The World's Youngest Countries

Oct 16, 2017

South Sudan
South Sudan is the world's youngest country.

> Play a map quiz on the world's youngest countries

Chances are, the world map from when you were born and the one from when you are an adult will look different. That is because old countries break apart from time to time, and new ones form in their place. In other instances, regions within countries that still exist breakaway and claim independence, and may eventually become recognized as a newly independent country.

After the collapse of communism in the early 1990s, dozens of new countries emerged, necessitating a complete redrawing of the world map. Since that time, the emergence of new countries has been slower, but new countries have continued to form throughout the 21st century.

South Sudan (2011)

South Sudan officially declared independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long civil war. The international community quickly recognized the new state, but high poverty and the lingering effects of the long war have made it difficult for the country to forge ahead.

Kosovo (2008)

Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008, although Serbia, Russia, Spain, China, and many others do not recognize its independence. Nonetheless, Kosovo fielded a national soccer team and competed in the UEFA World Cup qualifications in 2016 and 2017, and has the support of the United States and many countries in Western Europe.

Montenegro (2006)

Montenegro became its own country in 2006 after it separated from a union with Serbia. The union was the last vestige of Yugoslavia, and one of the few separations that did not involve any conflicts or violence. In 2017, Montenegro became the most recent addition to NATO.

East Timor (2002)

East Timor, or Timor-Leste as it is also known, officially achieved independence from Indonesia in 2002. Since that time, the new country has developed quite a lot, building upon its substantial oil reserves.

Palau (1994)

Palau, with a population of only 21,000, was a part of the Micronesia island group until 1994. Citing its unique cultural and linguistic heritage, the tiny island country broke away from the larger group. The country is also wealthier than many of its neighbors, and is a popular tourist attraction.

Eritrea (1993)

Eritrea had an uneasy relationship within the Ethiopian federation until 1993, when the country officially separated after a popular referendum. The declaration of independence came only two years after the conclusion of a three-decade civil war with Ethiopia. Even though Eritrea now has its independence, tensions with Ethiopia have been a consistent presence.

Czech Republic and Slovakia (1993)

Czechoslovakia remained together from 1918, when it declared independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1993, shortly after it broke free from Soviet domination. Despite strong cultural connections, the split was amicable, and sometimes referred to as the Velvet Divorce.

Namibia (1990)

Namibia achieved its independence from neighboring South Africa in 1990. At the time, South Africa was in the final years of apartheid and was becoming more internationally isolated. The struggle for independence came after a 25-year armed conflict that left around 20,000 people dead.