Disappearing Into Thin Air: Countries And Independent Territories That No Longer Exist

Considering how powerful, rich, and old some of even the smallest countries in the world are, it seems impossible that some of them could just disappear off of the face of the Earth. However, throughout history, that is exactly what has happened, and it occurs more often than most people might think. So, take a look at these countries that once existed, what they were like, and what resulted in their downfall.

The Free State Of Prussia Was Around For Almost 30 Years

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ircke/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The Free State of Prussia was a state of Germany that lasted between 1918 to 1947. It was established after the German Revolution, which saw the end of the German Empire and the creation of the Weimar Republic following World War I. It followed in the footsteps of the Kingdom of Prussia, with the exception that it had a democratic republic government and was much smaller.

For a time, it was the dominant state in Germany until the establishment of the new regime in 1933 when it was included in the Gaue system. Although Minister-President Otto Braun attempted to re-establish the Prussian government after World War II, he was denied by the Allies, and Prussia was abolished in 1947.

Sikkim Was Around For Hundreds Of Years

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SeM/Universal Images Group via Getty Image

A state in northeastern India, Sikkim is the second smallest of the Indian states and the least populous of them all. In the 17th century, the Kingdom of Sikkim was founded by the Namgyal Dynasty until it became a princely state of British India in 1890.

After India’s independence, it remained a sovereign state with the Union of India and the Republic of India after 1950. Unfortunately, in 1975, the Indian Army took over the capital of Gangtok, and the monarchy was dissolved, resulting in Sikkim joining India as the 22nd state.

Newfoundland Was England’s First North American Territory

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ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Newfoundland was first settled by Basque fishermen in the mid-1500s, making it England’s first territory in North America. Newfoundland slowly grew and became incredibly profitable due to its fishing industry to the point that it became a self-governing territory in 1907.

Nevertheless, the effects of World War I, the building of the Newfoundland Railway, and the decline in fish prices put Newfoundland in a financial crisis. Then, in 1933, in return from loans of England, the government was disbanded. Although Newfoundland was promised to be able to regain its sovereignty, in 1948, the territory was voted to become a part of Canada.

Austria-Hungary Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Tome

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The Print Collector/Getty Images

Austria-Hungary was created in 1867 after the alliance between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire in the 19th century, Austria-Hungary became the largest Catholic empire in the world.

Nevertheless, before the start of World War I, there were signs of disdain between the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Following the war, the country was dissolved, and instead Austria and Hungary became two separate republics known as Austria and Hungary.

Neutral Moresnet Had An Area Of 900 Acres

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SSPL/Getty Images
SSPL/Getty Images

After Napoleon’s defeat, when the 1815 Congress of Vienna changed the borders of Europe, there was an issue regarding separating the Netherlands and Prussia, with one particular region being rich in zinc. To solve the problem, the 900-acre area was set aside for a future ruling of who would be given the land.

However, that decision was never made, and Neutral Moresnet became its own nation with its own currency and flag. However, after World War I, as part of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, Neutral Moresnet was awarded to Belgium.

Basutoland Was An independent African Kingdom

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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Up until 1868, Basutoland was an independent African Kingdom located in what is now modern-day Lesotho. However, it was taken over by the British and was ruled by Cape Colony beginning in 1871.

As it turns out, Basutoland was a hard territory for the British to control and was eventually dealt with under the direct supervision of Queen Victoria. It was then named the Territory of Basutoland and was a British colony for around 100 years until it gained its independence from Britain in 1966. From there, it became known as Lesotho, which is ruled by a constitutional monarchy.

Czechoslovakia Was Eventually Split Into Two Countries

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Culture Club/Getty Images

Czechoslovakia was established by Moravia, Slovakia, and Bohemia in 1918 after proclaiming their independence from Austria-Hungary. Yet, from 1939 to 1945, Czechoslovakia was made a part of Germany, and although it was no longer considered to be a sovereign state, the government remained in operation underground. The country was re-established at the end of World War II, and from 1948 to 1989, it was forced into the Eastern Bloc of the Soviet Union.

With communism coming to an end in Europe, Czechoslovakia eventually was freed of its communist government in what is known as the peaceful Velvet Revolution. In 1993, Czechoslovakia was split into the two sovereign states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Tavolara Is In The Imagination Of The People And Their Ancestors

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Luca Picciau/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Tavolara is a limestone island located close to the northeast coast of Sardinia. At one time, it was the smallest kingdom in the world, being just four miles in length and half a mile wide. The rock island was discovered by Giuseppe Bertolini in the 18th century, who proclaimed himself as its king.

A “royal” bloodline has existed on the island ever since, regardless that the outside world has never officially recognized the so-called kingdom. Technically, Tavolara is part of a protected region of the Italian national marine reserve, with some of the island being owned by NATO.

Yugoslavia Had Many Names

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Bettmann/Getty Images

Following World War I, Yugoslavia was established, initially being called Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. This marked the first time that the South Slavic people identified as a sovereign state after centuries of being part of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. The country gained recognition in 1922 and changed the name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929.

Yugoslavia became a communist nation under Josip Broz Tito after World War II, and after a civil war, only Serbia and Montenegro were part of what was “the third Yugoslavia.” In 2003, the name Yugoslavia was disbanded, and the country became Serbia and Montenegro until they became separate entities in 2006.

Vermont Declared Its Independence During The Revolutionary War

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MPI/Getty Images

Unknown to most, the current state of Vermont was once its own independent country between 1777 and 1791. The nation was a result of countless arguments regarding land possession in the 1700s, which escalated to the point that the people of Vermont declared their independence, establishing the Vermont Republic.

The nation was complete with its own currency, paid militia, postal service, and constitution. Furthermore, they even abolished slavery in their new nation! In 1791, after 14 years, the Vermont Republic was admitted into the United States as the State of Vermont.

Zanzibar’s Independence Lasted Around A Month

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Rolf Stang/picture alliance via Getty Images

Zanzibar is a territory of Tanzania off of the coast of the mainland that was discovered by the Portuguese in the 1500s. Its people were then converted to Christianity before Islam made an impact in the 17th century. The British and Germans made an appearance in the late 1800s, claiming parts of it for their own.

Incredibly, for a short period of time, Zanzibar was a sovereign state from December 1963 until the following month, when a revolution resulted in Zanzibar merging with Tanganyika as part of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Tripolitania

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DEA / N. CIRANI/De Agostini via Getty Images

Currently the capital of modern-day Libya, Tripolitania was an independent republic that dates back to ancient times and spans more than 500 miles. Throughout the ages, it was controlled by the Vandals, Romans, Phoenicians, and Arabs before finally becoming part of the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century.

Finally, after the italo-Turkish war, the territory was handed over to Italy in 1912. Unfortunately, by 1939, Tripolitania was no longer considered to be an independent state and became part of the Italian colony of Libya.

East And West Germany Were Separated By The Berlin Wall

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GERARD MALIE/AFP via Getty Images

Germany may be unified today, but after World War II, it was divided into two separate countries known as East and West Germany. During this struggle, the Soviet Union had control over the East and the United States and other Allied forces controlled the West.

This division resulted in the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 which stood for almost 30 years before it was finally brought down in 1990. This once again brought Germany back together and showed hope for the end of the Cold War.

Ceylon Turned Into Sri Lanka

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Shalini Saran/IndiaPictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Ceylon was an island state that was first established back in the 6th century BC by the Sinhalese, an Indo-Aryan group. The Sinhalese live on the Island until the 15th century when the Tamil Kingdom took it over.

Unfortunately for the island, it traded hands over the centuries, occupied by the Dutch, Portuguese, and then the British in 1796, until it finally became independent in 1948. Then, in 1972, Ceylon ceased to exist, and the island nation was renamed to be Sri Lanka. Today, it is considered one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world.

The Principality Of Outer Baldonia Attempted To Declare War On The Soviet Union

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Located off the tip of Nova Scotia is a three-acre island known as Outer Bald Tusket Island. Known for its fishing tournament in the 1930s, an American named Russel Arundel bought it from two locals for the small price of $750 in 1948. Little did the two men know that Arundel planned to establish a sovereign nation comprised solely of fishermen.

Arundel drafted a declaration of independence calling it the Principality of Outer Baldonia and eventually had a flag, military, charter, and passports with Arundel naming himself “Prince of Princes.” After an attempt to declare war on the Soviet Union because of an article written about the principality, Arundel eventually got bored and sold the island to the Nova Scotia Bird Society.

Fredonia Preceeded Texas

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In 1826, a group led by a man named Haden Edwards took control of the town of Nacogdoches in what is now Mason Country, Texas. After taking the town, they declared themselves an independent democracy called Fredonia.

Next, Edwards, along with 15 other Fredonians, then created their own government, flag, and signed a treaty with a Cherokee tribe for defense. Nevertheless, just a month after Fredonia’s birth, Mexican soldiers and the Texas militia retook Nacodoches and ended the whole thing.

The Indian Stream Republic

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Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Indian Stream Republic was located on the part of the border that divides Quebec’s Canadian province from the state of New Hampshire in the United States. In the early 1830s, a few hundred citizens of New Hampshire had the idea to declare their own independence.

Unsure of what to call themselves, they took the name of the Indian Stream Republic, as that’s what the area was known as. Although the republic had an organized and elected government with around 300 citizens, it remained unrecognized and only lasted from July 9, 1832, to August 5, 1835.

Hawaii Wasn’t Always A State

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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Hawaii is made up of 137 volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean that spans 1,500 miles and is part of Oceania. Hawaii is the only state outside of North America, the only island state, the only state in the tropics, and is one of two to have previously been an independent nation.

Prior to its annexation into the United States, the islands were the Kingdom of Hawai’i, which was sovereign between 1810 to 1893 when the monarchy government was overthrown by Americans and Europeans with financial interests.

The Confederate States Of America Tried And Failed

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CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, the majority of the Southern United States seceded from the Union over states’ rights, calling themselves the Confederate States of America.

In total, there were 11 states in the Confederacy, and their secession resulted in the American Civil War, the bloodiest conflict on American soil. Although the Union never recognized the Confederacy as a sovereign nation, Great Britain did. The Confederacy lasted from the start of the war in 1861 to its eventual defeat in 1865.

Rhodesia Had To undergo A Civil War To be Recognized As Independent

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Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Rhodesia was a sovereign territory located in South Central Africa. It was named after the British colonial administrator Cecil Rhodes and was controlled by the British South Africa Company, which wanted to use the land to mine for its rich deposits of coal, copper, and gold during the 19th century.

However, between the years 1965 to 1979, Rhodesia declared itself as an independent nation, although it was overall unrecognized. Yet, this changed after a civil war in which the world recognized Rhodesia’s independence in 1980, and the country was renamed Zimbabwe.