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10 Countries That Were Once Separate Nations

Countries came into existence in different ways. A number of them were distinct nations before uniting to form a new country. Here you will find some currently exist as federations, a collection of states or kingdoms. In others, they had split and were reunited either voluntarily or forcefully. This happened especially during the Cold War when the West and Soviets took opposing sides in local conflicts. The victor took over the looser’s territories and absorbed them into their way of life. In yet another scenario, a country decides to relinquish its nationhood and joins the other to be a part of it. In all these scenarios, identities were either lost or retained. Here is a list of countries that are currently in existence as a result of two or more nations coming together or joining them.


Germany - Countries That Were Once Separate Nations

This is, by far, the most famous story. After World War II, Germany split into East and West Germany. Formally they were known as German Democratic Republic for East Germany or GDR and Federal Republic of Germany or FRG for West Germany. East Germany was a communist country, a Soviet satellite state, with its capital city as East Berlin. West Berlin was part of West Germany though not the capital. The capital was Bonn. The famous Berlin Wall was the divider of the two sides of Berlin. Crossing the wall could be tantamount to treason, and many had lost their lives in that pursuit, mainly from East to West.[1]

The Berlin Wall fell towards the end of 1989, and the two nations became one unified Germany in 1990. Officially, it is regarded as West Germany absorbing back East Germany as opposed to the creation of a new state. Berlin reverted as the capital of unified Germany. Because East Germany was more impoverished compared to West Germany coming into the unification, there have been concerted efforts ever since to try to bring that side up to the standard of the wealthier West Germany.[2]


Tanzania - Countries That Were Once Separate Nations

During colonial rule, present-day Tanzania was two nations: Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Tanganyika was in the mainland, and Zanzibar consists of a group of islands off the coast of the mainland. Tanzania’s official name is the United Republic of Tanzania to reflect this unity. The name Tanzania is made up of “Tan” from Tanganyika, “zan” from Zanzibar and “ia” the vowels found in both Tanganyika and Zanzibar.[3] Though they were colonized at roughly the same time by roughly the same colonial powers, Arabs, Germans and British, they were treated as two separate nations.

Tanganyika got its independence in 1961 and Zanzibar in 1963. The capital of Tanganyika was Dar es Salaam, and the capital of Zanzibar was and still is Zanzibar city. The two nations merged to form Tanzania in 1964. The capital of the merged country today is Dodoma. Presently, Zanzibar is a semi-independent region inside the union. It has its own government with a president, representatives, and police. Many people never tire of pointing out the similarity of its unique situation to that of Hong Kong.


Vietnam - Countries That Were Once Separate Nations

After the French were defeated in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 by the independence movement led by Hồ Chí Minh, a conference was held in Geneva to discuss the French withdrawal from that region. This resulted in the independence of several nations, namely Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. As part of the Geneva Accords, Vietnam was divided into two: north and south. This division was to be along a demilitarized line and was not meant to be permanent. People were given a period to move to the side; they felt safe. The eventual result was the creation of two distinct Vietnamese countries: the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north with its capital as Hanoi and the Republic of Vietnam in the south with its capital as Saigon.

Through a series of assassinations, controversial land reforms, political suppressions, resistance, and naked power grabs, the south became increasingly weak. This made it ripe for the north’s subversion activities. Communism became a constant threat. It is this fear of communism that drew the United States into what was to become a full-blown war known as the Vietnam war. By 1965, the Americans had combat boots on the ground and were bombarding North Vietnamese positions with aerial bombing campaigns. The Chinese and the Soviets naturally provided the North Vietnamese with supplies and advisers. The capture of Saigon by the North Vietnamese in 1975 led to the union of the North and South forming the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which exists to this day.[4] The capital is Hanoi, and it is still a communist country. Through a series of deliberate reforms, the country has emerged from that dark chapter to be one of the world’s best-performing economies.


Yemen - Countries That Were Once Separate Nations

Presently, Yemen is a country the United Nations describes as being in a dire humanitarian state. It is one of the poorest nations and the most corrupt among the Arab nations. The reason for the humanitarian state is the Yemeni conflict currently going on. It pits the Houthi rebels on one side against the internationally recognized government on the other. This conflict had begun as street protests against poverty and corruption.

Before 1990, present Yemen consisted of two countries: the Yemen Arab Republic or North Yemen and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen or South Yemen. The capital of North Yemen was Sana’a while the capital of South Yemen was Aden. North Yemen was an Islamic military state. South Yemen was a communist state. The two states existed quite peacefully although they fought each other at least twice amid talks of unification. This happened on 22nd May 1990.[5] Post-unification has not been smooth. There have been strife and civil wars with the South clamoring for their independence back. That is the situation to this day.

The United States & Texas

The United States and Texas

Before 1845 when Texas became the 28th state of the United States, it was an independent sovereign nation called the Republic of Texas for ten years. From 1836 to 1846. This Republic was a part of Mexico referred to as the Mexican Texas or the Coahuila y Texas state of Mexico. A number of its towns acted as its capital city including famous cities like Houston and Austin. It had a presidential system of governance, bicameral legislature and its currency were the Republic of Texas Dollar. One of its presidents was Sam Houston of whom the city of Houston is named after.

The Republic of Texas fought for its independence during the Texas Revolution and gained it from Mexico in 1836. The United States did recognize t, but Mexico refused to accept it. The independent state was beset with troubles. There were factions within it that wanted to be part of the United States. On top of that, the refusal of Mexico to recognize them meant Mexico regularly attacked them in a bid to bring them back into the fold. In 1845, the United States Congress passed a bill authorizing the United States to annex the Republic of Texas. After much negotiations that also included the Mexicans, the British and the French, the annexation went ahead. In December 1845, Texas joined the United States, and the Republic ceded its power to the new state in February 1846.[6]

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom flag

The United Kingdom consists of four distinct countries: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. These nations have their own governments under the authority of the United Kingdom parliament. The capital of England is London, the capital of Wales is Cardiff, the capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, and the capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast. Power is through their respective parliaments.

These countries joined the union at various times in history. In those times, all of them were kingdoms. Edward I of England conquered and annexed Wales in the 13th century. The kingdom of Scotland joined England through the Treaty of Union of 1706 to form the kingdom of Great Britain. This was ratified in their respective parliaments in 1707 as Acts of Union. The kingdom of Ireland joined in 1800 through another round of Acts of Union passed in both Irish and the kingdom of Great Britain parliaments. The new union was now and still is, known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.[7]

The United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates

Seven Emirates makes up The United Arab Emirates. These are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. Each Emirate has its ruler, and the capital cities share names with the Emirates. The rulers together form the Federal Supreme Council which elects the president of UAE. The current occupant of that seat is the ruler of Abu Dhabi, while Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE.

The amalgamation of the seven Emirates to form the UAE happened because of fear. Fear of being attacked by the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia when the British left and the treaty they had with the British, to protect them, expired. This made them decide to form a Federation of Arab Emirates, together with Qatar and Bahrain. By September of 1971, both Qatar and Bahrain had already gotten their independence. Six Emirates met in December of that year and formed the United Arab Emirates. Ras al-Khaimah joined a month later on January 1972.[8]


Somalia - Countries That Were Once Separate Nations

The British colonized the Federal Republic of Somalia on one end and the Italian on the other. The British part was smaller and was called British Somaliland, and the Italian part was significantly larger and was referred to as the Italian Somaliland. After World War 2, the Italian Somaliland first came under the British administration before reverting to the United Nations trust in 1949 under the Italian. From then on, the Italian Somaliland became known as the Trust Territory of Somaliland. In July 1st, 1960, these two sides merged as was agreed to form the independent Somali Republic.

Five days before this merger, British Somaliland had declared its independence from the British to become the State of Somaliland. Its capital was Hargeisa. So, they were a country for all of five days.[9] Many consider this union to have broken in 1991 when Somalia collapsed into civil war and Somaliland swiftly reinstated its borders and declared its independence again. Currently, Somaliland is recognized by the international community as an autonomous part of Somalia instead of a full republic. The capital remains as Hargeisa.


Italy - Countries That Were Once Separate Nations

The Italian Republic came into being in 1946 when the citizen, fed up with the monarchy, overthrew it through a referendum. Before that, it was known as the Kingdom of Italy. Umberto II became the unfortunate last king of Italy. He ruled for only 34 days. The Kingdom of Italy that existed up until 1946 was made up of several independent states, kingdoms or parts of other kingdoms and empires. The Italian unification is generally agreed to have taken place between 1815 to 1871. Main events began with the Vienna Congress where European powers met in Vienna to discuss the future of Europe post-Napoleon. In the congress, it was agreed for old state boundaries to be put back.

Italian pride and nationalism were whipped up, and the unification talk gained notoriety as a result. During the period, three major wars were fought, referred to as Italian wars of independence. Among the kingdoms and states that were involved include Kingdoms of Sardinia, Lombardy-Venetia, Two Sicilies and Naples; Duchies of Parma, Modena and Tuscany and the Papal States. The unification ended when Rome was captured and made the capital of the new Italian Kingdom. The kingdom suffered from a myriad of issues such as lack of popularity for the monarchy, boundary conflicts, civil wars, etc. This culminated in 1946 when the monarchy was abolished and a republic put in its place.[10]

India & the Kingdom of Sikkim

India & the Kingdom of Sikkim

The Kingdom of Sikkim existed between 1642 to 1975. It was an independent kingdom that came under constant attacks by the Kingdom of Gorkha (present-day Nepal). The Gorkhas exerted their influence over the kingdom, which made it align itself with the British in India for protection. This, among other reasons, made the British go to war with the Gorkha Kingdom, a conflict known as the Anglo-Nepalese war. One of the outcomes to the battle is the Sikkim coming firmly under the protection of the British.[11]

The Kingdom had several of its places as capital cities at different times. Its legislature was known as the State Council of Sikkim. The rulers were the Chogyals. After the British left India, Sikkim came under India’s protection. News of alleged discriminations of Indians in Sikkim infuriated the Indian government that they decided to act. In 1975, the Indian army marched to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, and surrounded the palace. A referendum quickly followed to abolish the monarchy. The Sikkim parliament then passed a motion to join India as a state. It became India’s 22nd state.[12]

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