How Long Does a Country Last? 2022

map placeholder

How long do countries usually last? While this is a good question, it also isn't one that is typically tracked by any particular group or organization. Based on most reports and those who have done the research, the average country will survive approximately 150 years.

How Old is the United States?

If you are wondering, since the United States of America established its independence in 1776, it means it will be soon approaching its 250th year. What makes this interesting is that the average length of most empires, is 250 years.

The Oldest and Youngest Countries

That is a very short period of time, however, compared to the oldest country in the world, Japan. So, how old is Japan? This ancient country is dated to be about 2,673 years old. What Japan might refer to as its independence day, "National Foundation Day," is recorded as 660 BC.

Compare that to the youngest country in the world, South Sudan, which is about 14 years old, and it makes it easy to see why it might be difficult to ascertain just how long countries usually last.

There are many countries, especially throughout Europe that are around 50 years old. Many of these are the result of the fall of the British Empire, which led to its decolonization. Many of these countries, had they not been under British rule, would be around the same age as Italy, which is around 170 years old.

Predicting a Country's Lifespan

How long do countries last? There are many variables and an unfathomable amount of factors that could play a role in the lifespan of a country. History has shown that natural catastrophes can wreck a small country. We have witnessed countries fall to invasion, and others collapse from poor infrastructure.

There is also the unpredictable variable of people, and in particular the leadership they provide. We have seen dictators nearly take over the world, only to be conquered and fall. We have seen the reign of family and royalty, as it continues to get passed on from generation to generation.

The short answer is, that there is no definitive way to determine how long any country might last, and even the averages must account for countries like Japan that have existed since the beginning of time.

No, there is no way to know how long a country should normally last. The good news is there is enough evidence and history to show us that the answer may be, as long as we want it to.

At least one source calculates how long a country lasts on average to be 158 years. Most sources base figures on “empire” rather than country, which is 250 years.

Differences Between Countries and Empires

“Modern nation-states are ruled in the name of a nationally defined people, in contrast to empires, which govern to spread a faith across the world, to bring civilization to backward people, or to advance the world revolutionary cause,” says Andreas Wimmer and Brian Min, authors of “From Empire to Nation-State: Explaining Wars in the Modern World, 1816-2001.” (Quote is taken from the journal article’s abstract.)

Countries usually govern persons within specific borders. They typically don’t seek to expand their regime to the rest of the world (at least not currently), although they usually involve themselves with international relations if developed enough.

Empires usually strive to spread their agenda to everywhere else on the planet, which may explain why so many empires haven’t lasted. The word “empire” oftentimes connotates a hostile takeover. That’s what often occurs during the conquest stages of the five to seven steps of an empire’s lifecycle before peaceful commerce development that almost always ends in a decline. War doesn’t always occur as an empire grows, but it often does.

The Basis for the 158-Year Country Life Cycle Figure

“The 158-year-old average shouldn't be misconstrued as some prophetic measure for a country's life expectancy,” says Vice contributor Daniel Stuckey.

This research seems slightly arbitrary, but Stucky did retrieve independence dates as one way to measure how long countries existed.

2022 Age of Oldest Modern Democracies (Top 5)

Most of the world’s most notable democracies lasted only 50 years or less. This marks the five that have lasted the longest so far.

1. The United States

The United States will have lasted at least 246 years counting from the first Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, to 2022. Of course, it took another 200-plus years for the nation to become what it has by the 21st century.

The U.S. had yet to break away from being a British colony and end slavery by the early 1900s. The U.S. signed its democratic constitution in 1789, which was 233 years ago. It’s listed as the oldest modern democracy according to History.com (oldest in the 18th century to the 21 century).

2. Switzerland

This country had signed its constitution in 1848, which is 174 years ago now. It currently operates under 26 administrative regions called “cantons.”

3. New Zealand

NZ gained its independence in 1840. Then, the New Zealand Constitution Act came into effect in 1852, which released them from England to set up their own government. The country reportedly became the first self-governing country to ever grant women the right to vote in 1893. The signing of their constitution was 170 years ago.

4. Canada

Canada first gained its independence on July 1, 1867, which enabled the country to set up its own government. This occurred upon the passing of the British North America Act, but this nation still remains a commonwealth of Britain. It did, however, adopt its own constitution by 1982. If you count from 1867, this land has been a democracy for 155 years. However, it took more than a century for CA to begin embracing its independence.

5. United Kingdom

Apparently, the UK, which makes up Scotland, England and Northern Ireland, did not gain independence until 1922. However, they did have a Reform Act of 1832 that turned them into a parliamentary democracy. They still hadn’t granted women the right to vote by the time the Third Act of 1884 came into existence though. Not all men could vote at this time either. Women could finally vote in 1923.

How Long Does a Country Last? 2022

How Long Does a Country Last? 2022