When studying geography, there are many countries we learn about. In fact, there are so many that it becomes essentially impossible to memorize all of them. In the best case scenario, we stick to our own continents, make the effort to remember some of the most important states beyond its boundaries, and that’s basically it. The definition of a country is fairly vague. This is why some of them, while technically countries by the book, aren’t recognized at a worldwide level. These 10 Countries That Don’t Actually Exist are the best examples. They have a territory, they have a flag, and they basically have it all. Despite all of this, after visiting one of them, you can tell your friends that you’ve visited a non-existent country.
Greenland is the world’s biggest island, having been under the rule of Danish monarchy for over three hundred years. Its autonomy was granted in 2009, by Queen Margerthe II of Denmark. Clothed in traditional apparel, she showed up in front of the Greenlandic parliament and delivered the self-governing law. Needless to say, it was quickly picked up and Greenland soon became an almost independent country. I say “almost,” because while the island gained control over the police forces and made Greenlandic the official spoken language, it still remains under the law of the Queen.
Somaliland is located to the northwest of Somalia, sharing borders with the states Ethiopia and Djibouti. The state is self-declared, though the rest of the world begs to differ. Initially part of the former British Somalia, Somaliland gained a fickle independence of only five days before it got incorporated in the former Italian Somalia. It corresponds to essentially all criteria that make a country a country, including the fact that it has its own government, parliament, and currency. Despite that, the other states choose to continue to declare it as a province of Somalia.
Barotseland is located in South Africa, being surrounded by countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Angola. Its lands are inhabited by the Lozi people, a population composed of twenty tribes. The location of Barotseland is constantly changing because of the waters that flood their homes every year. Whenever this hazard hits, the Lozi people move to higher grounds. In the colonial period, Barotseland was a part of Northern Rhodesia, governed by the British as a protectorate.
This semi-recognized country lies on a patch of land across the Dniester River, between Moldavia and Russia. Transnistria has been very keen on having its independence recognized for the longest of times, something that has even led to a crossfire with Moldavia, in a strife recognized as the 1992 War of Transnistria. This conflict didn’t conclude with a positive outcome for Transnistria since no member of the United States recognizes it as a proper, full-fledged country. Officially, it’s considered as an integrated part of Moldavia under the name of “Transnistria autonomous territorial unit with special legal status.”
This country used to be governed by the laws of Nicaragua, having gained its independence in 2009 after a public announcement that took many people by surprise. The region is covered with tropical rainforests and it’s so secluded that access to it is only possible by air and water. Many indigenous groups are part of the population, including the Miskito, Pech, Sumo, Rama, and Tawakha people. If possible, one should definitely try to find a way to visit this region, since it’s the home of the widest wilderness area in Central America.
6. Isle of Man
The infamous British Isles are the one of the three Crown dependencies. Shortly put, Crown dependent states used to be governed by the English, but never became official parts of the United Kingdom. They’re self-governing and independent, with the Isle of Man being the proud home of one of the oldest parliaments in the world. Isle of Man is a very old region, records of its existence being traced all the way to a time before the arrival of Vikings in the 9th century.
Things are very complicated as far as Lakotah is concerned. It’s a region right in the heart of America, bordered by no other than the famed Mount Rushmore. The independence movement was launched in 2007 when a group of Native Americans traveled to Lakotah and demanded to have their independence granted. This was a back-and-forth thing since another attempt had been made a century prior, with the government taking back the law that separated Lakotah from the USA after the discovery of gold in the area.
Tibet is a definitely a region that’s home to many impressive achievements. Mount Everest proudly resides in its heart, and the temple of the Tibetan monks (which include the Dalai Lama) has drawn many eyes towards it. However, Tibet has been fighting with the Chinese for centuries. Many battles were carried so that it could be granted independence. For a while, they even managed to, but 1959 was the year when Tibet’s political status became permanent. A war was fought for independence, one which resulted in the Dalai Lama at that time fleeing and disappearing into exile. Today, China governs central and western Tibet, but there are definitely many tensions between the two sides.
9. West Papua
The West Papua Province is today an integrated part of Indonesia, but it hasn’t always been this way. For many years, it was under Dutch rule as part of Denmark’s intense colonial movement. Afterwards, it was Indonesia that took over. They provided the people of West Papua with the option to decide whether they wanted to remain part of Indonesia or become independent. The so called “Act of Free Will” doesn’t seem so genuine if you think about the fact that the Indonesian government allowed only one thousand representatives to vote in the name of a population that counted millions. Needless to say, the vote was in favor of remaining under Indonesian reign.
These 9 Countries That Don’t Actually Exist aren’t like Atlantis or some lost empires that can only be accessed through a magical portal or history books. They’re more or less the result of politics and various wars, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t find themselves in a very interesting position.