Like everything else, countries have their own living cycle. They are formed at one point in history, go through changes and transformation and eventually disappear. Just during the past three decades, several countries disappeared from the map and new ones were formed.
Perhaps the best example is the USSR – one of the global superpowers which seized to exist in 1991. A year later, Yugoslavia broke apart into six separate countries. East Germany merged with West Germany to create a unified Germany after almost fifty years of Cold War division.
In this article, we will list ten countries that could disappear in the near future.
Spain has united into a single political entity only in the XV century, with the union of two leading kingdoms, Aragon and Castille. Despite this, the Spanish monarchy maintained the divide for centuries afterwards. In essence, Spain continued to be a union of different crowns ruled by the same monarch.
Today, Spain is faced with a secessionist movement in Catalonia that seeks independence for one of Spain’s richest regions. Furthermore, the Basque region is traditionally prone to separatism.
Belgium has been divided between the French-speaking Wallonia in the south and Dutch speaking Flanders in the north. The divide is not only linguistic, but cultural and political. Wallonia seeks independence and eventual union with France, while the Flemish part wants an independent state.
A protracted political crisis in 2010-2011 left Belgium without a government for 589 days; the longest period in which a developed country has been without an elected government.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina came into existence during the Yugoslav wars, but has been extremely unstable ever since. The very existence of the country depends on international support and relies on the fragile union between two separate entities, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serb Republic.
Bosnia has been called a ‘Mini Yugoslavia’ because of its deep ethnic divisions. Today, Bosnia has three main ethnic groups, Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.The leaders of the Serb entity have stated that their eventual goal is an independent state.
In 2014, Ukraine was plunged into a deep political crisis when President Yanukovych was ousted in a coup d’etat. A pro-Russian insurgence in the East followed, with the rebels establishing two breakaway states in the Donbass region, Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic. Clashes between the rebels and government forces have continued, despite a ceasefire brokered in Minsk two years ago.
To make thing worse for Ukraine, Russia has annexed Crimea in 2014. Moreover, there are other regions that have secessionist movements. One of them is Zakarpattia, a region that was historically a part of Austria-Hungary and has a substantial population of Russians, Romanians and Hungarians.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, making it one of the world youngest states. However, Kosovo independence has not been recognized by Serbia, Russia, China, Greece, as well as other countries.
Since the end of the Kosovo War in 1999, the country has continued to experience high ethnic tensions between ethnic Serbs and Albanians.
Certain Kosovan politicians have hinted that Kosovo may eventually unite with Albania.
The borders of Iraq and other countries in the Middle East have been drawn by the UK in the aftermath of WWII, when the UK and other European colonial powers withdrew from the Middle East.
In many ways, the borders were created arbitrarily, without respect to ethnic, linguistic and sectarian differences.
Since the ousting of Saddam Hussen in 2003 by the US-led coalition, Iraq has been at war. Today, the government in Baghdad is not in control of all of its territory. Kurdish militias in the north are seeking to establish their independent state. At the same time, ISIS is in control of parts of the country, including Mosul, one of the major Iraqi cities.
Iraq is also deeply divided between Sunnis and Shiites.
Plunged into chaos after the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya is experiencing sectarian warfare. Even though he has been described as a dictator and a tyrant in the West, Gaddafi managed to keep Libya together, despite deep sectarian differences.
Currently, there are several rival governments vying for power in the country.
The UK came into existence with the Union between England and Scotland in 1701. During recent decades, the government in London has delegated significant powers to the Scottish government. Scotland has its own separate tax and healthcare system, for example.
In a recent referendum, Scotland has voted to remain in the UK, but there have been calls for a new vote, especially after Britain voted to leave the EU.
The possibility of a new referendum therefore remains high. Scotland leaving the Union would mark the end of the UK.
Historically, the Korean peninsula was united in a single political entity until the turbulent events of the first half of the XX century. Following a Japanese occupation during WWII, Korea was divided between the communist north, backed by China and USSR and democratic south, backed by the US.
The Korean war in 1950’s broke Korea apart. Communist North Korea evolved into a totalitarian dictatorship and is today one of the world’s most closed countries.
The two Korea’s never recognized each-other, but the North is experiencing massive economic problems and growing poverty. Many still hope that the two Koreas may eventually re-unite.
The existence of Taiwan as a separate political entity is a result of the Chinese Civil War, fought simultaneously with WWII.
When the Japanese were finally expelled from mainland China at the end of WWII, a bloody civil war between the Nationalists Kuomintang and the Communists resumed.
The Communists emerged victorious and the Nationalists established a separate state on the island of Taiwan – Republic of China (ROC), while the Communists were in control of the all of mainland China – People’s Republic of China (PRC). Both entities continue to claim sovereignty over all of China.
Both governments assert that there is only one state called ‘China’ despite the existence of two separate governments. This is referred to as the ‘One-China Policy’.
Once extremely hostile, the relations between the PRC and ROC have improved during the past years. Despite significant problems, there are chances that the two entities could eventually re-unite in the future.