What is meant by special status

What is a country

Hong Kong and Macau

Strictly speaking, Hong Kong and Macau are two partially-administered areas of China with a special status. But Hong Kong and Macau have their own legislation (admittedly influenced by China), their own tax system and when you enter or leave the country, you get a Hong Kong or Macau stamp stamped on your passport. If you drive from one of the two areas to the other or to China, you leave and re-enter China with another stamp.

Both countries have their own currency that is independent of China. Both countries have their own telephone prefixes, license plates and internet domains. In Macau, one of the official languages ​​is Portuguese. And both areas have their own country codes according to ISO, STANAG, United Nations and Fips. Therefore, Hong Kong and Macau are treated as separate countries.


Kosovo is currently the youngest country, which previously comprised parts of Yugoslavia and Serbia. In 2008 independence from Serbia was declared. Wikipedia still speaks of a "stabilized de facto regime". However, there are currently (October 2020) no officially assigned ISO codes for Kosovo. The codes XK and XKX are widely used, but not official. On the other hand, more than half of the member states of the United Nations have already recognized the "Republic of Kosovo" as an independent state. There is also its own country code, domain ending and its own license plate.

West Bank and Gaza Strip

Both areas are considered by the CIA with their own data, as if they were individual states and the German Wikipedia names "Gaza City" as the capital of the Gaza Strip. The ISO code "PS" given there, however, refers to Palestine. Both regions do not have their own legislation, currencies, telephone prefixes, license plates, country domains or their own codes according to ISO 3166-1. Both regions are also under the administration of the Palestinian Authority. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are therefore only autonomous areas of Palestine for the time being, but not separate countries.

Germany and other EU countries

At first glance, it may seem surprising that Germany appears in this list of questionable states. However, independent legislation is severely restricted by the influence of the European Union. The German government, like other governments within the European Union, cannot even decide on a car toll without receiving infringement proceedings from the EU. As the discussion about the "cookie directive" showed, even an EU directive can automatically become a law in this country if it is formulated clearly enough in Brussels.

Its own legislation is in theory still influenced by the former allies. The current two-plus-four treaty contains, for example, clauses that clearly limit military changes. The constitution and parts of the Basic Law may not be changed either. Germany is de facto not an independent and autonomous state, although 1955 is officially given as the year of independence.

On the year of independence: The allied right of reservation was only ended in 1991 with the "Two-plus-Four Treaty". Until then, the former allies could veto any law. Even if this right was not exercised, such a circumstance contradicts an independence status. 1955 (instead of 1991) is specified by the federal government as the year of independence.

Nevertheless, Germany and other EU states meet all other requirements. There were or are their own currencies, laws limited by national borders, their own tax systems, financial budgets and the states are recognized as such by most UN countries.

Guam and other US territories

The head of state of Guam is the President of the United States, the currency is the US dollar, and even the chief judges are appointed by the White House in Washington. Citizens are officially citizens of the United States of America. On the other hand, however, there is an "internal autonomy", each of which has its own national flag and formal peculiarities such as its own internet domains and country codes according to ISO, STANAG, United Nations and Fips. Even the CIA lists Guam as "non-incorporated territory of the United States with political ties between Guam and the United States" - something that does not belong to the United States. For Laenderdaten.info, it was crucial to classify it as a "country" because it was assigned the ISO code according to 3166-1.


Antarctica is not an independent or even an autonomous country. Roughly speaking, it consists of a bunch of research institutions from various other countries. Officially there were 2 residents until a few years ago, but it was nowhere to be found what an Antarctic passport looked like or who (apart from the two holders) could have carried out a passport control. However, the Antarctic is listed as a country in the German Weather Service in order to assign the measuring stations there. There is even a domain extension of its own (aq). Antarctica also has its own country codes according to ISO, STANAG, United Nations and Fips, which ultimately led to the ice masses becoming a "country" on Laenderdaten.info.

Non-independent countries without political sovereignty

The following local authorities are treated as countries, but are dependent areas of other countries: