Throughout history, there have been numerous cases of countries falling apart. In fact, it probably occurs far more frequently than most people realize. We saw it happen often in the 20th century, and it continues to happen today. It would be impossible to name all the prominent countries that no longer exist, but we’ve tried to highlight some of the more recent ones in the list below. These countries managed to make a mark in their time, but are no longer around today.
Countries that No Longer Exist
1. The Soviet Union
The Soviet Union is perhaps the most prominent recent example of a major country falling apart, being the one superpower aside from the United States during the Cold War era. The empire consisted of 15 different Eurasian nations at its peak. Upon its collapse in 1991, the bulk of these nation states ended up becoming their own sovereign countries.
Related article: What Is the Kremlin?
2. United Arab Republic
This country was more of an alliance in practice, with Egypt and Syria merging in 1958, despite the fact that they don’t actually share a border. This union was short lived, however, with Syria backing out after only 3 years. Egypt would keep the name for another decade until it was formally dissolved in 1971.
Related article: Where Is Egypt?
Czecholslovakia was one of the many different countries that sprouted out of the end of World War I, a combination of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia. During World War II, it fell under Nazi rule, and became a part of the Communist Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Following the “Velvet Revolution,” Communist rule came to an end, and in 1993, the country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Yugoslavia’s start is very similar to Czechoslovakia, stemming from portions of the fallen Austria-Hungarian Empire after World War I. It consisted of parts of Hungary and modern-day Serbia. After the end of World War II, Josip Tito created a socialist dictatorship, which lasted until the early 1990s, when the country experienced a series of separate but related ethnic conflicts and wars of independence, eventually splitting the country into modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia.
Related article: The Former Yugoslavian Countries
Tibet achieved independence in 1912, following the fall of China’s Qing Dynasty. While being considered a protectorate of China, the ancient region had its fair share of autonomy. This came to a close in 1950, after the Communist Party won the Chinese Civil War. The army would march into Tibet and take over, ending its independence.
Related article: What Is Tibet?
Newfoundland is technically still around as a province, but for a time in the early 20th century, it was its own country as well. In 1907, a group of immigrant settlers combined their outposts to become a self-governing independent country. However, after the Great Depression devastated the area, it opted to become a British colony, before becoming part of Canada outright in 1949.
Related article: How to Memorize the Provinces of Canada
7. Neutral Moresnet
It’s hard to believe that a little strip of land less than 1.5 square miles could be its own country, but that was the case here. When Europe’s borders were reset in the 19th century, this little piece of land was forgotten, essentially, and Belgium and then-Prussia ended up sharing it. Belgium would formally annex the area in 1920.
On the topic of Prussia, this is another country that is no longer present today. In fact, at its height, Prussia was one of the premier military powers in the region, and a major part of Germany’s empire. After World War II, the Allies decided to abolish it, and it’s now most of modern-day Poland.
9. Ottoman Empire
One of the most powerful and longest lasting empires in history, the Ottoman Empire was formed in 1299 AD when the leader of some Turkish tribes located in Anatolia decided to establish a more formal method of ruling. At its height, the empire expanded to include parts of Russia, Turkey, Hungary, the Balkans, northern Africa, and the Middle East. After World War I ended in 1918, the Ottoman Empire was almost entirely broken up. Turkey was formed in 1923 from the remnants.
Related article: What Was the Ottoman Empire?
As Africa began to decolonize in the early 20th century, it experienced fierce resistance from some of the white minority. One of the examples of this was the government of South Rhodesia. Having been a UK colony since 1923, it declared independence, and operated as an illegal nation (with no international recognition) for 14 years. After hostility and outright violence, the Republic of Zimbabwe was created in 1980.
Related article: What Was the Scramble for Africa?
Compared to some of the other countries on this list, there’s a decent chance you haven’t heard of the little Himalayan monarchy of Sikkim. Originally established in 1642, Sikkim became India’s 22nd state in 1975. Today, Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. It’s notable for being a host to Kangchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth.
12. East/West Germany
With Germany being one of the most progressive modern countries today, it’s easy to forget that it once had a massive divide. At the end of World War II, the country was divided between the Soviet-occupied East and the Ally-occupied West, with the Berlin Wall serving as a clear symbol of this division. In 1990, though, the wall was torn down and the country was reunified.
With all this said, even as some countries fade, new ones are still popping up as well. Here’s an accompanying article of some of the most recent countries to get international recognition.