When making the decision to post information about a plate on our website, we are guided by two simple principles:
- the authority of the United Nations
- common sense.
All plates in this catalogue, are categorized into countries or territories, which are then placed into a broader category of continents. In most cases this categorization is straightforward but in few cases the inter-continental division is not clear-cut. What to do with countries like Russia or Turkey that are located simultaneously on two continents? Where is the exact boundary between Europe and Asia? Boundaries usually are drawn based on geographical factors but sometimes cultural influences play an important role.
For example: If we follow a geographical categorization Cyprus would be in Asia, if cultural then Cyprus should be placed together with Greece in Europe.
There are a huge number of different approaches and concepts on how to map territories around the world.
For example: The International Olympic Committee believes that Kazakhstan is within Asia, whilst UEFA classifies them as part of Europe. What system to follow?
There is another problem. Some countries have overseas territories, which make their classifying even harder. Let’s take Greenland, for a example. It is located in North America whilst it belongs to Denmark which is located in Europe. Would it be fair to classify them separately? Should Denmark be considered part of North America or vice versa Greenland as part of Europe?
There are many more questions that readers may ask:
Why are Hong Kong and Macau categorized separately under Mainland China?
Why is Gibraltar separated from Great Britain, and French Polynesia is categorized separately from France?
Why tiny French islands Saint-Pierre and Miquelon located near Newfoundland are placed in North America equally with such giants as USA and Canada?
Why are Aruba, Curacao and Saint Martin listed as separate countries, whilst Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba are combined into one group?
There is only one short answer for all these questions:
This is precisely how the United Nations Office of Statistics classifies, which publishes its vision of how the planet is divided and is categorized in terms of breakdown by continent, the macro and micro regions.
Please Find UN Classifications here - http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm
The reason why we chose the United Nations system is very simple: The UN has the largest number of participants, it is most respected and an internationally recognized organization.
We do believe the simplest and most reasonable approach to proceed with is to follow the United Nations guidelines, therefore we try to adhere to its system of macro and micro geographical mapping of our planet, as much as possible.
Is the UN system ideal?
Of course not. But who are we to argue with the categorizations of the UN? So for the most part we have followed UN vision.
There is only one exception to this rule, and occasionally we are guided by common sense instead of the UN System.
We apply common sense when we are dealing with unrecognized or partially recognized states that are not part of the UN for one reason or another.
Let me give you some examples of these territories:
- Taiwan, which under the name of Republic of China, was even the founding member of United Nations.
- Kosovo, which is recognized by 108 countries of the world.
- Transnistria, which is not recognized by anyone except Abkhazia and North Ossetia (territories which themselves do not have a solid international status)
In all those cases, it would be foolish to deny the existence of an independent territory. Especially when so many of these territories have all the necessary signs of an independent state - parliament, government, army, courts, etc. Such countries, in the event that we have a plate of them, are placed in the category of ‘Unrecognized’ countries.