Throughout history, multiple places have existed only to disappear and be replaced by something else. While some places like the Roman Empire gradually broke apart and formed new areas such as the Byzantine and Holy Roman Empires before fading away altogether, others vanished more suddenly either due to conquest or environmental reasons. Such was the case for many of the former kingdoms of Africa before the Europeans came in and took over, while places like Pompeii and Pripyat were afflicted by sudden disasters namely a volcanic eruption and a nuclear meltdown, respectively.
Then there are places that are abruptly formed only to quickly fade away either due to a weak government or interference from other countries, as was the case with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which was split apart into the independent countries of Serbia and Montenegro in 2006. Yet there are even places around the world that are being created, either from scratch or from a pre-existing nation. Some recent examples of the latter include Crimea, which got annexed by Russia in 2014, and South Sudan which was formed in 2011. The former types of places, though, are still in development and won’t be around for a while yet. So let’s highlight some famous places that no longer exist while also spotlighting some that are being made.
25 No longer exists: Republic of Sonora
In the northern part of Mexico and present-day Baja California, a journalist from America known as William Walker attacked Baja’s sparsely populated capital in 1853 along with 45 men who volunteered to help so he could claim the area as his own colony.
This eventually became known as the Republic of Sonora, which was established a year later.
Yet Walker’s men quickly deserted him in wake of opposition from Native tribes and the threat of the Mexican authorities, who had refused to give Walker part of their country in the first place, leading to his subsequent arrest and trial.
24 No longer exists: Prussia
While this kingdom once encompassed the lands where Poland and Germany are now, it gradually started to shrink during the Nineteenth Century following the unification of the German Empire in 1871.
According to Reader's Digest, at the time, the ruler of Prussia was made to be the German Empire’s leader despite the continuation of the Franco-Prussian War. It also didn’t help that the Prussian monarchy was dissolved after WWI. Yet, Prussia remained after this, albeit as a state within Germany, until it was broken up in the aftermath of WWII and erased.
23 on it's way: Kosovo
Located in Serbia, this small area has been rife with ethnic tensions and conflict. This came to the UN’s attention in the 90s when the conflict escalated to the point where NATO stepped in and forced the leader of Serbia at the time to withdraw troops from the area.
Then in 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia despite opposition.
On top of that, it’s not entirely recognized as an independent nation and hasn’t applied for UN membership yet because of it. While it has grown financially in the years since, it’s still an underdeveloped country.
22 No longer exists: Tibet
For years, many have grown up hearing the tragic story of this former tiny nation near Nepal on the western border of China. Once a kingdom, it gave birth to the religious sect known as Tibetan Buddhism where it’s believed that the religious leader known as the Dalai Lama reincarnates into every successor.
Yet since its independence in 1913, China always intruded upon it before Tibet became an autonomous region in 1950 followed by the current Dalai Lama’s exile in India (Reader's Digest). Since then, many protests and insurgencies have occurred to make Tibet independent once more with no success thus far.
21 No longer exists: Zanzibar
Located off the eastern coast of Africa, this semi-autonomous region made up of several islands was an important trade center for spices and ruled by a Sultan during the Nineteenth Century. Then the British stepped in to end Zanzibar’s slave trade, and they wound up establishing a protectorate to control things.
Yet the Sultan still remained in power until 1964 when an intense revolution forced him to flee resulting in several casualties.
Following its true independence, Zanzibar then merged with the mainland country of Tanganyika to form the present-day nation of Tanzania (Reader's Digest) which is a popular tourist attraction.
20 to be created: Forest City
In a partnership with a Chinese land development company and the Sultan of Johor (Malaysia’s leader), this planned city was recently announced and is set to be completed by 2035.
Futuristic in design, it will rest on a series of artificial islands off the coast of Malaysia near Singapore and be entirely Eco-Friendly with plants everywhere and no cars (Forbes).
But while this ambitious project is too good to be true, it’s also had its criticisms. While some people believe its construction will disrupt the flow of ocean traffic, others say it’s nothing more than a political jab at Singapore.
19 no longer exists: Sarawak
Despite being a Malaysian State nowadays, it actually has quite an interesting history. According to Reader's Digest, originally ruled by a Sultanate government, their power significantly declined in the 1840s leading the Sultan at the time to hire a sailor named James Brooke from Britain to help quell a significant rebellion that was going on.
As a reward, Brooke was given ownership of Sarawak making him the first “White Rajah” who ruled over it along with his descendants until WWII when Japan took over followed by the British forces. Then after Malaysia was formed, Sarawak became a part of it in 1963.
18 No longer exists: Kingdom of Corsica
This short-lived kingdom begins with a German named Theodor Stephan Freiherr von Neuhoff. According to Mental Floss, he enjoyed traveling while getting involved in various international incidents from a failed negotiation to the burst of a financial bubble. Eventually, Neuhoff found himself in Genoa where he met rebels from Corsica, a small island off the coast of France in the Mediterranean.
He agreed to help them earn their freedom if they made him king and that’s what they did.
However, the Kingdom of Corsica only lasted for a few months in 1736 due to debt and cowardice on Neuhoff's part.
17 No longer exists: Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia
Before the present countries of Patagonia and Araucanía were formed, the Mapuche people who are native to the area were caught up in several conflicts with the countries of Chile and Argentina (Mental Floss) to recognize their cultural independence from them (and still are to this day). Yet in 1860, they were approached by a French lawyer named Orélie-Antoine de Tounens who offered to create a sovereign nation for them and so they made him king.
Yet, neither Argentina or Chile recognized the Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia, which wasn’t helped further by Tounens’ arrest and eventual committal to an asylum.
16 No longer exists: Ottoman Empire
After the Roman Empire was split into two, the eastern half became known as the Byzantine Empire after Emperor Constantine established a capital there that would eventually become the city of Constantinople. While the western half in Rome dissolved following several attacks by Germanic groups such as the Visigoths and the Franks, Byzantine continued to exist long after that until it was taken over by the Ottoman Turks.
Hence, it was renamed the Ottoman Empire which lasted up until after WWI when it shrank into the Turkish Republic according to Reader’s Digest and eventually became modern-day Turkey.
15 Not what it once was: Newfoundland
Though this place is still around today, it’s gone through several different labels. First, it began as a British colony (though the Vikings discovered it long before them) and one of the earliest ones apart from the colonies in the United States.
But much like the colonists living in the United States, the cultural isolation from England caused Newfoundland’s colonists to form a self-governing nation that was still controlled by Britain until the 1930s when the Great Depression hit, forcing Newfoundland to become a colony once more. Then in 1949, it became the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (Reader's Digest).
14 no longer exists: Basutoland
In present-day South Africa, there is a landlocked kingdom which was originally created in the Nineteenth Century (Reader's Digest), as the result of a conflict between the native Basuto people and the neighboring group of Boers (Dutch settlers) who had their own independent nation which later came to be known as the Orange Free State.
So the Basuto leader King Moshoeshoe I reached out to the British for help and they annexed the Basuto’s territory into the colony of Basutoland.
Then following its independence in 1966, it was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho which still has a monarchy to this day.
13 no longer exists: Ceylon
Now known as Sri Lanka (Reader's Digest), this island nation located just below India has a rich pre-history dating back 125,000 years and possibly more. Even its documented history is remarkable, known for having multiple kingdoms and even the first female Asian ruler by the name of Anula of Anuradhapura.
Then when the British took over in the 1700s, they called it Ceylon which remained that way until 1972 when it gained its independence.
This was then followed by a civil war that lasted almost 30 years, and now the country has become one of the fastest-growing nations on earth.
12 no longer exists: Sikkim
While Tibet is small compared to China, Sikkim is even smaller by comparison. Resting between Nepal and Bhutan, it was once a sovereign nation ruled over by the Chogyals who served as both absolute and spiritual leaders. This was the case from 1642 until 1890 when the British made it a protectorate of theirs despite the two being initially allied against Nepal.
Then it became a protectorate of India in 1950, before eventually becoming a state in the 70s.
Today, according to Reader's Digest, Sikkim’s known for its snow-covered mountains and multiple sightings of the Yeti ( the mountain equivalent to Bigfoot) since 1948 onward.
11 no longer exists: Abyssinia
Long ago, this was the name given to the country of Ethiopia by the Arabs back when it was a kingdom ruled by the Solomonic Dynasty which claimed to be descended from the biblical figure King Solomon.
Yet during the age when many African kingdoms were being taken over by Europeans known as the Scramble for Africa, Abyssinia (also known as the Ethiopian Empire) was one of the few that survived along with Liberia.
Though during the 1930s, it was briefly occupied by the Italians when Mussolini was in power yet it went on to co-found the United Nations.
10 broken up into several countries: Yugoslavia
Following WWI, many long-standing empires fell including the Austro-Hungarian Empire which was a union between Austria and Hungary when they were both kingdoms. So many of its former territories came together along with the Kingdom of Serbia whose ruler Peter the First became the official leader of the newly formed country of Yugoslavia.
Then WWII came along causing much strife in the region leading to the monarchy dissolving, followed by a period under communist rule, and then several internal conflicts during the 90s leading this nation to be broken up into several smaller countries.
9 no longer exists: Czechoslovakia
On a similar note, this former country was also made up of former territories belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and it too got wrecked during WWII when the Third Reich occupied it prior to the war.
According to Reader's Digest, after the Soviet Union stepped in, they made it an Eastern Bloc nation (meaning it was a communist-controlled state) which was the case for much of the Cold War until the 90s.
But whereas Yugoslavia split up under dire circumstances, Czechoslovakia calmly split into two countries.
Namely, the Czech Republic and Slovakia which have been doing fine since forming.
8 reconciling their differences: Serbia and Montenegro
Formerly known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, this was one of the newly formed nations following the breakup of Yugoslavia with the others being Croatia Slovenia Macedonia and Bosnia (also known as Bosnia and Herzegovina).
However, due to an overwhelming number of votes in 2006, Montenegro became independent on June 3 of that year according to Adam Taylor of The Washington Post followed by Serbia.
Since then, both countries have applied for the European Union and attempted to get their policies straightened out with Montenegro bringing its exiled monarchs back while, according to the Washington Post, Serbia has partnered with Russia (its longtime ally).
7 starting to thrive: East Timor
Situated on the eastern side of the Indonesian-controlled Timor Island, this new nation is also called Timor-Leste. For the longest time, it was colonized by Portugal until 1975 when Indonesia came along.
Refusing to become an autonomous region in Indonesia, East Timor became the center of multiple conflicts for many decades until it finally became independent in 2002.
Though despite interference from the UN (United Nations), who even went so far as to deploy troops in the region, the conflict between East Timor and Indonesia resumed in 2006. Nevertheless, East Timor is becoming increasingly prosperous due to oil.
6 recently created: South Sudan
For many decades, the country of Sudan was center of a major conflict stemming from centuries of tension between the Arabs who lived in the northern part and the southern natives who practiced a mixture of Animism and Christianity.
This conflict was seemingly solved by the creation of South Sudan in 2011, yet the newly formed country still has its problems.
Apart from being an impoverished nation, it has also had ethnic tension between the various tribes that live in the area as well as militia groups leading to a civil war that has lasted since 2013 to the present.
5 To be created: Nanhui New City
Labeled as a “Ghost City,” this place is just one of many new areas that are being created by China where they build large structures and wait for people to start occupying them.
But because people are typically hesitant to move to a new area that doesn’t have established businesses transportation and schools, these places tend to be empty for a significant amount of time according to Wade Shepard of Forbes Magazine.
Hence, they are called Ghost Cities.
Nanhui New City, on the other hand, is one of the more successful Ghost Cities despite being primarily occupied by university students.
4 to be created: Nurkent
Following the completion of the Jinghe–Yining–Khorgos Railway in 2009, which runs through the border between Kazakhstan and China (Forbes), both sides have begun to prosper from this. In China, for instance, they’ve established the city of Korgas (though it’s also called Khorgos) which is also connected to the New Eurasian Land Bridge railway line.
Meanwhile in Kazakhstan, they’ve recently established the town of Nurkent near the Chinese border.
While it’s basically a work camp at the moment, according to Forbes, Nurkent is slated to become a major commercial center by the year 2035 as proclaimed by the current leader of Kazakhstan himself.
3 to be created: Xiong’an New Area
Apart from the Ghost Cities, China has also been creating new development areas that are typically located near a city. According to Forbes, this in turn leads to billions of dollars’ worth of investment as well as skyrocketing prices. Such was the case with Xiong’an shortly after it was built near Beijing, which forced investments to temporarily stop because the property sales were getting too high while the stock significantly went up.
Expected to grow in the coming years due to the amount of area that’s currently being bought up, Xiong’an is looking to become a future center for tech and research facilities.
2 to be created: Colombo Port City
Apart from Malaysia, there is another country that’s having a large land development project underway. Namely, Sri Lanka where a new financial district is planning to be built off the coast of Colombo which is its capital city (Forbes).
However, it’s going to be entirely built by a Chinese company and completely controlled by them which is making India uncomfortable who see this as an intrusion by China.
This is largely due to the fact that this planned area is going to be more than just a financial district, but also a commercial hub for trading companies all over the world.
1 to be created: Sino-Oman Industrial City
Just south from Saudi Arabia and right next door to Yemen, the small desert country of Oman is planning to develop an area tenuously called the Sino-Oman Industrial City. Located in the Duqm Special Economic Zone near the town of the same name, it’s being financially backed by Chinese companies from a region in China that’s occupied by
Muslims who plan to revolutionize the existing port in the area and transform it into a major business center. On top of that, it’ll also become a large living center as well. While there’s no completion date, it has people interested.
Resources: readersdigest.ca, mentalfloss.com, forbes.com, washingtonpost.com