We all like new things, but what about new countries? If you area country collector, what do you do when you run out of countries? Well, you wait for new ones, of course!
For regular readers of YPT, you will know that we have more than a passing interest in strange places, unrecognised countries and indeed what counts as a country! What counts as a country is a remarkably varied debate, with our personal opinion being that it falls somewhere between the 195ers and the 100 club.
To read our official rules on what counts as a country, click here.
Now! With these rules firmly in place, we will not count unrecognized countries, such as Transnistria, which you can read about here. We will also not be mentioning Catalonia, or Scotland, both of which tried and failed miserably and are not all that interesting……
This article is about countries that have either voted for independence or will be going to the polls in the near future.
Donetsk and Luhansk were previously on our list, although they almost counted as an unrecognized country. They have though now been officially incorporated into the Russian Federation, so are now disputed territories, rather than potential, or unrecognized countries.
7. Bougainville – Papua New Guinea
Bougainville is officially part of Papua New Guinea, but they fought a long and very bitter civil war over independence. There are a lot of reasons why they don’t feel like being part of PNG, with a considerable portion being that the area sees little from its rice in resources.
At the end of 2019, the nation voted 98% for independence, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has not happened. Technically could declare independence anytime, but technically at least 2027 is the year they will officially do it.
6. Chuuck – Federated States of Micronesia
There are four “states” that make up the former US colony of the Federated States of Micronesia. The biggest and richest is Chuuk, and it turns out they think they would be better off alone.
They have been talking about holding a refund for a long time, but it keeps getting postponed. It was to take place in 2023, but again it did not happen. The only stumbling block is that the Federated States of Micronesia is a pseudo-US colony, so Uncle Sam may well pull a veto. The United States is not very pro an independent Chuuk that might be friends with China.
5. West Papua
Probably the least likely, but most deserving “country” on our list. They have fought against Indonesia for many years, but unlike Timor-Leste have failed to actually achieve independence
Still, never say never and they could well get it one day.
You can check out our West Papua Tours here.
4. New Caledonia – France
An overseas territory of France in the beautiful Pacific ocean. There is a wide disparity in wealth between the locals and the colonialists. There have been numerous independence referendums here, most recently in 2020.
It was again rejected in 2020, but by a smaller margin than it was in 2018. Will there be another vote in 2023? It seems they will just keep doing votes until they get the result they want. We at least already count them as a country.
3. West and East Libya – Libya
Remember, when we stormed into Libya to spread democracy? Well, the formerly most prosperous state in Africa, which offered everything from free housing to a degree for all, is now a bit of a shit show!
The most likely scenario here will resemble Somalia and Somaliland, whereby there is an internationally recognised state that doesn’t work all that well, and an unrecognised one that does. Perhaps the American rebel government could move here?
You can join us in Libya here.
2. Bermuda – British Empire
Again another one of those places, much like the Cayman Islands that is basically a country anyway. They have their own money, passport and a football team. Technically they are still part of the British Empire.
Though the current government is pro-independence and unlikely, the British would stand in their way.
1. Rojava – Syria
One of the most interesting places on our list and again another result of western foreign policy. Technically still part of Syria, but they are fighting not only the central government but ISIS as well.
This state is run on socialist and Anarchist lines and could rightly be seen as the closest the world has to an anarchist state.
You can read more about Rojava here.
And that marks the seven most likely new countries in the world you might see in 2021. Some have better chances of recognition than others, but all form fascinating potential travel destinations!
But what if I have already been to one of them?
Sadly if you visit Bougainville before it gets independence, then you visited Papua New Guinea! To qualify for having been to a “new” nation, it must be post-independence.