If you look at the official Travelers’ Century Club Countries list, you will see that there are many “countries” listed that aren’t countries at all. Here’s the official explanation: “Although some are not actually countries in their own right, they have been included because they are removed from parent, either geographically, politically or ethnologically.” This makes sense to a certain extent. For example, the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe is a French Region, and therefore is politically just as French as being in Paris itself. As a tropical island half a world away, though, it is certainly a much different place. Some of the selections, however, don’t make much sense to me.
Here is my breakdown of some of the places on the official list that I don’t think should really count as their own separate country. This doesn’t mean that they are unworthy of a visit. More importantly, we will still be counting them for our overall count.
Prince Edward Island (Canada): Prince Edward Island is one of Canada’s maritime provinces, located along Canada’s Atlantic coast. Although it is indeed its own separate island, the land of Ann of Green Gables is nonetheless a very short boat ride away from the neighboring provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Furthermore, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is much more remote than P.E.I. I am unaware of any ethnological difference between P.E.I. and the rest of English-speaking Canada. If I were drafting the list, I would have listed Quebec as a separate country due to its distinct political and linguistic history. So if you are playing the home version of Conquering the Century Club, go ahead and go to P.E.I. and enjoy the mussels, because it counts as another country.
Antarctica: The frozen continent of the south pole has an interesting and ambiguous political history. Different countries have claimed different areas at different times. Under the Antarctic treaty system, the continent has no government, and is only to be used for scientific purposes. The Century Club, however, recognizes as individual “countries” seven separate districts that have been claimed by various nations. Give me a break. No government controls the continent, and the penguins haven’t set up a passport control station yet. The whole continent should count as only one country, and the Falkland Islands can be another.
Turkey in Europe/Turkey in Asia: I get it, I get it. Turkey is historically where Asia meets Europe. In Istanbul, you can cross continents by walking over a bridge. How cute. In my book, you should not be able to knock out two countries by one visit to Constantinople. If you really want to knock out two countries in close proximity, it would be a lot more fun to do a Greek Cyprus/Turkish Cyprus trip. Those guys get along great.
Finally, we will note one last Official Century Club rule that we will not be observing. Under the Official Rules, a country counts as being “visited” if you make the slightest stop there, including a port of call or an airplane refueling stop. We think that the visit should be more substantial than that. Therefore, in order for a country to count, you have to actually set foot in the country outside of the airport/seaport/railroad station.