Young Pioneer Tours

Can you visit former countries?

At YPT we get a lot of people that want to go to every country, which by their reckoning means every country in the United Nations (UN). We greatly support this endeavour, but also have some issues to point out.

Does this mean that North and South Korea did not count until 1991 and Switzerland 1994? Would visiting Taiwan circa 1970 have counted the same as mainland China?

You can read our opinion on collecting countries here.

And while we do indeed respect this aim, it can at times lead to silly things. I once had a friend who would not come to Greenland with me as he had already been to Denmark…

Anyway as always I rant and digress. My point is that this got me thinking – what do you do when you have visited every country? And this got me the idea of how to visit former countries.

So, what is a former country?

A former country is quite simply an old country that no longer exists. This could be for essentially two reasons, one it joined another country, or two was split into different countries.

The first metric would thus include places such as East Germany, while the later would encompass places such as the obvious Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but not the Union of Soviet Sovereign Republics

What this does not include is a country that has been the same, but has changed names a number of times. An example of this is Cambodia where a 90 year old would have lived under 10 different variations of Cambodia.

One though could count The Provisional Government of National Union and National Salvation of Cambodia (PGNUNSC), which controlled large swathes of land for over four years and is known as the last Khmer Rouge state. One though could not count the The Samdech Euv Autonomous Zone which lasted under a week.

How do you visit former countries?

By the YPT rules of engagement it does not matter if the country was recognised or not, but rather when and how long it existed. For these they need to have been countries for at least one year, been independent and it needs to have happened within the 20th century at least.

This gives a number of great places to visit, such as East Germany, the Salo Republic, as well as Tuva! And then there is the quirky Neutral Moresnet – one of the most fascinating “nations” to have very existed.

And so far we have not even ventured outside of Europe, with popular Asian entries including South Yemen and Manchkou. One day we will do a thorough list for this, but for now these are just guidance rules.

And these are extremely easy to visit, with you merely needing to go to any part of the former nation, such as Aden for South Yemen and Dresden for the GDR.

How do you visit former countries that were big!

Visiting formally HUGE countries is a light bit harder. For example the king daddy here is the Soviet Union. To visit the Soviet Union now you need to go to all 15 former republic, with some also arguing you should include Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Nagorno-Karabach is no longer part of that list….

The good news is though you do not need to do it in one sitting, with it being possible to spread it over a number of years if need be. These rules also apply to the still large, but slightly more manageable Yugoslavia (link) in all its former guises and indeed glory.

Other more bit sized ones include places such as the United Arab Republic which merely means visiting both Egypt and Syria. And that is our guide to visiting former countries! What do you think of our list? And Are there any great ones that we left out? And no the Limerick Soviet Republic does not count.

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