What is a Country? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Andrea Miller

Andrea is currently a social studies middle school teacher in Ohio. She has a BA in history as well as a MEd in education. She has taught workshops including OGT Success and Writing for Life. Andrea has also been a middle school debate team coach for several years.

In this lesson, you will learn about what defines a country. You will learn about physical and cultural characteristics of a country, and you can take a short quiz to test your new knowledge.

What is a Country?

What would you say if someone asked where you lived? Would you say a house or an apartment? Would you say a city or a state? Or maybe your response would be the name of the country you live in. It's easy enough to name the country you live in, but how do you define a country? And why is your country different than other countries? Let's find the answers to these questions together.

Our Earth is divided up into seven large masses of land called continents. The seven continents are Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, Asia, South America and North America.

The 7 continents
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These continents can be further divided up into regions of land, which we call countries. Countries are territories with borders that separate them from other countries, each with their own government. There are 195 different countries in the world.

How Are Countries Formed?

Throughout history, humans have chosen to live on these continents together--originally in clans or tribes, then in towns and villages, and more recently in cities. Eventually, groups of towns, villages and cities living near each other would agree to work together and live under similar rules. This is how countries were formed.

To better understand, imagine that you have a cookie. Your friends would like to eat some of this cookie as well, so you break it up into pieces. That cookie represents a continent and the pieces are countries. Humans wanted their own pieces to live on, and as a result, they started to 'break it up' by forming countries.

Country Boundaries

So how do you know where one country ends and another begins? As we mentioned, countries have borders. But usually, these borders are invisible or they're natural. For example, the U.S. is bordered by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans on the east and west, two of its natural borders. But to the north is Canada and to the south is Mexico. These borders are imaginary lines that countries have agreed upon.

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