In olden times, countries came in and out of existence on a frequent basis as fighting raged across the world. Different peoples and factions aimed to carve out their own territories and spaces. In the modern age, especially since nearly all borders have been delineated, it is rather rare that a new country emerges, which is why the declaration of South Sudan as a country in 2011 was so widely popularized. The past 25 years have seen such massive changes in terms of country development (even more if you go back to World War II, after which many colonial empires fell for good and their colonial possessions became independent) that the 25 newest countries (technically 31 countries as you’ll see by #’s 3, 6, 8, 16, and 17) on this list have barely existed for 25 years at the most. Though the breakup of the Soviet Union led to the fascinating histories of many of the countries on this list, there are loads of new ones from the Pacific Ocean to the Arabian Peninsula and even to southern Africa. Wake up the budding cartographer in you with this list of the 25 Newest Countries to Come Into Existence.
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The home of the first eastern Slavic state (Kyivan Rus), current-day Ukraine was the most powerful state in Europe during the 10th and 11th centuries. Internal division and Mongol invasions greatly weakened the state, leading it to eventually join the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A mid-1600’s revolution saw the area gain independence from the Poles, only to be taken over in the late 1800’s by the Russians. A short period of independence was achieved after the Russian/October Revolution but Ukraine was reconquered in 1920 and remained part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.
Out of all the former Soviet republics, Belarus has maintained the strongest ties with Russia, even agreeing to a two-state union at the turn of the last century (which has yet to truly materialize). The lands currently claimed by Belarus used to belong to various other states including modern-day Russia, Poland, and Lithuania. The Belarusian People’s Republic, first declared in 1918, was short-lived, succeeded the following year by the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. The country’s parliament declared its sovereignty on July 27th, 1990, one year before the official dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Nestled between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova has long been a contested area. The Ottomans who controlled the area ceded present-day Moldova to the Russian Empire which went on to impose Russian language and culture. The Russians ruled until the end of World War I when the region voted to unify with Romania. After the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact where Germany recognized Soviet spheres of influence, the Soviet Union demanded the region back from Romania, who complied, until later re-seizing it in 1941. The area returned to Russian influence after the war and did not regain its independence until the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
Uzbekistan & Kyrgyzstan
Neighbors Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are both sovereign countries (but are taking one place on our list so we had space for Yemen and Namibia). Both important countries along the Silk Road, these Central Asian “stans” fell under Russian influence in the late 19th century, along with the other countries in the region. Though the Kyrgyz revolted against the tsar in 1916, the Russians crushed the rebellion. Both countries took the opportunity of waning Soviet power to declare independence on the 1st of September and 31st of August, 1991, respectively.
Azerbaijan & Georgia
Similarly to #17, Azerbaijan and Georgia are both sovereign countries (since August 30th and April 9th, 1991, respectively) but are included in one item on our list. Iranian dynasties played a primary role in both countries, establishing dominance until both were annexed by Russia. Both countries were free for a few years after the Russian Revolution where they (along with Armenia) were initially united as the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, a state which existed for just over three months. In 1921, both Azerbaijan and Georgia were resolutely reconquered by Vladimir Lenin and Soviet forces, becoming Soviet Socialist Republics.