Young Pioneer Tours

Are Freely Associated States Countries?

Are freely associated states countries? When you travel with YPT the subject of what constitutes a country is regularly brought up. On this there tends to be a few different schools of thought, with the 193 (+2) club tending to be the purest and at time most zealous about the matter.

You see it is their belief that to be a country you must be in the United Nations. Although they also add Vatican City and Taiwan to this list, both of which are not.

One of the biggest problems here we feel is that by said logic the Peoples Republic of China was not a country until the 1970’s. North and South Korea in 1991 and Switzerland in 1994. They would also covertly believe that Guyana and Suriname counts as going somewhere whilst French Guiana is the same as visiting Brittany.

We won’t dwell on this, but we will present out list of what counts as a country.

What are freely associated states?

One interesting anomaly with this is states that are in some form of free association with another, almost exclusively larger nation. These states typically govern themselves, often have control ver foreign policy, but are under at least some form of protection, usually militarily from someone else.

Do these freely associated states count as countries though? Well interestingly while all have very much in common, not all are considered states by everyone, with sone being in the UN and some not.

And to be make things ultra complicated there are even almost fully independent states that are still considered integral parts of the host country! Lets explore the differences.

The Compact of Free Association States

Perhaps the most notable of this genre are the freely associated states of Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated Sates of Micronesia. These were acquired by the USA in the most part from the Japanese after World War 2, before gaining said Compact of Free Association in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

These are all United Nations members, but are still under enormous control by the United States, both politically and economically. Goods made here can say made in the USA, migration from one to the other is simple, while the US has heavy veto powers over them say, getting chummy with China.

Some have even opined that their existence is merely to give Taiwan votes in the UN, with all recognizing it over China. This was recently somewhat controversial after a leaked Palau communique pretty much admitted their colonial status.

Regardless of opinion though, we and most all recognize them as sovereigns states. They therefore differ from Guam, American Samoa and Saipan. Wallis and Fortuna would also come under this list.

Ironically Puerta Rico is technically a freely associated state, although the reality is that they are for all intents a colony of the United States.

Freely Associated States of New Zealand

The most famous “states” using the freely associated state moniker are this associated with New Zealand, chiefly the Cook Islands and Niue. Both of these states are represented in the United Nations to some degree, have their own foreign policy and immigration, as well as even their own sports teams. This perversely creates the situation where the Cook Islands for example is in FIFA, but Nauru is not.

These states enjoy just as much freedom as say Palau, but have not joined the UN because New Zealand have stated they would lose their right to Kiwi citizenship. Tokelau by contrast has failed in votes to become a freely associated state and is more akin to a colony still, although again with much autonomy.

We consider these freely associated states as countries by the YPT rules of engagement.

Self-governing members of bigger states

One alternative to freely associated states is to either be a party to a larger state through either a high degree of autonomy of full integration. This is a system largely used by France. This places “countries” such as French Polynesia as all, but independent, but other such as St Pierre and Miquelon as integral members of the Republic.

Similar systems are used by the Netherlands and Denmark, although as part of Kingdoms. In this instance some parts are integrated into the host country, while others are part of the wider “Kingdom”. Good examples of this are Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

And other “freely associated states”

For this we will provide two main examples! Firstly there are the British colonies, such as the Cayman Islands (where I once lived), as well as places like Bermuda and even the Isle of Man. These have all the benefits of an independent state, inclusive of passports and usually currency, but fall under the British Crown, rather than being members of the commonwealth. We count these as countries, but they are not technically freely associated states.

They would be though if are followed the second more liberal interpretation involves any form of political and military association, which counts almost every country in the world. Using this metric all of the European Union, as well as many other trade blocks would be linked.

This would also affect basically of the Pacific, save Tonga and Papua New Guinea, as well as Monaco, Liechtenstein and the like.

And it is with these points in mind that we firmly say that whether you are a UN state, a freely associated state, or one of the many other political bodies that make up gods green earth, what counts as a country is no simple matter……

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