There are 195 recognised countries in the world, according to the United Nations.
193 of these are member states of the United Nations, while two countries are non-member observer states.
These are the Vatican City and the State of Palestine.
As the year 2023 gradually draws to a close, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) embarks on a cursory review of some of the major events that took place around the world in the course of the year.
The earthquake in Turkey and Syria: More than 67,000 people were killed after a series of devastating tremors hit parts of Turkey and neighbouring Syria early on Feb. 6.
Thousands of buildings tumbled down, trapping tens of thousands of residents. Most of the damage was done by the 7.8 and 7.7 magnitude quakes that struck Antakya within hours.
It is estimated to be the largest earthquake in Turkey since 1939.
An estimated 59,000 people in southern and central Turkey were killed while more than 8,000 citizens in war-torn Syria perished.
The historic cities of Sanliurfa and Aleppo were among those affected.
India’s population overtakes that of China: India’s estimated population overtook that of China, becoming the world’s most populous country early this year.
The UNFPA’s State of World Population Report 2023 confirmed that India’s estimated population was 142.86 crore, marginally ahead of China at 142.57 crore.
India’s population is also largely young, with 68 per cent being between the ages of 15 and 64 years, which is considered the working population of a country.
About 25 per cent is between 0-14 years; 18 per cent between 10 and 19 years, 26 per cent between 10 and 24 years, and 7 per cent above 65 years.
The lost submersible: The Titan submersible carrying five people onboard imploded in the North Atlantic Ocean on June 18.
The submersible was part of a deep sea extreme tourism mission to visit the 111-year-old wreckage of the Titanic more than 12,000 feet underwater.
After days of gruelling search and rescue mission, officials confirmed that a debris field was found around 500m away from the bow of the Titanic that was consistent with that of the 22-foot submersible.
Passengers onboard were Stockton Rush, the Chief Executive Officer of OceanGate, the company that ran and designed the expedition, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French deep-sea explorer and Titanic expert, Hamish Harding, a British businessman, Shahzada Dawood, a Pakistani-British businessman, and his son Suleman.
Russia-Ukraine war spills into second year: More than a year after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the war continued with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy scrambling to mobilise a continuous supply of soldiers and weapons as key allies, Europe and America, slowed down the funding due to changes in internal politics.
Although there is no concrete information on the number of casualties, UN estimates say that more than 10,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed.
A New York Times report said that more than 5 lakh Ukrainian and Russian soldiers have been killed so far.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has maintained that the war will go on unless Kyiv does a deal that takes Moscow’s security concerns into account.
“Either we get an agreement, agree on certain parameters (on the size and strength of Ukraine’s military)… or we solve this by force. This is what we will strive for,” he said.
Imran Khan’s arrest and Nawaz Sheriff’s return: The year 2022-2023 was an eventful period for Imran Khan.
The cricketer-turned-politician, who was removed from Pakistan’s Prime Minister post via a no-confidence motion in April 2022, was arrested and jailed in the Toshakhana case, in which he is accused of not disclosing details of expensive gifts received while in office.
Khan’s arrest was followed by days of drama in which his supporters clashed with law enforcement, including storming the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the Corps Commander’s residence in Lahore.
Meanwhile, the events also cleared the way for the return of former PM Nawaz Sharif, who was under exile in London for four years.
His return just as the general elections are scheduled to take place early next year, is widely seen as a precursor for another stab at power.
The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas: The ongoing Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza has killed no fewer than 20,000 Palestinians as of the time of writing this report, wounded tens of thousands more, and displaced 90 per cent of the 2.3 million residents of the besieged enclave.
The current conflict was triggered by the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, in which 1,200 Israelis were gunned down in their homes, at a music festival and other public places by militants who overcame the country’s famed security and intelligence measures.
The attack left thousands wounded and over 240 others were taken hostage, of which about half have been released as a part of a temporary ceasefire earlier this month.
Meanwhile, in a bid to stop the war, the United Nations had taken a series of extraordinary measures, including the triggering of Article 99 of the UN Charter.
A Dec. 13 a United Nations General Assembly vote demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the conflict was adopted with an overwhelming majority of 153 nations (including India) voting in its favour, 10 voting against (including U.S. and Israel), and 23 abstentions, but it has not translated to action on the ground.
Bangladesh elections and protests: As Bangladesh gears up for elections on Jan. 7, the country has been rocked by violence in the lead-up to it as supporters of the main opposition BNP and the ruling Awami League clashed on numerous instances.
The BNP has been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has been ruling the nation for a combined period of nearly 19 years.
The BNP has demanded that Hasina resign to facilitate free and fair elections under a non-party interim government, under which four elections from 1991 to 2008 were held.
As The Indian Express had reported, the December 2008 elections installed Hasina’s Awami League, while the subsequent 2014 and 2008 polls were held under the incumbent government, which scrapped the constitutional provision after assuming office in January 2009.
Blip in Canada-India relations: Trudeau’s accusations, which India has denied as “absurd and motivated” has set off a chain of reactions, including the expulsion of several Canadian diplomats from India and the temporary suspension of visa services in Canada.
Months later, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) charged an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, for his involvement in a plot to murder a U.S.-based Khalistani leader.
Nashville school shooting: School shootings have, unfortunately, become a familiar part of the news cycle in the U.S.
In March 2023, a mass shooting at an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee grabbed headlines after a former student opened fire in the Covenant School building, killing six people, including three nine-year-old children.
The shooter was shot dead by the police.
Authorities said that Audrey Hale had drawn a detailed map of the school, including potential entry points, and conducted surveillance of the building before carrying out the massacre at the Christian school.
Nepal quake: More than 150 people were killed and hundreds of others injured after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck western Nepal a on Nov. 3.
The quake, whose epicentre was at Ramidanda, about 550 km from the capital city of Kathmandu, was the country’s deadliest since 2015.
The high death toll was partially due to the timing of the tremors, which hit the country at 11.47 pm (local time).
“If it had happened during the day, some people would have been out for work, some would have been in open areas, but because it happened late at night, the damage is more,” a local activist told The Indian Express. (NANFeatures) (