Out of DC's 176 embassies, 154 have their own building (or, in case of Sweden at the House of Sweden, are the undisputed main occupant). Another 22, mostly smaller countries but also including the Democratic Republic of Congo, save money by maintaining an embassy in an office suite in the city. These are a challenge to photograph without setting up meetings, so I'm mostly not trying. But I have managed to feature Iceland, which lives with Sweden, and the five East Caribbean States (Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines) which have a building together, and since El Salvador managed to plant a flag, though not a placard, outside the Dupont area office building which holds their chancery, we feature them today. The second photo in today's set shows the Salvadorean consulado general, a no-frills storefront on Wisconsin Avenue across the street from my local Whole Foods. In addition to the 8 mentioned, Burundi, Honduras, Libya, Papau New Guinea, Kosovo, the Gambia, Timor-Leste, Fiji, Djibouti, Suriname, Sao Tome & Principe, Liechtenstein, San Marino, and Palau also have office embassies in DC.
So what's with the other 18 countries? They fall into a couple categories.
- The United States of America. We don't have an embassy in our own country.
- No diplomatic relations with the United States: Bhutan, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea. Bhutan was surprising to me, apparently we have informal contacts through our embassy in India. Cuba is represented by the Swiss in the US, the Swiss also represent the US in Havana. Iran is represented by the Pakistanis in the US, while the US is represented by the Swiss in Tehran. North Korea is pretty isolated, though they have a mission in the United States, since we host the United Nations in New York.
- Every DC embassy is located in NW DC. However, the small African country of Guinea-Bissau went a little further northwest and located their embassy in Rockville, Maryland, in the DC suburbs. I'm not driving all the way out there, sorry.
- With missions to the UN located in New York, eight countries maintain their embassy there as well. All have fewer than a million people, and other than the Spanish-French border dispute Andorra, the others are all islands or archipelagos: Comoros, the Solomon Islands, the Maldives, Samoa, Tonga, the Seychelles, and Nauru.
- Somalia closed its embassy in 1991 when it became a failed state, but it does have a permanent mission to the UN. Vanuatu and Tuvalu also have UN missions but apparently not embassies.
- Kiribati, an low-lying island nation in the Pacific which will apparently be the first country to vanish as a result of global warming, has been a member of the UN since 1999 but it currently does not have a permanent mission in New York - instead New Zealand casts votes for Kiribati as a proxy. The ambassador of the Marshall Islands in Washington is accredited to represent Kiribati. The country also maintains a consulate in Hawaii.
So that covers the 194 countries. The photos for this set are El Salvador chancery, El Salvador consulate, Guyana (I walked by a few times, but never caught them flying their flag for some reason), Swaziland (whose building was covered in scaffolding all summer, but has now been unveiled, impressively nice and clean), and two bonuses.
Taiwan does not have an embassy, because it's not an independent country of course, it's part of China, but we no longer recognize it as the legitimate government of China while still supporting its de facto independence and control of its island. So they have a mission in Tenleytown, but they fly their flag behind their front doors - you can at least see their seal on the placard outside, by the walking man's head. This is the last photo I shot for the project, I was in such a good position stopped at a red light that I didn't even have to park to shoot the building.
Our final bonus photo is the embassy of the Shah's Iran on Embassy Row (by the way, I'm reading an amusing and ribald Iranian novel from the 1970s, "My Uncle Napoleon"). It's still there, across the street from Bolivia and next to South Africa, but the Department of State took control of it in April 1980 after the revolution.