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Top 10 Countries That No Longer Exist

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Matthew Manouli.

There are actually quite a few countries that disappeared in the 20th century – and many of these are countries that disappeared because of war. Germany used to be called Prussia, East Germany and the Weimar Republic, Sri Lanka was once Ceylon, Czechoslovakia is now the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and the Ottoman Empire was basically replaced by the Republic of Turkey. WatchMojo counts down a list of nations that don’t exist anymore.

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Transcript
Script written by Matthew Manouli.

Top 10 Countries That No Longer Exist


Now you live in them, now you don’t. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Countries That No Longer Exist.

For this list, we’ll be looking at nations, republics, states and countries that were divided, replaced, absorbed or otherwise ceased to be – flags and all.

#10: Weimar Republic
1919 - 1933

From 1919-33, Germany was unofficially called the Weimar Republic, and officially Deutsches Reich. Formed between the Second and Third Reichs, this attempt at a republic was doomed from the start. At the end of the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles imposed harsh penalties on Germany, which contributed to issues with hyperinflation and warring Communist and right-wing nationalist paramilitary movements. It wasn’t all bad, though, as the government ended up helping German currency and railways, and got out of most of the imposed restrictions from the Treaty. But it was all for naught, however, because after the Reichstag fire, a certain Chancellor influenced the government to call a state of emergency, effectively ending the republic and beginning Germany’s Nazi period.

#9: East Germany
1949 - 1990

After World War II, Germany was reeling from their losses, and their territory was divided up by the Allies. West Germany ultimately stayed connected with the rest of Western Europe. East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic, or GDR, was snatched up by the USSR as a Soviet Satellite state, and occupied by Soviet forces for decades. They built the infamous Berlin Wall in 1961 to stop emigration, and killed many defectors. Despite having the best economy of the Eastern Bloc states, it was a grim situation. The Berlin Wall finally came down in 1989, and a year later, as the USSR was dying, the GDR was absorbed into a unified democratic Germany.

#8: Prussia
1525 - 1947

Wow, Germany’s had more names than Puff Daddy. This iteration was called Prussia. Starting out as a duchy, it became a kingdom in 1701 under Frederick I, and became famous for its military strength, most notably under Frederick the Great and Otto von Bismarck. At its peak, Prussia covered parts of what are now 8 European countries. After German unification in 1871, Prussia was the largest state in the German Empire, but ceased to be a kingdom after WWI. It later lost independence after the Weimar Republic dismissed Prussia’s cabinet, and by 1934, their powers had been completely stripped by the Nazis. After WWII, the Allies effectively dissolved Prussia, with Poland and the USSR taking the spoils and kicking the Germans out.

#7: United Arab Republic
1958 - 1961

This ill-fated project was a union between Egypt and Syria. The United Arab Republic, or UAR, was the first move towards eventually forming a larger pan-Arab state. It was also an attempt to subdue that pesky Communist influence in the area. The project was short-lived though, as Syria became independent again in 1961 after a coup d’état. Egypt kept the name UAR for another 10 years before realizing they weren’t united with anyone. They officially changed back to Egypt in 1971, shortly after the death of their president and founder of the UAR, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

#6: Ceylon
1505 - 1972

Just off the coast of India, Ceylon was the converted name given to Sri Lanka after the Portuguese landed there in the early 16th century. Like a lot of countries during the Age of Discovery and New Imperialism, Ceylon went through its fair share of European overlords, ending with the British, who consolidated rule over the island starting in 1815. Fast-forward to 1948, and Ceylon became a dominion, fully independent of Britain, but still recognizing the British monarch. It stayed this way until 1972, when it became a republic and its name was changed to Sri Lanka. Today, parliament plans to erase most references to the country’s old name.

#5: Czechoslovakia
1918 - 1993

After the Central Powers were defeated at the end of WWI, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved and split into a bunch of successor states. One of these was Czechoslovakia, one of the few countries in Europe that was a democratic republic at the time. They had a good thing going until the Nazis gobbled it up, and later, of course, the Soviets. During the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the Czechs deposed their government and restored their democracy, but things weren’t all rosy. By 1993, nationalist tensions between Czechs and Slovaks caused the country to peacefully split into two: the Czech Republic in the West, and Slovakia in the East, effectively making them... Czechmates.

#4: Rhodesia
1965 - 1979

Starting out as the British colony of Southern Rhodesia and named after Cecil Rhodes, the British businessman who exploited the region, this southeast African state had a history mired in blood. In 1965, the minority whites signed a declaration of independence from the UK, which was declared illegal, as Britain only allowed the majority to make such a declaration. After British sanctions, and a 15 year civil war between Robert Mugabe’s ZANU, Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU, and Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government, Rhodesia buckled: universal suffrage was granted and the state was named Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Elections were held in 1980, and Robert Mugabe and ZANU won. The European name of Rhodesia was replaced with just Zimbabwe, and Mugabe has been in control, first as Prime Minister and now as President, ever since.

#3: Ottoman Empire
1299 - 1923

With an over 600-year existence, the Ottoman Empire’s run was one of the longest in history. They officially ended the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire by taking Constantinople, annexed much of the Middle East under Suleiman I, dominated the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and were instrumental in causing European nations to modernize their weaponry. They had a good run, barring multiple genocides, but political ineptitude, internal revolts, and the sheer vastness of the Empire caused it to decline. Allied with Germany during WWI, the loss saw the Empire dismantled. With the Turkish War of Independence, the sultanate was abolished and the Republic of Turkey took the Empire’s place, while its legacy was whittled down.

#2: Yugoslavia
1918 - 1992

Along with Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia was another remnant of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Unlike its peer, which adopted democracy, Yugoslavia became a Kingdom. That kingdom was invaded by the Nazis in 1941, as was the trend in Europe. At the end of WWII, it became a socialist federal republic unaffiliated with the USSR, under the leadership of Josip Tito. It was a federation of 6 different republics that, after Tito’s death in 1980, wanted independence because of ethnic differences. Some republics declared independence in the early 1990s, effectively dissolving Yugoslavia into what is today 7 different countries, including Croatia, and Serbia. The story doesn’t end there though, as the Yugoslav Wars unfortunately continued throughout the 1990s.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Austro-Hungary
1867 - 1918

- Sikkim
1642 - 1975

- South Vietnam
1955 - 1975

#1: Soviet Union
1922 - 1991

The latter half of the 20th century saw the planet turn into a chessboard with America on one side and the Soviet Union, the largest state in the world, on the other – and that division still exists today. Along with the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the USSR influenced world politics to such an extent that the effects can still be felt in our modern world, with areas like Asia, South America, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caribbean all feeling the effects. Ultimately, because of economic failure, most Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe replaced their Communist governments, and eventually the USSR’s republics followed suit in the ‘90s. They are now 15 independent states, including the territory that is Russia, or the Russian Federation, which is the USSR’s legal successor.

Do you agree with our list? What are some other countries that have left the map? For more geographically interesting Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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