What percentage of territory is controlled by governments?

What percentage of territory is controlled by governments?
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

From Our World in Data:

Most countries effectively control their territory, but some do not.

To protect their citizens against internal and external threats, uphold the rule of law, and provide infrastructure and other public goods, governments need to control their territory.

This map shows how governments are doing in that regard, using data coded by country experts from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project.

We see that most countries control all or almost all of their territory. In them, the government is recognized as the main authority practically everywhere and can assert its power — sometimes by force — over actors that reject its authority.

However, some countries do not control large parts of their territory. They are concentrated in West and East Africa and Central and South America. In parts of these countries, insurgent groups, criminal organizations, or other countries are the main authority. In these areas, national governments often struggle to implement their policies effectively.

Yet, this used to be similar in many countries that control their territory today. This shows that governments can increase the control of their territory.