There are 195 countries in the world today, some of which the U.S. government prefers you not visit, but this number has changed over the centuries.
Throughout history, borders have rarely remained static, with new countries forming and others ceasing to exist.
Many nations were created organically as a group of people had a common culture and language. Other countries were formed simply because of geography such as these 25 smallest countries and territories in the world.
Some were created following mass migrations, and some were established after the breakup of bigger empires or countries into smaller states, and others were established following wars and treaties.
To account for the changes in our world over time, 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of countries that no longer exist.
10Native American Nations
For thousands of years, before the Europeans came to North America, the ancestors of Native Americans occupied the continent. Scholars estimate that more than 50 million people were living in the Americas when the Europeans first arrived in the late 15th century, with 10 million of them in what is now the United States.
The ancestors of Native Americans likely migrated to North America over a land bridge from Asia to Alaska some 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, according to different theories. When the Europeans got to North America, they encountered a sophisticated, highly structured society.
Comprising the Korean peninsula, North and South Korea were once one country. Korea was divided into North and South Korea after World War II, with the United States occupying the southern part, while the Soviet Union, under Joseph Stalin, occupied the northern section. The boundary between the North and South was arbitrarily established as the 38th parallel.
In 1948, the Republic of Korea was established in South Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in North Korea. With both sides claiming a right to the entire peninsula, the Korean War erupted, lasting from 1950 to 1953. South Korea was supported by the United States and western allies, while North Korea was supported by China and the Soviet Union.
8Kingdom of Hawaii
Hawaii was not always a U.S. state. In 1795 the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Molokai, and Lanai unified under one government. In 1810, the entire Hawaiian Archipelago was united when Kauai and Niihau joined the Kingdom of Hawaii voluntarily. Two dynasties ruled the kingdom, the House of Kamehameha and the House of Kalakaua.
In 1887, this kingdom of islands adopted a constitution that reduced the power of King Kalakaua. King Kalakaua was succeeded by his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, who, in 1891 tried to restore royal power that had been removed by a new Hawaiian constitution but she failed.
7Holy Roman Empire
Voltaire, one of the leading writers during the Enlightenment, famously said: “the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.” You may or may not agree with Voltaire, but the Holy Roman Empire was nonetheless a stabilizing influence through the chaos of the Middle Ages and was a bulwark against Muslim invasions that threatened Europe.
The empire filled the power vacuum created after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was the largest governing authority outside the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages and provided troops for the crusades. Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as the first Holy Roman Emperor in 800, and the Holy Roman Empire lasted for more than 1,000 years.
Gran Colombia spanned a massive swath of land in northern South America and southern Central America. It existed from 1819 to 1830 and included what are today Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru, western Guyana, and northwest Brazil. The country’s short existence was plagued by regional conflicts and struggle between two main factions:
supporters of a central government and a strong presidency led by President Simón Bolívar and supporters of a decentralized, federal form of government led by Francisco José de Paula Santander y Omaña. Bolivar, who led revolutionary forces in the war of independence from Spain and who was given great powers as president, refused to accept the federalist constitution despite its growing support.
Despite existing for barely 17 years, East Pakistan had known much turmoil. Occupying the land of Bangladesh today, the country’s first constitution replaced what was until then British rule with an Islamic republic. Not long after, however, martial law was enacted for several years following a coup d’etat.
Eventually, a movement aimed at restoring democracy gained enough support, and in 1970 Pakistan held its first federal general election. The party that won the majority of the seats on all of its seats in East Pakistan but failed to gain one seat in West Pakistan.
The Democratic Republic of Germany, or East Germany, was created in 1949 after World War II as the Allies agreed to divide Nazi Germany, including the capital Berlin. East Germany lasted until 1990. The nation functioned under a socialist command-economy system and was dominated by the Soviet Union, which had conquered that part of Germany during World War II.
It remained under Soviet influence essentially as a satellite state. East Germany was half the size of the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany, and its economy paled in comparison with its western counterpart, which had become independent from the western Allied powers.
3Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America, all located in the South, lasted from 1861 to 1865. The states broke away from the United States after Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860 because of disputes over the issues of states’ rights and slavery. Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederacy.
The Confederate constitution supported the institution of slavery but not the African slave trade. There were 11 states in the Confederacy, which fought the Union in America’s bloodiest war that claimed the lives of 750,000 people. The Confederacy was never formally recognized as a sovereign nation, although Great Britain considered recognition during the Civil War.
Founded in 1918 at the end of World War I, Czechoslovakia, a former Central European nation, comprising the former lands of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia. The political union was possible because these regions had similar languages, religion, and culture.
Between the world wars, the country became one of Central Europe’s most politically stable and prosperous states, functioning as a parliamentary democracy. From 1938-1945, Czechoslovakia was under Nazi rule, and from 1948-1989, it was controlled by the Soviet Union. A peaceful “Velvet Revolution” brought communism to an end in Czechoslovakia in 1989.
Created by the union of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in 1867, Austria-Hungary was a quintessential multilingual empire. The empire was an amalgamation of 11 different ethnic groups that lasted until 1918 as World War I ended. After the Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist in the early 19th century, Austria-Hungary inherited the mantle as the largest Catholic-led empire.
The empire’s Catholic character and affection of the people for longtime Emperor Francis Joseph were some of the factors that kept the empire together for 51 years.