Ever wondered what life would be like if a country actually disappeared off the face of the planet or at least transformed into something else? If it got swallowed up by somebody and forgotten; a lost civilization that just leaves remnants and remains, vestiges of a glorious (or not) past? It happens every day, but it’s only with hindsight that we realize where the country went. It’s only looking back that we think, "hey, where the hell did they go?”
But, there are ten countries today that are here in the present, the here and now, and yet within the next two decades they may well fall off the edge of the earth and end up going in the way of the Raphus cucullatus, a fat, funny looking bird, an extinct flightless thing commonly called the Dodo. Its disappearance went largely unnoticed towards the end of the 17th century and then it was largely believed to be a mythological creature and to have never actually existed. Now it’s countries that are going the way of the Dodo, dying because they are flightless birds in the worldly skies of economics. They will be as dead as a Dodo and then we will look back and just think the countries were nothing more than mythical far-off lands.
There are innumerable countries that have disappeared or been swallowed up into other greater ones that at least had the power to overrun them and take control of them. Take a simple one close to home; Hawaii was a separate kingdom for centuries, although it took until the 1840 for it to be recognized as a country, only to be swallowed up by the United States and annexed in 1898. Should that country have disappeared? What would have been the consequences if it hadn’t been swallowed up by the USA?
What would have happened if the Free Independent Republic (of parts of Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana) had remained their separate republic for more than just the meek 90 days it managed to survive? Where would the US be going to retire then? Or what would be going in in Syria and Egypt today had they remained (despite not being neighbors) the United Arab Republic between 1958 and 1961. Would they be in the state that they find themselves in today or perhaps even worse?
Countries come and go every day; they disappear and change their names. They get annexed and they get enveloped by the one that is stronger and bigger. So, who will disappear in the future decades?
Ten Countries that Will Disappear
It’s not surprising that Spain risks suffering from the consequences of the financial crisis. Its public debt ratio currently stands at a staggering 97.7% and it will continue to rise this year in 2015 and hit over 100% before it even starts thinking of falling – supposedly by 2017. That alone is enough to make the country implode and for someone else to fill the void. Unemployment increased to 23.78% in the first quarter of 2015, a rise from 23.7% in the last quarter of 2014 and it is set to remain at that level for this year at least with economic austerity measures failing to have any effect on the country. But, there are even greater worries coming the way of the Spanish government which will lead to greater destruction than anything economics can do to it. The country risks seeing the western region of Catalonia and the growing independence movement make even greater breakthroughs in popularity. Many (and a growing number) of Catalans believe that the region has fewer and fewer cultural ties with the rest of Spain. Catalonia has been part of Spain since the 15th century but now they believe more than ever that the time is right to gain independence. Plus today it is one of the richest industrial regions of Spain. In 2013 they formed a 300-mile human chain around the country making sure that they at least symbolically cut themselves off from the Spanish. Spain could see its geography changing and its image will be most certainly damaged.
9. North Korea
North Korea, the hermit kingdom, the place that has cut itself off from the world clearly lacks in resources in order to move into the 21st century. That is, unless it actually changes or expands and takes those resources from elsewhere. Is North Korea dangerous, isolated and so primed for war? Industrial capital is considered as being beyond repair today in the country and military spending has drained resources and civilian spending. 25% of the population lack in enough food to live adequately and there are 1 million children that are under the age of five included in that figure. Growth stands at less than 1%. Due to that lack it will have to leave behind isolation, either expanding or finally coming to grips with the fact that it will have to cooperate with the rest of the world to get hold of what it needs. Kim Jong-Un will probably opt for the first choice otherwise opening up would mean precipitating the country towards the demise of his authoritarian regime.
This country has been divided for years now and on the verge of implosion too. The problem here lies in the fact that the two halves of Belgium have nothing in common and least of cultural ties or language. Wallonia is in the south and is French-speaking, while Flanders is in the north and is Dutch speaking. The former people want independence or union with France. The Flemish want an independent state. Between 2007 and 2011, the Belgians suffered from the consequences of differing opinions regarding policies in the country. They had no government except an interim one because no political part was able to govern and nobody was able to come to an agreement to govern together (2010-2011).
Collision course for disaster because they won’t be able to solve their spiraling problems related to the environment and pollution? They might have one of the most powerful military forces in the world but nothing will quell the prediction by experts that by 2030 China will have no drinkable water left because it will be polluted. Half of the urban drinking water is unfit already for human consumption and despite improvements that were decided upon five years ago, they are on the road to disappearing through drought. If you thought the air pollution was bad, water is worse. It earmarked over US$112 billion to upgrade water networks, but it hasn’t been effective and was over-ambitious.
As Britain did all around the world with its colonies and especially with regard to the partition of India and Pakistan, Iraq’s borders were created by the UK with no consideration at all for ethnic groups or languages. Now there is no dictator in the country it’s falling apart with the Kurds dominating the north and the Sunnis in the West along with the Shiites in the south. There is very little possibility of anything else but implosion happening in the country today since it would mean that the Kurds would have to give up their new-found control and the Islamic State would have to be defeated and for the ethnic groups to agree to live peacefully.
Libya was already an artificial country created when it gained independence from Italy in 1951. It was only the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi that kept it together. The Libyan Civil War in 2007 led to the destruction of the country already into small factions that will ultimately lead to legal independence in coming decades. Before the occupation of the Italians of the country that turned into Libya there were three regions that were independent of each other: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. Tribal ties were always greater as in Iraq and it was only dictatorship which dampened that down. Now that Gaddafi has gone, the country has splintered back into what it was before.
4. The Islamic State
The rise to power was too rapid in 2014 in Iraq and in Syria and that can only mean that it will become destabilized in the future. Nobody likes a rapid rise to power anywhere in the world and it has brought about a long (and growing) list of enemies in the world. If it is going to survive it will have to defeat (or make peace with) Kurdistan and Iraq as well as Syria to the west and the Free Syrian Army in the north of the country. Even Saudi Arabia and Iran are prepared to fight them. That makes for a lot of enemies and despite recent progress in Syria for the Islamic State it seems that they can only be destined to disappear in the future.
3. The United Kingdom
The woes and the worries of the Queen seeing the destruction of her united kingdom will never end until the independence movement in Scotland ends up gaining full independence from Westminster. It was a close call last time and there can only be a growing feeling in Scotland that Westminster still isn’t giving enough. There is a growing desire for autonomy in Wales. Any success on the road to autonomy for the UK will lead to its destruction.
2. The United States of America
Did you really believe that the American Civil War brought about a great bond between the north and the south? If the present government does not redress the imbalances that exist within the country, then states will most certainly end up breaking free. In 2012 fifty states submitted petitions to gain independence. New Orleans submitted a petition to the White House to allow Louisiana to become independent with hundreds of thousands of signatures. Alaska and Texas are the most likely to leave the US. The secede petitions reached over 675,000 signatures asking Obama to look at the question.
1. The Maldives
This country will disappear because it will be swallowed up by the ocean. The President in 2008 even looked into buying up land and transplanting his country to another island. The 300,000 islanders have already seen revenues from tourism diverted into funding the future purchase of a new home. India and Sri Lanka were ideal targets and discussions begun. Seas are likely to increase by 59 cm by the year 2100 and the Maldives remains only 1.5 meters above sea level.
When the Dutch first discovered the Dodo towards the end of the 16th century while on an expedition to Indonesia in 1598, they called the Dodo the "Walghvogel”. ‘Vogel’ means bird and ‘Walghe’ means "insipid” or "tasteless”. The countries in the list of those that are set to disappear in the next twenty years are perhaps the insipid countries in the world that have failed to leave their marks. Fail to impress, govern or control in today’s world and you fail to survive.
How many of these countries are really set to disappear from the maps that we stick in front of our kids’ noses as they arrive in their geography lessons? It’s not so much a country disappearing that might be the real root of the problem, but it’s the fact that the country will be replaced by what exactly. Where there’s a gap, there’s a person to fill it.