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November 12, 2008

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Dr. Hogenauer ...                 Systematic Travel (Part 2)




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  • Systematic Travel (1)

Systematic travel: Part 2
What constitutes a "country"? You decide!
By Dr. Alan Hogenauer

Hello again, fellow travelers!

Continuing where we left off last week, let's look more closely at four more "country" lists, both the two previously promised and two more for good measure. (hereafter MTP) began as, but soon evolved to be more politically correct and more inclusive. Charles Veley, a relatively-young Californian who realized a significant windfall as a participant in the boom, decided to try to visit as much of the world as possible, down to even its minor subdivisions. Charles' list of 757 "places" goes well beyond recognized "countries" by piggybacking on the DXCC list of "entities" (see below) and including many states, provinces, regions, islands and even miscellaneous oddities (for example, the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) headquarters in Geneva, and the UN headquarters in New York City). His list of "places" expands periodically as the MTP "members" - now over 3,000 - vote in new places.

In fact, during the time since my last commentary, the number of places has jumped from 698 to become 757. Thus, without leaving home, I've jumped from number 12 in the rankings to number six, as a result of "crediting" 71 long-ago visits to all the Argentine states and many Russian oblasts, as these "made the official list" in a nanosecond. As number one among the members, Charles has reached an incredible 709 of the 757!

Regardless of whether everyone agrees on the list itself, is a fascinating motivational resource, because:

  • the list itself offers endless inspiration
  • members share stories about their visits to the places
  • excellent captioned photos are changed frequently
  • every member's travels (and remaining places) can be superbly mapped "while you watch"
  • the site produces an excellent certificate listing all of a member's visited places.

In far less-detailed fashion, three other lists are inspirational (but ultimately inconclusive!) as well.

The United Nations Statistics Division provides an online list of "countries or areas" (237 as of this writing). Clearly, that's a step up from the UN's 192 members.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, is a network of the standardís bodies of 157 countries.

Going well beyond those 157, however, the ISO publishes a list of 246 "country" names and their two-letter codes. Thus here appear, for example, Antarctica as a whole, Taiwan as a province of China (?), and numerous island groups in the South Atlantic.

The final list herein is - as previously promised - the "amateur radio" station compilation, the DXCC. For the uninitiated (myself included, prior to researching this!), this requires a bit of explanation. DX comes from the telegraphic shorthand for "distant". DX-ing is trying to reach or make contact with (NOT actually visit!) distant non-commercial "stations". The DXCC (or DX Century Club, overseen by the American Radio Relay League), is basically an award program focused on participants reaching stations in 100 "entities", as the DXCC terms them. Much like the aforementioned TCC (Travelers Century Club), 100 is the DXCC's magic number as well. But, the full DX list, as of this writing, is 338 "entities", including islands galore (Malpelo, off Colombia; Clipperton, off Mexico; Rotuma, off Fiji; etc. etc. etc. - but not Zanzibar?) Most, if not all of these 338 are also on the MTP list, but the latter - as noted above - also includes all those states and provinces, more than doubling the 338.

So, in summary, we have lists ranging from 757 MTP places to 338 DX entries to 317 Travelers Century Club "countries" to 246 ISO "countries" to 237 UN "countries/areas" to 192 UN "member states". Ultimately, all are subjective and thus "incomplete". But any and all represent life-long, real world challenges for avid, even tentative travelers. You choose!

The well-kept secrets of extending travel based on proximity/adjacency and the "master trip list", a compilation of hundreds of places into a theoretical itinerary that can be experienced easily in part as one travels to even just one "intended destination".

Happy travels, determined or otherwise!

Dr. Alan Hogenauer is Associate Professor in the College of Business Administration at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, specializing in travel and tourism. He has been traveling "systematically" for more than 50 years. In 1981, he became the first person to reach all the units of America's national park system, which he updated in 1995 and 2006. His multiple travel challenges are listed on his website Dr. Hogenauer's latest and ongoing goal is to link everywhere on earth using surface transport only; to date he has linked 169 countries and territories on all seven continents without using an airplane.

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