A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated peoples with distinct political characteristics. 


A simple political map shows political boundaries of countries of the world. image: wikipedia

Regardless of the physical geography, in the modern internationally accepted legal definition as defined by the League of Nations in 1937 and reaffirmed by the United Nations in 1945, a resident of a country is subject to the independent exercise of legal jurisdiction.

Sometimes the word country is used to refer both to sovereign states and to other political entities, while other times it refers only to states. For example, the CIA World Factbook uses the word in its "Country name" field to refer to "a wide variety of dependencies, areas of special sovereignty, uninhabited islands, and other entities in addition to the traditional countries or independent states".

Origin of the word

The word country has developed from the Late Latin contra meaning "against", used in the sense of "that which lies against, or opposite to, the view", i.e. the landscape spread out to the view.

 From this came the Late Latin term contrata, which became the modern Italian contrada, and Provençal and French equivalents. In many ways this defined the agonistic world view of the early Christian identity in Europe.

 Several different senses of the term developed in Middle English from the 13th century, all reflecting a sense of either opposition, or occupation