Monday Trivia No. 69

Sixty-five member states of the United Nations qualify for membership in this list. They are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China (PRC), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. (EDIT: Kosovo and Taiwan are not UN member states; I used a bad reference rather than my brain. But, I went back and confirmed: if those two nations were members of the UN, they’d belong in this list.)

Five additional member states of the United Nations almost qualify for membership. Those five are Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States of America.

How does a nation get on this list?

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. I can’t figure out what the flags of those countries have in common.

  2. Also, Taiwan is not a member state of the United Nations. Which, really, tells you all you need to know about the United Nations.

  3. Hmm. No Caribbean or Pacific islands; nothing on mainland Africa; no Asian former SSRs; Andorra, Monaco, and San Marino are out. Hmm.

    “How does a nation get on this list?” It signs up.

    • Missing European nations:

      The little ones: Andorra, Monaco, and San Marino, also Vatican City.
      Former Yugoslavia: Bosnia
      Former Soviet Union: Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia
      Other: Albania, Cyprus, Norway

      Norway must be a clue.

      • The Vatican may be out simply on the grounds of not being a UN member state.

        • Well, I made one mistake in that respect already with Taiwan. But if the Vatican were a member state of the UN, it would still not be on the list.

      • Damn, Norway is in the list right where it belongs alphabetically. How did I miss it?

  4. China *AND* Canada?

    Let’s ask a silly question and ask if there are any individual states that would qualify if we wanted to look at it that way.

    • By “states” do you mean the fifty states of the United States of America? Some would qualify and some would not, were they to be autonomous nations and members of the UN rather than component parts of the USA.

  5. “Almost” means it can’t be a binary thing… It is not something a country either has or doesn’t have. It has got to be a proportion or ratio of some kind. X widgets per capita or something. And I assume there is something important about the benchmark.

    • Sorry, but this is incorrect. Here’s your Tuesday clue a few hours early: the category has nothing to do with demographics, ratios, or pretty much anything that can be expressed mathematically.

      • Hmmmmm… I’m stumped then how something can be “almost”, unless they are in the process of becoming it (or unbecoming it) or there is some middle zone.

        • Could be related to a historical event that almost happened, I guess.

          • No, it’s an ongoing phenomenon. The nations on the “also-ran” list are there because this phenomenon doesn’t happen there at the level of national independence. As I disclose in the clue below, in the U.S. it happens at the state level in most but not all of the states. For the European nations on the also-ran list, it happens as a shared activity. Forty-one of the U.S. states share with one another completely, and all forty-three of the states that would qualify share to at least some extent. The District of Columbia also shares. For the nations on the the larger, main list, it happens nationally (although some nations also share with others, in some cases).

  6. Wednesday clue (a bit early again):

    Jaybird asked yesterday about states that would qualify if they were independent nations. Forty-three of them would qualify for inclusion on the list.

    Only Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming would not (they would not be on the also-ran list, either).

  7. Thursday hint: eligibility for the list may not be expressed in mathematics, but it most certainly has to do with money.

    As some additional trivia, I believe that the government of the Netherlands has been dong this longer than anyone else on the list — according to some, the Dutch have been at this since 1726.

    • Assuming Freud was involved with that comment, I’m stuck wondering why Nevada isn’t included.

    • Is it considered poor form to use the Google here? If so, I’ll keep the answer to myself. If not, I’ve got it.

      • My own thoughts on using Google, Bing, etc. are that they should be used to verify something you’ve thought up on your own. Obviously no one can check up on you, so your own sense of honor is what should govern.

        • Well then consider me disqualified. But the answer can be easily obtained by googling “the netherlands, 1726, and finance”

    • Specifically, national lotteries.

      The U.S. doesn’t quite count because there is no single national lottery, but there are two lotteries that are shared between forty-two states each (California participates in Mega Millions but not Powerball; Florida participates in Powerball but not Mega Millions), D.C., and the AVI. Switzerland has no national lottery of its own but does participate in EuroLotto, and the various Scandinavian nations on the “also-ran” list don’t have their own national lotteries but do participate in a multi-national “Viking Lottery.”

      For Jaybird: there is no state lottery in Nevada. Plenty of gambling options there offered by the private sector.

      Don Zeko, were you thinking lotteries?

  8. Uh, Switzerland has its own Swiss Lotto, my Basel-based girlfriend plays it semi-regularly — it’s homegrown and not shared with other countries. I wonder why your source didn’t include it.

    • I used wikipedia. This is a source that has been known to be inaccurate at times, but it’s easy to get lists and factoids on it.

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