A country is a distinct entity in political geography. It can be referred to as an independent sovereign state or a part of a bigger state, either as a non-sovereign or previously sovereign political division, or as a geographic region affiliated with sets of formerly independent or disparately associated individuals with distinctive political characteristics.
There is no all-encompassing definition of the word or universal agreement on a definite number of countries contained in the world as a result of sovereignty status disputes by a number of states. On a related note, the "Country name" field utilized by the CIA World Factbook refers to an array of dependencies, uninhabited islands, locations of special sovereignty, and other entities as well as the traditional countries or independent states.
From the mid-13th century, country meant a person's native land or any geographic area, with occasional implications of political organization. It emerged from Old French contree, cuntrede, meaning region, district, or country, and from Vulgar Latin *(terra) contrata "(land) meaning lying opposite," or "(land) meaning to spread before one, as well as from Latin contra, meaning opposite or against. The actual native word is land. In the thirteenth century, it referred to an "area surrounding a walled city or town; the open country." Around the early sixteenth century, the word was used mainly to describe rural areas, not towns and cities.