the leading countries amongst the allies who won World War II. There is no coincidence. The world is more or less governed by a system of ‘winner-stays-on’.

The islands of the Caribbean can be divided into 26 regions – 13 are independent countries, while 13 are territories with euphemistic names (dependencies, overseas collectives and commonwealths) that are controlled by the UK, France, the Netherlands or the USA.

How do old countries become new countries?

Basutoland: Lesotho's name prior to 1966.
Bengal: An independent kingdom from 1338-1539, now part of Bangladesh and India.
Burma: Burma officially changed its name to Myanmar in 1989 but many countries still aren't recognizing the change, such as the United States.
Corsica: This Mediterranean island was ruled by various nations over the course of history but had several brief periods of independence.
Hawaii: Though a kingdom for hundreds of years, Hawaii wasn't recognized as an independent country until the 1840s. The country was annexed to the U.S. in 1898.
Prussia: Became a kingdom in 1660, at greatest extent it included the northern two-thirds of Germany and western Poland. Prussia, by World War II a federal unit of Germany, was fully disbanded at the end of World War II.
Rhodesia: Zimbabwe was known as Rhodesia (named after British diplomat Cecil Rhodes) prior to 1980.
Siam: Changed its name to Thailand in 1939.
Southwest Africa: Gained independence and became Namibia in
Tanganyika and Zanzibar: These two African countries united in 1964 to form Tanzania.
Tibet: A kingdom established in the 7th century, Tibet was invaded by China in 1950 and has since been known as the Xizang Autonomous Region of China.
Western Samoa: Changed its name to Samoa in 1998.
Yugoslavia: The original Yugoslavia divided up into Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia in the early 1990s.
Zaire: Changed its name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997.

32 new countries have been created since 1990. Fifteen became independent with the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. Yugoslavia dissolved in the early 1990s into five independent countries. Nine others became independent through a variety of different causes. The youngest countries in the world are Serbia and Montenegro. (The “and” in the previous sentence used to be part of the whole country’s name, but is now just a word linking two individual countries). Montenegro and Serbia have only existed since June 2006. Kosovo may become independent of Serbia during the course of our project, which would be lovely for Kosovars, but more work for us.

The ten smallest countries:

1. Vatican City - 0.2 square miles - The world's smallest state, the Vatican has a population of 770, none of whom are permanent residents.

2. Monaco - 0.7 square miles - An impressive 32,000 people live in this state known for its Monte Carlo casinos and Princess Grace. It has been independent off-and-on since the 13th century.

3. Nauru - 8.5 square miles - The 13,000 residents of the Pacific island Nauru rely on diminishing phosphate deposits. The state became independent in 1968 and was formerly known as Pleasant Island.

4. Tuvalu - 9 square miles - Tuvalu is composed of 9 coral atolls along a 360 mile chain in Polynesia. They gained independence in 1978. The former Ellice Islands are home to 12,000.

5. San Marino - 24 square miles - Located on Mt. Titano in north central Italy, San Marino has 29,000 residents. The country claims to be the oldest state in Europe, having been founded in the fourth century.

6. Liechtenstein - 62 square miles - This microstate of 34,000 is located on the Rhine River between Switzerland and Austria in the Alps.

7. Marshall Islands - 70 square miles - The atolls (including the world's largest, Kwajalein), reefs, and 34 islands (population 58,000) gained independence in 1986; they were formerly part of the Trust Territory of Pacific Islands (and administered by the United States).

8. Saint Kitts and Nevis - 104 square miles - This Caribbean country of 39,000 gained independence in 1983. Nevis is the smaller island of the two and is guaranteed the right to secede.

9. Seychelles - 107 square miles - The 81,000 residents of this Indian Ocean island group have been independent of the United Kingdom since 1976.

10. Maldives - 115 square miles - Only 200 of the 2000 Indian Ocean islands which make up this country are occupied by 340,000 residents. The islands gained independence from the U.K. in 1965.

Seven surprisingly large countries, with their ranking in the overall list:

9th largest: Kazakhstan: 2,717,300 km2 (1,048,877 mi2)
10th largest: Sudan: 2,505,810 km2 (967,243 mi2)
11th largest:Algeria: 2,381,740 km2 (919,352 mi2)
12th largest: Congo, Democratic Republic of the: 2,345,410 km2 (905,328 mi2)
15th largest: Indonesia: 1,919,440 km2 (740,904 mi2)
16th largest: Libya: 1,759,540 km2 (679,182 mi2)
17th largest: Iran: 1,648,000 km2 (636,128 mi2)

Twenty Four Cities that have all claimed to be the ‘Most Cosmopolitan City in the World’: (according to Google)

15. GENEVA (for its size)
16. CONSTANTINOPLE (in the 6th century)
17. XIAN (in the 8th century)
18. BAGHDAD (in the 11th century)
19. HANGZHOU (in the 13th century)
20. GOA (in the 16th century)
21. VIENNA (in Freud’s time)
22. NEW ORLEANS (in the 19th century)
23. ALEXANDRIA (in the colonial era)
24. PARIS (early 20th century)

Some of the methods adopted so far by Alex and Owen to prove that London is currently the ‘Most Cosmopolitan City in the World’:

1. We knocked on every door of Alex’s street and met many neighbours for the first time including a gentleman from India.

2. We accepted flyers from flyerers on Oxford Circus and ended up meeting a tennis-loving Hare Krishna devotee from Croatia, a Bangladeshi Pizza Hut publicist and a Mauritian assistant in an English Language School.

3. We were guided through Peckham by our Ghanaian representative who introduced us to people from Afghanistan and Kurdistan (which, unfortunately, we cannot accept as a country).

4. We attended the third Russian Winter Festival in Trafalgar Square and the forty first Superbowl in London’s Hard Rock Café.

5. We ate at least one meal a month in exotic restaurants and convinced the self-appointed Cape Verdean ambassador to organize an international barbecue.

6. We approached every person in Charing Cross Station, the epicentre of London, and met a girl from Poland selling flowers and a boy from Israel selling hand-warmers.

7. We watched a lot of international sporting fixtures.

8. We spoke up in a silent tube train and asked if anyone was from Comoros. We did not meet anyone from Comoros.


Benjamin Partridge said...

I'm not sure one can count New Zealand as an excellent example of a nation-state on account of the Maori/White divide and the fact that it is a destination for massive immigration. None of the 'New World' states such as NZ, Australia, Canada etc. can be defined as nation states. I'm not sure you could define France as a nation-state either.

It's a term that is often used synonymously with 'state' but there are very few true nation-states in the world.

Geoff said...

You probably should amend your criteria list a bit there - Taiwan is recognised by 23 UN members as independent, as well as by the Vatican city, so it meets all of your criteria seeing as you don't define how many countries a country needs to be recognised by to count as Independent.

Benjamin Partridge said...

Yeh... and Western Sahara is recognized by the African Union, and Palestine is recognized by the Arab League.

Also, your points here -

3. Have economic activity and an organized economy.
4. Have the power of social engineering, such as education.
5. Have a transportation system for moving goods and people.
6. Have a government which provides public services and police power.

don't apply to some countries such as Somalia that while having legal sovereignty over the territory, have little de facto control.

A better criterion is UN membership.