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, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Kosovo (which 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.