Countries That No Longer Exist 2021

map placeholder

While it is often tempting for patriotic people to think of their homeland as permanent and everlasting, it is an undeniable fact that sometimes even countries cease to exist.

Why do countries cease to exist?

There are several possible reasons for a nation to come to an end. Some countries merge to form (or reform, in the case of East Germany and West Germany) a single country. Other countries split apart—for example, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), dissolved into 15 smaller countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some countries have been annexed, such as when the growing United States of America absorbed the fledgeling Republic of Texas in 1845. Others have been conquered outright and assimilated, as happened when Vietnam absorbed the kingdom of Champa. Finally (and least catastrophically), some nations have remained intact and simply adopted a new name, such as when Ceylon "died" and was reborn as Sri Lanka in 1972.

List of the most well-known nations that have ceased to exist throughout history:

  • Abyssinia - Now known as Ethiopia
  • Austria-Hungary - A region that included Austria, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and the Balkans. Ceased to exist following World War I.
  • Basutoland - Now known as Lesotho
  • Bengal - Now part of India and Bangladesh
  • Burma - Now known as Myanmar
  • Catalonia - An autonomous region of Spain
  • Ceylon - Now known as Sri Lanka
  • Champa - Located in what is now Vietnam
  • Corsica - Now a department of France
  • East Germany - Reunited with West Germany to become Germany
  • East Pakistan - Now known as Bangladesh
  • England - Now part of the United Kingdom
  • Gran Colombia - Was once what is now Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela
  • Hawaii Was a country until annexed to the United States
  • New Grenada - Now known as the Republic of Colombia
  • Newfoundland - Now a Canadian province
  • North Yemen - United with South Yemen in 1990 to become Yemen
  • Ottoman Empire - Once included parts of Hungary, Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, the Balkans, and North Africa
  • Persia - Now known as Iran
  • Prussia - Once included parts of Germany and Poland. It was disbanded following World War II.
  • Rhodesia - Now known as Zimbabwe
  • Scotland - Now part of the United Kingdom
  • Siam - Now known as Thailand
  • Sikkim - Now part of North India
  • South Vietnam - Now known as Vietnam
  • South Yemen - United with North Yemen in 1990 to become Yemen
  • Southwest Africa - Now known as Namibia
  • Tanganyika - United with Zanzibar to form Tanzania
  • Texas - Was an independent country until annexed by the United States
  • Tibet - Now an autonomous region of China
  • Transjordan - Now known as Jordan
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - Divided into 15 countries in 1988-1991
  • United Arab Republic - Now split into Syria and Egypt
  • Vermont - Was an independent country until it entered the U.S. as a state
  • Wales - Now part of the United Kingdom
  • West Florida (Republic of) - Included parts of Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi declaring independence from Spanish rule, became a United States territory in less than 90 days.
  • West Germany - Reunited with East Germany to become Germany
  • Western Samoa - Changed name to Samoa in 1997 (There is no Eastern Samoa, but American Samoa lies to the east)
  • Yugoslavia - Split into six countries in the 1990s
  • Zaire - Now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Zanzibar - United with Tanganyika to form Tanzania

Events influencing the fall and rise of countries over the past century

World War I and World War II saw immense disruption to the alignment and existence of many countries throughout the world. Alsace-Lorraine, the region that straddles France and Germany, ceased to exist in 1918 with the end of World War I. The Weimar Republic became Nazi Germany, both of which no longer exist and are parts of the modern country of Germany.

The slow-motion collapse of the Soviet Union from 1988-1992 led to the introduction of 15 separate countries in Europe and Asia. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, two countries that emerged out of World War I and World War II and which had strong ties to the U.S.S.R., dissolved alongside it. Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Yugoslavia broke apart to form Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Kosovo (which is was struggling to attain independence from Serbia in 2021).

In the Middle East, The United Arab Republic was formed in 1958 by merging Egypt and Syria; the UAR then attempted to add a third country, then called North Yemen, and become the United Arab States. Both the UAR and UAS dissolved in 1961.

Some view the Native Americans and First Nations as having historical sovereign states, as they once had their own governments and tribal alliances, but are now part of modern countries such as the United States, Canada, and Mexico. There is significant contention around this idea, as the US Constitution allows for autonomy of the native tribes, but this autonomy is often poorly respected or simply ignored.

Countries That No Longer Exist 2021

Former Country Collapse Year Note
Abyssiniaearly 20th centuryAlso known as the Ethiopian Empire, Abyssinia was a kingdom in northeast Africa. In the early 20th century, it split into the states of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Austria-Hungary1918A monarchy established in 1867, Austria-Hungary (also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire) included not just Austria and Hungary but also parts of the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, Romania, and the Balkans. The empire collapsed at the end of World War I.
Bengal1539Bengal was an independent kingdom in southern Asia that existed from 1338 to 1539. The area has since been divided into the states of Bangladesh and India.
Burma1989Burma officially changed its name to Myanmar in 1989. However, many countries still have not recognized the change.
Catalonia1939Catalonia was an autonomous region of Spain. It remained independent from 1932 to 1934 and from 1936 to 1939.
Ceylon1972Ceylon was an island country located off the coast of India. In 1972, it changed its name to Sri Lanka.
Corsica1789This Mediterranean island was ruled by various nations over the course of its history but had several brief periods of independence. Today, Corsica is a department of France.
Czechoslovakia1993Czechoslovakia was a country in eastern Europe. It peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
East Pakistan1971This area was a province of Pakistan from 1947 to 1971. It is now the independent state of Bangladesh.
Gran Colombia1830Gran Colombia was a South American country that included what is now Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador from 1819 to 1830. Gran Colombia ceased to exist when Venezuela and Ecuador seceded from the union.
Hawaii1898Though a kingdom for hundreds of years, Hawaii wasn't recognized as an independent country until the 1840s. The country was annexed to the United States in 1898.
New Granada1858This South American country was part of Gran Colombia from 1819 to 1830 and was an independent country from 1830 to 1858. In 1858, the country became known as the Grenadine Confederation, then the United States of New Granada in 1861, the United States of Colombia in 1863, and finally, the Republic of Colombia in 1886.
Newfoundland1949From 1907 to 1949, Newfoundland existed as the self-governing Dominion of Newfoundland. In 1949, Newfoundland joined Canada as a province.
North Yemen and South Yemen1990Yemen split in 1967 into two countries, North Yemen (a.k.a. the Yemen Arab Republic) and South Yemen (a.k.a. the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen). However, in 1990 the two rejoined to form a unified Yemen.
Ottoman Empire1923Also known as the Turkish Empire, this empire began around 1300 and expanded to include parts of contemporary Russia, Turkey, Hungary, the Balkans, northern Africa, and the Middle East. The Ottoman Empire ceased to exist in 1923 when Turkey declared independence from what remained of the empire.
Persia16th centuryThe Persian Empire extended from the Mediterranean Sea to India. Modern Persia was founded in the 16th century and later became known as Iran.
Prussia1945Prussia became a Duchy in 1660 and a kingdom the following century. At its greatest extent, it included the northern two-thirds of modern Germany and western Poland. Prussia, by World War II a federal unit of Germany, was fully dissolved at the end of World War II.
Scotland, Wales, and England18th centuryDespite recent advances in autonomy, part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, both Scotland and Wales were independent nations that eventually merged with England to form the United Kingdom.
Sikkim1975Sikkim was an independent monarchy from the 17th century until 1975. It is now part of northern India.
South Vietnam1976South Vietnam existed from 1954 to 1976 as the anti-communist counterpart to North Vietnam. It is now part of unified Vietnam.
TaiwanWhile Taiwan still exists, it is not always considered an independent country. However, it did represent China in the United Nations until 1971.
Texas1845The Republic of Texas gained independence from Mexico in 1836. It existed as an independent country until it was annexed to the United States in 1845.
Tibet1950A kingdom established in the 7th century, Tibet was invaded by China in 1950. Since then, it has been known as the Xizang Autonomous Region of China.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)1991For decades, this country was the most powerful communist nation in the world. In 1991, it broke into 15 new countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldovia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
United Arab Republic1961In 1958, non-neighbors Syria and Egypt joined together to form the United Arab Republic. In 1961, Syria abandoned the alliance, but Egypt kept the name United Arab Republic for itself for another decade.

Countries That No Longer Exist 2021