It seems that we can't all just enjoy a gentle game of "who's been to the most places". No, everyone has to argue hotly about who has actually visited where and whether or not they can count "that place that they flew over on the way to somewhere else that they stayed in transit for quite long enough to count....".
Here are a few rulings:
The Turkish Replublic of Cyprus is not an Independent State since the only country who recognises it as such is Turkey. Dammit.
The West Bank is not a Territory of Israel since it adjoins Israel and is not formally an independent state. Same goes for the Gaza strip. Sorry, Jane. I could have counted it, too.
Matthew and Lucy didn't visit Mongolia by simply stepping onto the platform of a railway station there. No.
In possibly the most unpopular ruling ever, Hong Kong ceased to count as a separate entity from 1997. A visit to Hong Kong is just a visit to China whether you went before or after the British handed it back.
Macau will cease to count from 1999 (although it will count as visit to China, instead). Bad luck
The Canary Islands are politically regarded as provinces of Spain.
Rodriguez is part of Mauritius. Both Ross and Barbara tried for an extra point for this (as if they haven't got enough points already).
Jane Rowley wrote to ask if she could count Botswana which she visited unofficially, not crossing through immigration but out in the bush past the country boundary marking poles. Well since she did do this in order to see something, I suppose so.
There are a number of far-away Islands that are owned by a country but administered in that country's capital rather than locally. These are counted as dependencies rather than full-fledged territories. Examples are Heard and McDonald Islands owned by Australian, Jan Mayen owned by Norway and a number of Pacific islands owned by the USA e.g. Baker Island, e.g. Johnston Atoll. OK, so no-one's been to any of these yet....
Antarctica counts as just one territory whichever part you visit. It's ownership is disputed and there is a special political treaty governing it so this seems the fairest way. Since a visit to the British portion of Antarctica would otherwise count for two points, you only get the British Antarctic Territory if you visit the South Orkney Islands or South Shetland Islands. Similarly, you only get the French Southern and Antarctic Lands if you visit the Iles of Amsterdam, Saint Paul, Crozet or Kerguelen.
Undecided: As at 8/98, not sure about Bouvet Island, Svalbard (are they Norwegian dependencies or territories?). Azores, Madeira, similarly. Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands are disputed at present. However, not too worried about this as I'm not aware of any of these places being on anyone's travel plans for the forseeable future.
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